The first of many stories that inspired Elephante Commons
When Eric was young, he witnessed his sisters being assaulted , so he dedicated his life to protecting women. After learning how to fight, he set out to teach self-defense but had to sell his car and motorcycle (his entire livelihood) to rent a space for a classroom. He started a gym to offset the cost but still couldn't make ends meet and ended up shutting it all down.
If he simply had a space to teach, imagine how many women could have benefited today! Eric lives in America now but still wants to make self-defense available to his community in Gulu.
The Acholi Elephant
When the British colonized Acholi-land, they needed something to identify its people, thus giving the Acholi people the emblem of the elephant. Though it was solely used for identification then, the Acholi people were proud to adopt this identity, and they transformed it into what it represents today.
Now the elephant symbolizes the strength, unity, and peace of our community. When coming up with a name for our Commons, we knew it had to tie in with the Acholi elephant. Elephante is actually a made up word, but when the staff voted for the name, it won unanimously as a fancy new spin on their favorite mascot.
Elephante's vision was born from a lot of years of intentional learning and understanding the deepest desires of the Acholi people. It wasn't the idea of one person, but a collaborative vision of many people working together with the same mission of holistic healing for the entire community.
- January 2014 -
We were young entrepreneurs from Portland, Oregon who had no idea just what we were getting into when we arrived in Gulu, but we showed up with an eagerness to work and an excitement to do life side by side with the Acholi people.
- March 2015 -
A small cafe in Gulu felt like a home away from home for a lot of people. When we found out it was closing, we knew something had to be done. We purchased the cafe, paid off its debts, and kept the staff on to teach them how to run it. The staff voted to name it Elephante Cafe & Pizzeria, and it went on to become one of the best restaurants in town.
- 2015-2017 -
Local leaders were coming to Elephante with big, inspiring ideas that could have great impact on Gulu town. They were searching high and low for a space that could host their projects, but there was nowhere in town with the capacity. We knew someone needed to step up and create a space that didn't yet exist in Gulu.
- December 2017 -
Elephante Cafe closed its doors and began the search for a much larger space to accommodate local projects. Finding a space large enough felt impossible, but when the timing was right, God dropped the perfect spot right into our laps - a 5-acre property we all knew very well but had been overlooked by the community for a long time.
- November 2018 -
The newly renovated cafe reopened its doors in the front room of the new property. It was a LOT of work, but it was all worth it to be able to enjoy this beautiful and big space every day. The cafe launch was a huge success. Next...renovate the rest of the 5 acres....
- December 2018 -
We hosted our first community event with Hashtag Gulu, a Christmas party for kids who live and work on the street. This was when we knew, without a doubt, that Elephante Commons was a very special project.
- Present Day -
We continue to forge new partnerships, build out our space, and celebrate so much success with our community. We still have a long way to go, and we need help getting there.How you can help
Check out our news feature in Portland, Oregon!
Thanks KGW News for highlighting us on Giving Tuesday! It was so much fun to talk with Christine and get to share our vision for Elephante with Portland!