Prospering from the plight of others

The music coming from the makeshift church was a welcoming sound.

Equally welcoming was getting off the boda-boda after a 30km ride over pothole-ridden country lanes. I’ve yet to develop an ass-callous.

A call-ass? I digress.

The music took my mind off the fact that I was here in Lakwana to interview another 4 formerly abducted women. After 2 days ‘off’ at Mega FM, it was time to hit the road again.

So I enjoyed those 10 minutes of music.

Sunday morning singing at Lakwana church, Gulu District by marcellison

Sadly the interviews revealed more of the same.

Women abducted from their beds, or on their way to school. Forced to loot, breed and kill.

Sylvia tells me how NGOs like World Vision came last year to make lists of the problems facing them. She hasn’t heard from them since.

She also told me how people who aren’t former abductees have benefited while they continue to struggle.

Sylvia says that community leaders have passed off their own names and those of their family members as abductees. The names on those lists have apparently benefited financially from aid.

A number of the women told of how they were even abducted from the IDP camps; camps supposedly protected by the Ugandan armed forces.

22-year old Nancy told me of her escape. Heavily pregnant and on the run, she gave birth alone in the bush, cutting her own umbilical cord with spear grass.

Catherine gave over 100,000 shillings and 2 goats to a witch doctor to call out the spirits of those that she’d killed. She’d been told by her community that her past as a rebel was the reason two of her children had died.

Again I tried desperately to find something positive from the stories of these women.

Nancy told me how she’d just started a small restaurant in the last two months. She cooks 3 daily meals with no additional staff.

Bingo.

Alas, not so.

Despite her relative success compared to the other 24 women I’ve interviewed, she still doesn’t see herself as a success story.

She’s struggling to pay the interest on her bank loan, and still has to simultaneously look after her 6-year old boy who has malaria.

Next up: Kitgum.