With the spotlight on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army bringing the situation of child soldiers in Uganda and the Congo to everyone’s attention, I feel it very fitting to share some information about your child’s community with you.
The area in which your sponsored child is from was not immune to the terror and carnage that followed Kony in his misconstrued attempts to overthrow the Ugandan government. When Kony was unable to rally the support of his fellow Acholi tribesmen, he resorted to abducting children who were seen as ideally vulnerable and malleable for creating a subservient and vicious army. But I do not want to put Kony in the spotlight right now. Let’s focus on the children and families who have been affected by this “war”.
Over 1.6 million people were left homeless as Kony destroyed their villages as he ripped children from the arms of their mothers and fathers, forcing many of the children to kill their own parents. Villagers who survived were forced to move south and live in squalid and cramped displacement camps where they were highly susceptible to malnutrition, dehydration, and AIDS. When Kony moved his army to the Congo, people returned to their villages and worked to rebuild their lives.
And that’s when you came in.
With your support the basic necessities were provided: food, water, shelter, medical attention. Then the journey towards self sufficiency began: seedlings and livestock were provided to families. Schools were also built, using the work to earn principal World Vision strongly adheres to in the push to stimulate a community’s economy. Then a sense of normality began. But there was so much more to do.
Former child soldiers who managed to escape needed intense reintegration, rehabilitation and reconciliation. Many of these children found hope in the recovery centres in places like Gulu before they were reunited with any surviving family members. The reintegration process is long and requires many gentle and knowledgeable hands.
But it is possible.
While in the Soroti district during a WV Destination Life Change trip, I had the honour of meeting these children and hearing their hopes for their futures. I was never the same.
But I’ll tell you more about that next time.
My journey as an author, giving voice to those who can't - or won't - speak.