When I interviewed some of the child soldiers who visited the Gulu recovery center for children of war in Uganda I wanted to show them my gratefulness for sharing their stories and reliving their horrid pasts. One of these gifts was a soccer ball.
I will never forget what James did when I gave him a ball. He looked at it and held it to his chest and he smiled. Not just a grin, but a huge smile that filled his face and seeped into his eyes. He murmured thank you and then turned to walk away, then he stopped and said:
“Kony took more than our families and our way of life away. He took away our childhood. I will never be able to enjoy the carefree day of youth again. But sometime I like to go back and live it - as an adult. When the nightmare come, I go and I find my friend and we play the game. It help me to see better again.”
I hope there are many, many games played James. And somehow a piece of that lost childhood, found.