I love it when things like this happen:
After my 2008 visit to Uganda I met up with a friend's husband who had volunteered at the Gulu recovery centre for former child soldiers. He told me that while he was there he met one of the counsellors, a woman by the name of Florence Lakor, who had worked at the centre since her daughter had been abducted by Kony and the LRA. She had been missing for nine years. While he was there they received news that Florence's daughter had escaped and was now being brought to the recovery centre.
Mark told me that when Florence and Angela were reunited the whole camp erupted in a celebration that was like no other. The drums came out, the bells rang, and the children and counsellors shouted and sang and danced for hours and hours. A parade began and the celebration went from one end of the compound to the other and back again.
It's funny how things come around full circle, because on that spring day, seven years later, when I walked into that same Gulu recovery centre, a young woman came to greet me. Her face and her smile and her mannerisms were very familiar to me. I had seen them in photos and videos Mark had shared with me.
"You're Angela Lakor," I said, as I took her outstretched hands in mine.
"Yes," she said.
"I know your story."
But, it turns out, I only knew a tiny portion of her tale. When I interviewed Angela several days later I realized I was in the presence of a real heroine. I'll tell you more of her story in the next blog. You'll love it.
Photo courtesy of Jason Beardy
My journey as an author, giving voice to child soldiers.