flick-a-vision: lira labyrinth

Fearless.

That’s probably the best way to describe 20-year old Janet.

I met with her for the final time this week. We spent the day together just hanging out. She made me odii (peanut paste) and cassava for lunch before we conducted our final interview.

Click on the soundslide below to start it.

Janet’s sharp as a tack, and it turns out after all these weeks that we’ve spent together, her English is almost fluent.

I’ll miss her shy smile and vitality.

It’s hard to believe she only came back from the bush last year, but when you start talking to her she reveals the pain she continues to undergo.

“Now that I am back at home and I was supposed to have an easy life. I was raped by 3 UPDF soldiers weeks after my return and I am now pregnant. I don’t have a father to take care of me – I came back and found that my father had passed away so there’s no-one to stand in for me. I was taken for a test to find out my status, but they found that I was negative, but that I was pregnant. I am not happy because I am going to give birth to this child whose father I don’t even know, and I don’t even have money to take care of it.”

We walk into town together to the congested market place where she’s getting tailoring lessons.

“I don’t know where I will be in a year despite the fact that I am attending the tailoring. I have already learnt how to tailor but most people come to you when you have materials. They choose a material and then you sew it for them. But I don’t have money to buy materials so cannot I cannot guess after one year where I will be. It is very hard to predict the future.”

She tells me how she feels abandoned by the Ugandan government and the NGOs, explaining how since the number of returnees has dwindled in recent years most of the NGOs and reception centres are shutting up shop.

“Those who came back before me were lucky. Some were taken back to school. Others were built houses. Others opened for them businesses. And there were many NGOs in operation. But now that I have come back these things are not there. I think that in those days the NGOs would pick someone, pay for them in school, pay for their kids, build them a house. But now these things are not there. The govt should do something to help people like me because ever since I came back I have received nothing and no-one has bothered to follow up with me.”

Despite these hardships, it amazes me that Janet can put a smile on her face.

As I said, fearless.