O God, you know what I was

So began Jennifer’s prayer.

We are sat in her small, dimly lit tukul in Gulu with heads bowed, thunder rumbling in the distance a reminder that the rainy season is upon us. Her children play outside, the wind whipping up plumes of red dirt round them.

Jennifer insists on thanking God for the kindness of dozens of Canadians who have bought one of her photographs or simply donated money to help her re-establish herself in civilian life.

O God, you know what I was…

Jennifer’s prayer not only reflects a new-found religious conviction, but implies that she has left her dark past behind her.

For she is dwog paco – a former child soldier with the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Jennifer was just 13 when she was abducted and for 10 long years she was forced to be a wife, and trained to kill.

Since her return to civilian life four years ago, she’s done better than most to reintegrate back into her pre-war life.

When I met her for the first time a year ago she had a job making dolls at Watoto Church and had married a man who was willing to support her and the child she brought back with her from the bush.

But 12 months on, Jennifer says Christopher has now taken a second wife and no longer supports her. She rarely sees him and adds that the second wife’s mother has laid a curse upon her. She says that this witchcraft has caused her breasts to swell, making it painful to feed her baby Mao.

She says the money will help her pay the school fees of her two eldest children. They haven’t been to school for months. Jennifer says that the church hasn’t paid her in two months.

Jennifer says she will also have to use the money to find a new home to rent. The area where she lives now has been sold to a local developer. Jennifer says everything will bulldozed.

You won’t find me here when you come again.

I ask Jennifer if she’d seen Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 video. She says she hasn’t, but has heard about it.

Catching Kony is none of my business, she says. I don’t care whether he’s still free in the bush as long as I still have land to dig and live on.