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HOPE FOR UGANDA' S WAR CHILDREN

$200 of $26,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 34 months
APPEAL FOR THE EDUCATIONAL SPONSORSHIP AND FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN FOR POST- LRA/UPDF WAR CHILDREN

Ishmael Beah tells his story as a child soldier.

Introduction
My name is Carol Jamieson.  I am an American citizen, a mother of four grown children and grandmother to 9 grandchildren.  Several years ago I was introduced to the heart-breaking  story of Acholi children in Northern Uganda being abducted and taken for child-soldiers in Uganda.  I learned this by watching a documentary, which I have posted at the end of this story, called WAR DANCE.  It was the most heart-breaking true story that I had ever seen and I remember, when it was over, dropping to my knees in prayers and tears and pleading with God to help these children.  I also pleaded with Him to show me a way that I could help them if it was possible.  Well, He heard my prayers and He has answered them with a resounding YES, YOU CAN HELP THEM!  So, that's why I am here appealing to you.  As Americans, we were quite sheltered about these things in past years.  Even today, with the internet, the mainstream media does not keep us up to date with atrocities around the world in a way that keeps us informed.   In 2008, I was introduced to Facebook and though it took me a while to figure it out, I became quite proficient at it.  Approximately two years ago I was fortunate enough to meet my now very dear friend, Charles Oscar Akena, who was from Uganda.  We chatted on facebook for a while before I realized who he was.  I admired his poetry, which he publishes in a local newspaper.  I learned that he  was an Acholi.  He lived through the war and he saw these children being abducted.  He still sees the unfairness toward Acholi children whose lives have been interrupted to the extent that they struggle just to function, let alone getting an education and learning to raise their children, many of whom were born to  young girls who were abducted and gave birth in the bush.  The war is over, at least, the militia and guns are gone, but there is a lot of post-war damage and healing to be done.  I told Mr. Akena of my passion for these children and he spoke to me about someday trying to build a school.  I want to do that someday.    Our immediate concern is the much-needed education for these kids who are victims of a two-decade war in their land. I discovered Go Fund Me and saw it as an opportunity to achieve that goal.    So this fund-raiser is the combined effort of Mr. Charles Oscar Akena, an Acholi father of 5 children, and myself.  It is very close to my heart and very close to his soul.  He did some interviewing and research and provided most of the information you will see on this website.  
It is our sincere intent to first raise money to get children that cannot afford school supplies and fees, enrolled in school and secondly,  to raise money so as to be able to offer scholarships to Acholi post-war children.  There are so many needs.  The  Acholi people in  Northern Uganda are starting over.   

 We are ever so grateful for even the smallest donation, and the sincere well-wishers who are willing to post this site on their websites.   We want to make a difference in the lives of these children.     They also need special care and services above and beyond the normal student.  In the future, we would like to help in other much-needed services for the present and next generation of these presently helpless children.   

Mr. Akena is there in Uganda and will be providing on-going information about the children and their stories and we will be accountable to our donors for every donation.   We thank you for taking the time to read, watch some videos, and share.  We hope to touch your heart and inspire you to give to this beautiful and critical cause.

Vulnerable  Victims  And Survivors In Northern Uganda 

Northern Uganda ‘the worst human crisis'

Northern Uganda, in general,  and Acholi sub-region in particular, the epicentre of LRA / UPDF brutal war, is in recovery from the ‘worst forgotten humanitarian crisis on earth’,  Jan Egeland, as UN under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co- coordinator, lamented (in 2003) of the LRA / UPDF conflict,  and its toll in the Acholi sub-region.


Net impoverishment
This  brutal war that saw more than two million people displaced from  their homes. They were forcefully herded into more than 200 Internally Displaced Peoples Camps (IDPs) across the region and accusations of widespread human rights violations,  including the abduction of over  24,000 children,  for forced combat and hostilities.    Even as of today.  half of these abducted children are not accounted for.  They were forced into unthinkable crimes for  a child's mind, including murder, sometimes being forced to murder their own parents or friends, or forced to watch the murder and then to pick up chopped pieces of their parents' bodies for burial,  mutilations,  child-sex slavery,  rape, sodomy,  looting,  defecating in dry food rations and water pots, etc.  The atrocities have resulted in the tragic impoverishment of an entire generation.


Is Acholi society dying?
It is difficult to find anyone in northern Uganda's Acholi sub-region who has not been affected by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.


"This is a society dying by the roots", in the words of Baker Ochola, the retired Anglican Bishop of Kitgum.


Lost generation
Besides the gross violations of human rights, the conflict in Northern Uganda has damaged the fabric of Acholi society. With children and youths the main target of LRA abductions, the memories of rebel atrocities will take generations to fade away.


"The war has a lot of effects; we have lost a whole generation, which is dangerous for the nation. People are dangerously illiterate. The kinds of children growing up today have a very limited idea of how decent people should live."
 Charles Umar told IRIN.

Post-conflict challenges
Currently, Acholiland, which was the epicenter of the LRA – UPDF rebellion for over two decades is dealing with multiple post-conflict challenges.

War’s most vulnerable victims
While Uganda has now achieved a state of relative peace, and the LRA has moved away from the northern Ugandan region, the effects of these volatile times still remain evident in the war’s most vulnerable victims:  the children and their children.

Major social casualties
Lack of education and proper health care for Northern Uganda’s children are rooted in the war and conflict that had raged between the government and the rebel armies for decades.


Numbers do not lie
Since the fighting stopped in 2006,  relative security has returned to the region and 90% of the population has returned to their villages or transit sites.

Education not for all?
Although Uganda has Universal Primary and Secondary Education (i.e. it is supposed to be free) in practice, there are often hidden costs such as  books and uniforms and PTA (Parents Teachers Associations) contributions,  that prevent children from attending school.

Family poverty
Family poverty and early marriage or household duties require   many children to drop out of school because they're needed at home.   Although enrollment numbers are over 90%, only 43% of boys and 27% of girls actually complete Primary school.




Painful reality
Recent research underscores how grave the situation is in Northern Uganda on children and their education

1.  One-third of all children above 10 years old have lost a parent and 9 percent of returnee (the people/children who have left the IPD’s camps and gone back to their villages) children in the villages are orphans.

2.  Illiteracy is very high, particularly among women (84 percent).  Only 9 percent of men and 1 percent of women have completed secondary school.

3. 16.3% of school children in northern Uganda do not get midday meal because schools are distant from home.

4.  Most returnee children have very few possessions  if any, and no longer have animals or easy access to their ancestral land.

5.  Youth idleness and unemployment are big problems..  Crime rates are extraordinarily high in the villages/towns.


Higher declines
The statistics of admission, attendance and completion declines  with each higher secondary and University level attained.



Victims
Gray-haired men and women  are living society’s library.  They  are a rarity  in our present community because of the past LRA/UPDF wars.

Parents who've lost their children forever.

Leadership, culture, and education are victims of this war.  The children’s mindset and exposure is not equal to their age mates elsewhere in the country.  Yet, they must prepare for the same national educational examinations and face the same panelist for the same Job interviews,  face the same market for the same products and services in life,  irrespective of their past disadvantaged backgrounds,  which has adversely affected their purchasing power,  mercilessly.

Rehabilitating an escapee.

Investing in youth must be a priority
The importance of investing in Uganda’s greatest asset, the energy and creativity of its children and youth,  is a natural resource that must be optimally harnessed.



Children are the future
Investing in all children’s education, health and well-being and protecting them from harm and exploitation, contribute to sustainable regional and national development.


Under-served youth

One of the most crucial but under-served sectors of the population in Northern Uganda is its' youth.


Economic disparity (and/or marginalization), underdevelopment and poverty
Entire generations of young people in the Northern Provinces have known nothing but war.  They have, by default,  lost out on education,  employment,  the enjoyment of political freedoms and social and cultural rights, and, by implication, the ability to become the policy leaders and sharpeners  of the future,  securing a hitherto hardworking and productive  people  to a plight of underdevelopment and abject poverty.




Destructive behaviors
Young people returning from the camps and in the villages are restless and idle and thus susceptible to violence and other destructive behaviors.

Role models
In response, youth organizations and networks,  as well as the newly established Gulu University, are playing,  or could potentially play,  an increasingly important leadership role.   Although their institutional capacity is generally weak, they provide a critical role in the development of young leaders, alternative learning,  and participation in public and social life.


What we have planned to do
We will identify 2000 of the poorest and most marginalized children (orphans, those living with HIV, child-headed households, returnees, etc)  from households for appropriate educational scholarships, information technologies and entrepreneurial training for a five-year outreach.

School in Northern Uganda
New modern secondary school ready for students!


Sponsorship
The educational sponsorship will cover primary, secondary, higher secondary and university or colleges.
We’ll secure both local and international support/partners to support people in those families to earn a decent income so that they can,  in the future,  be able to send their children to school.  This involves giving training and grants to the parents, siblings (and in some cases the children themselves) to set up their own income generating enterprises.   Examples include market stalls, bee-keeping,  tailoring,  wielding and fabrication,  building and construction skills,  livestock and agriculture production etc.


We shall encourage and empower the youth to appreciate their culture and make a  positive translation of their history through education, music, dance and drama as a healing and restorative medium.



“It takes time to encounter and listen to the narratives and perspectives of the war victims of Acholi region”


The story of a victim of sexual violence:
‘In February 1997, Larem, then 22-years old, was abducted along with three other women.   As is the fate of most abducted women, they were bound to be forcefully given to rebel soldiers as their wives. “If a rebel chooses you, however old he is, you could not say no or show any sign of resistance whenever he wanted to have sex with you or else you would be tortured seriously or even killed,” Larem says.



On their journey, more women were abducted. At one point a pregnant woman that was in the group attempted to escape but she was captured by the rebels afterward. Then the rebels asked:  “Do you know where this girl is coming from?”   The women answered that she was from Odek.   Then the rebels replied: “She tried to escape and now we have brought her to you so that you can kill her.”

As much as the women did not want to kill the woman, the fear that they were feeling, and the certainty of what would happen to them if they did not follow the rebels’  orders, forced them to do something they would never have imagined they would do.


"We were very scared to kill our friend but we had to obey or else we would die.   So one girl got up and hit this pregnant girl with a stick slowly and immediately a rebel cut her with a panga to death.   On seeing this, we got our pangas and hoes and cut her to death because the rebels were already annoyed with us."


After this horrible event, they continued walking when the NRA bombed the rebels.   After being injured on her leg, Larem found an opportunity to escape.   After traveling a short distance,  she surrendered to government soldiers.   And after four days of searching for her parents, she got back home.

After these events in 1999, Larem was abducted again.   She and her three sisters were hiding in the bush when the rebels found them.   Her two younger sisters were left behind and her older sister managed to escape.  She was abducted that night along with other people from Odek and Awere.   According to Larem. “All the women were given as wives to the rebels who kept having sex with us whenever they liked.” After some time, she fell pregnant with the child of the man to whom she was given as a wife.

One day, when walking with the rebels towards Ongany in Pader district, they passed through a home where two men and two pregnant women were seated outside.  When the men saw the rebels they ran and left the women there.  The rebels asked the women why the men ran then immediately shot them.  During those days, government soldiers were following the rebels very closely.  One evening, Larem hid in the bush and  the next morning she went to a house of an old
man,  The old man helped look  for her parents and took her to them,  after convincing them that she was not a rebel.


Years later, Larem is still struggling to survive.  Her education was interrupted by these abductions and her father was not able to take her to school after she gave birth.  She gave birth to a child during captivity.  She is now married and has three more children but her husband only supports and cares for his own children.  Paying school fees and providing all the needs of her child is very difficult.   She requests the government and NGOs to help her in order to secure the future of her child born in captivity.(Interview with a 39-year-old woman, 20 January 2014.)


Ronnie Obwoya, 23, Gulu, Uganda
“I cry not because I am defeated in life, no no!  I cry with joy because I am alive.   I have hope of a better life if I complete my University then my dream will come true.  I want to become a 3D/ Animator specialist and entrepreneur, and use my knowledge and skills to benefit my affected society."

The reality set forth in this posting /appeal provides concrete opportunities for donors and well-wishers to offer support to thousands of children and youths in Northern Uganda and to set them on the road to a productive life.

The minimum reality shared here and much on the ground overwhelms the heart and supports documented evidence that government, donors, and well-wishers will be able to use to respond positively  towards the cause that the Carol Jamieson Scholarship Fund and associates have embarked to address.

Even modest funding now will help provide critical services to those most in need and give young people access to educational scholarships, information technologies, and entrepreneurial programs.


THESE CHILDREN, THEIR FUTURE IS WHAT  WE  GIVE THEM TODAY
Lakidi Alvin Akena, is an above average intelligent crèche class pupil at SOS Kindergarten School, Entebbe.  At three years next January 2016, he is now promoted to middle class.  Friendly, inquisitive and ever with leading questions, which attract relevant answers upon request. He  also enjoys music, rebuilding models and playing the piano.   Lakidi’s environment is “A loving home for every child”,  extremely empowering and stimulating to the infant children.  The classrooms and playing areas are spacious and tidy with appropriate learning and playing aids. The teachers and caregivers are all a part of the healthy Kindergarten.  Yesterday, Nov. 26, 2015, the top class graduated. What a colorful presentation it was!  All the classes had a piece or two to present individually or collectively!


To prove that the children and staff of SOS is a family and well groomed to effectively interface with the world, they all got involved in a cross-generational story, “The Sound of Music” presentation.   The presentation was  based on “The Sound Of Music” by Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse,  released in April of 1965 (USA).  They did it justice,sang the “The Sound Of Music” and delivered it to the well attended, excited and satisfied audience!  “These Children, Their Future Is What We Give Them Today”.  This presentation experience endeared the parents and visitors to the school,  justifying why every child should  graduate at SOS Kindergarten or schools of similar empowerment, exposures,  and commitments.   The top class graduates did finish their three preparatory years. They are now ready for a seven-year primary education that precedes four years of ordinary secondary then two years of advanced level secondary schooling that when passed, ushers one to between four to seven years of University studies.  At the climax, they were presented with their completion certificates as they finally bid the school and audience “So Long, Farewell” and “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” sweet and memorable songs!


This Early Child Development Centre (ECD) equips the children of this world and the future  with appropriate foundational knowledge and skills to help self and humanity advance.  This foundational welfare determines every child's future.  However, thousands of their age-mates in the countryside,  even next door,  do not have the privilege of starting, sustaining and completing nursery education, nevermind joining and completing higher stages.   Others skip it to start primary  school because of “dodging” expenses, age or parental fatigue,  burdens, poverty or ignorance resulting from illiteracy.

The 'invisible children' of the post-LRA/NRA/UPDF war,  though vulnerable victims and survivors,  deserve basic rights to access and complete  their education at all levels like any other children across Uganda and the world.



If these unfortunate and psychologically damaged children are not given hope,  or the opportunity to discover their talents and what they are capable of, their past will pummel them into a future of chaos and destruction.  Uganda's society is the loser in such a situation.   Most of them exhibit an eager desire to rejoin society.  They have the daunting task of learning again how to trust others and love themselves.  It can be done.  It MUST be done!
 

With the New school calendar starting on February 23, 2016
Carol Jamieson and other passionate well-wishers  for these children of Uganda have resolved by faith and action, to talk to every heart near and far, using all communication mediums accessible,  to 'children who are  now without hope'.  This opportunity will kick-start a kid's chance for  a  complete education.   Education is their hope and the only hope to rebuild a strong and productive society in our war-stricken land in Northern Uganda.


“A peaceful and quality world comes from peaceful,   well nurtured and quality educated children.”


Witness
Adong Nighty, 30 yrs old, an LRA War victim from the Acholi region

Nighty Adong, 30, is a mother of seven from Pamuja Parish in Amuru District (Uganda) and was in (LRA) captivity for over 3 years.   Adong said that the majority of ex-combatants and victims suffer from mental illness with physical and physiological trauma and war memories of atrocities committed,  which has remained untreated.   Relationships break down because they are blamed for acting within the ranks of the LRA”.



Why do they lack?
The majority lack  because those who have did not plan, they did not share, and they did not give.   This problem becomes endemic.

The realities set forth in this  posting and appeal stirs urgency to action and opportunity for donors and well-wishers to offer support to thousands of children and youths in Northern Uganda and to set them on the road to a  productive life.


BUDGET 
Dear friends, parents,  and well-wishers, you can help change a child's life by contributing US $ 20 or more, per month.  We envisage 100 pupils/students confirmed sponsorships by the start of the new academic calendar year Feb, 15, 2016.

US $ 260 per pupil/student will provide school fees, uniforms, exercise books, pencils/pens, bag, swimming, shuttle and porridge/meals across all class levels per term, with three terms per one school year.

The School Year
While Universities have two semesters on average of five months each per year, most Universities have admissions/commencement of their programs in July/August.  Others have two separate admissions per year.   Government and private Universities operate independently and have separate admissions time frames.  The specifics would be different.
In our case, we would look at an average budgetary provision of US $ 260 per child/student times three terms per year, TOTALING  US $ 780 per student year.  This averages out to $65.00 a month to sponsor a child for  the full school year.

Total 
US $ 26,000 before February 15, 2016 , for 100 pupils, for the first term (semester).  The second and third terms, projected to consider an increment of twenty-five students respectively.  This will enable the program to sponsor  two hundred students plus at the beginning of the second year,  2017.

Together, if we care, we can create hope.....
The world, together, can create a new generation of hope, faith and grace to live, overcome and resolve peacefully all emerging contradictions in their lifetime, without fear or favor.  These children and youths, when grown up, will provide their world with purpose and peace for the next inheritors of this world.

Why?
It is because; together we cared, planned and gave at the time needed.

Poem by Charles Oscar Akena, an Acholi in Uganda and co-founder of this fundraiser:

www.blackstarnews.com/education/education/poetry-if-we-all-cared.html

Every child needs friends and an empowered environment to learn from.  Will you sponsor one child and help us water this seed with hope?


These "Toto's" today are youths and adults and national and world leaders of tomorrow.

Ambassador Olara Otunnu concerns on Acholiland, schools and education
in the post - LRA/UPDF war challenges:
‘Besides land, I spoke about the collapse of public schools and education in Acoliland. Some of Uganda’s best gifts to the world in all fields have come from “this land, this culture, and this civilization”. I recalled Janani Luwum, Okot p’Bitek, David Otii, Semei  Nyanzi, Alexander Latim, A. M. Odonga, Fr Anthony Okello,
Tiberio Okeny and others. These were the product of a tradition of quality and affordable education. Where are the schools and institutions that should nurture the successors to these luminaries?'


Renewed Hope for post Child-Soldiers in Uganda

In them and in CAROL JAMIESON EDUCATIONAL SPONSORSHIP FUND, let us consciously and collectively nurture them to becoming competent world managers and peaceful inhabitants for another generation to emulate and advance.

CONCLUSION
Today, Northern Uganda enjoys relative peace, the return of peace in the region is not a construct; there are no more rebel activities, that is, if we take peace to mean absence of armed  violence however,  the presence of structural violence in terms of poverty, poor infrastructure, and worsened by post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and physical disabilities still remain a problem.   This violates the definition of peace, as many young people (directly affected by war) are not at peace with themselves or their communities, stemming from the fact that children in the region have grown up in a gloom of war, lived in extreme fear and with disfigurement left on people by armed conflict.



The armed conflict in Northern Uganda devastated all spheres of human life. The effects are heavily felt by children as they were the primary target for recruit into rebel activities, as child soldiers. The experience of warfare subjected a big number of children to witnessing and facing  unimaginable acts of human rights violation,  both directly and indirectly. Though efforts of rehabilitation were tailored towards comprehensive reintegration meant to normalize the life of these children, the physical and mental effects still prevail  long after the armed war.

It,  therefore,  calls for continuous effort from various communities and stakeholders to continue supporting the survivors of LRA war, in various aspects.

Looking to the future, the proposed Carol Jamieson Scholarship Fund will create a venue for donors to continue their support over the long term to reverse the spoils of the two decades of armed war (1986 – 2006) and consequential inequalities.
By helping vulnerable victims and survivor youths, children born in captivity and child-headed families etc.,  we resolve the lack of education and skills acquisition and allow them to learn  to help themselves and to take pride in themselves by giving back to their society. 

The investment will serve current and future generations of Northern Ugandans as they rebuild their war-ravaged communities and seek to provide a better life for their own and hopeful generations to come.

We invite you to join us and contribute toward the realization of this educational scholarship fund, for the HOPE of the post - LRA / UPDF war vulnerable children, the  victims and survivors of Northern Uganda.

Charles Oscar Akena
Founder/ Volunteer
CAROL JAMIESON SCHOLARSHIP FUND.
P. O Box 241
Gulu, Uganda

Please see the  videos posted below for a  detailed and personable education on the devastating 20 year war that has taken an unimaginable toll  on the present generation and  on a generation of  unplanned for and uncared for children.  Many of these children were born in captivity.   There are so many children who are orphans. They deserve to live in an environment that can offer them dignity and pride in who they are and who they represent.   They  the Acholi people.   They are a courageous  and strong people.   Even though they live in a post - war era and bear the scars of war,  they  can  overcome and do great things.
 
They need people who care.   If everybody cares,  even if just someone cares,  we can heal these people and give them an opportunity to be prosperous and to give of  their unique talents to a world that needs them. 

A POEM DEDICATED TO THE POST-WAR CHILDREN



Please watch the documentary posted below.   It is called WAR DANCE.   It  will surely touch your heart.



The following video is  a first-hand account of the direct effects on society and the damage that living in a civil war environment imposes on the people & the children.   It is the account of a young man, Ishmael Beah, who spent two years in the Bush of Sierra Leone as a child soldier and what it took for him to recover.  It is very informative and entertaining. 



More educational articles from Uganda Headlines:

Female child soldiers in Uganda struggle to return to normal..

Patongo, Agago District, Acholi Sub-region, Northern Uganda

Female children abducted to become bush-wives


The Acholi Tradition is rich with music and dance.  Learning their traditions through education will be an important healing tool for these post-war  children.




THANK YOU FOR CARING!

REMEMBER!
WE ARE EACH OTHERS KEEPER
AREN'T WE?

Yes!
Together We Can
Transform these lives

And
Restore Hope
And
Human beauty

When you withhold that dollar
You kill Hope

When you donate that dollar
You save life

You transform life
Life is empowered
Once more

We are each other’s keeper

+ Read More
Tragedy of kidnapped child soldiers forced to kill or be killed by Joseph Kony's savage Lord’s Resistance Army

00:00, 16 SEP 2013
BY TOM PARRY
Kony fooled his young troops by claiming a holy spirit entitled him to seize power. The rag-tag LRA looted villages and kidnapped new young victims
Former child soldier Charles Akallo
Ordeal: Former child soldier Charles Akallo


At 12 years old, Charles Akallo should have been kicking a football – instead he was handed a gun.

Abducted by the savage Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda he had a simple choice: kill or be killed.

Like more than 30,000 other children brainwashed by notorious militia leader Joseph Kony he was transformed into a bloodthirsty assassin eager to commit atrocities.

Charles’ confessed crimes are truly grotesque. Once he tied eight people together, poured petrol over them and burned them alive.

Another time the 27-year-old cut out his victim’s brain and ate it.

As recently as January he wiped out six innocent civilians in a hail of bullets without any provocation.

I meet Charles – now maimed by a bullet that shattered his left leg – on the day he is being returned to his remote home village for the first time in 15 years.

We are travelling from a rehabilitation centre for child soldiers back to the grass-roofed clay hut he was abducted from.

The last time he saw his mum, he was an angelic schoolboy.

Today he is a hardened killer responsible for at least 100 murders.

Never letting slip his cold executioner’s stare, Charles provides a shocking description of the indoctrination rituals child soldiers were forced to go through.

“For training we would raid a village,” he tells me. “Each of us had to shoot two people through the head.

"It took me too long to kill someone, they said, so I had 50 strokes of the cane.

“Children showing nervousness would be shot. Kony’s commanders would force us to lick the blood of the people we shot.

"We had to cut their skulls open to remove some of the brain which we had to eat in front of them.

“After this indoctrination our orders were to kill the first person we met as we walked to the next camp.

“Being like this became normal. We would gouge out the eyes of some people. We cut off their ears if they didn’t listen. This was what Kony demanded.”

Forced to take part in the bloodiest guerrilla war of recent times, Charles had his youth snatched away.

And now the ex-child soldier – who was Kony’s aide-de-camp – hobbles on crutches into the minibus.

Metal pins have been screwed into his splintered thigh.

The journey from Gulu, six hours north of the capital Kampala, is a spine-juddering five-hour ride down potholed tracks made impassable by rain. But Charles never complains.

His gaze is unflinching as he speaks of being force-marched into Sudan after his kidnapping.

“I was badly beaten and threatened with a gun,” he says. “For weeks we walked and along the way they abducted other children. They tied us together with rope.

“We walked day and night with few chances to drink or eat – some children became too weak.

“One man would point his gun at whoever was complaining and pull the trigger. More than 10 children were killed along the way.

“When we got to Sudan we met Joseph Kony for the first time. He said everyone there had been kidnapped from Uganda. He said he had been abducted by God and if any of us tried to escape we would be killed.

“Right then, he pulled one boy out of the line and told his commander to shoot him dead in front of us.”

In January Charles was shot in the leg in a battle with Ugandan government forces.

Airlifted to hospital by his captors, he was finally free of Kony.

Back then Charles wore camouflage fatigues with epaulettes.

Now he wears a handed-down grey polo shirt, ill-fitting football shorts and a pair of red flip-flops – and dreams of a simple life back home with his mother.

But when we finally reach the village, having had to abandon one vehicle in the quagmire, there is no immediate joy on his face.

His mentors from British charity World Vision advise me it is normal for brutalised child soldiers to be apprehensive.

It takes a while before he is confident enough to sit down with his joyous mother Auma. But there is another reason he doesn’t smile.

A few years ago Kony cut out two of Charles’ front teeth as a public punishment for laughing too much.

“Kony said he would teach me a lesson,” Charles explains.

“He grabbed a knife and, before I could react, cut two teeth out of my mouth. The pain was unbelievable, like nothing I have ever felt before.

“But then he told me to carry on laughing. This was the worst time.

“I accept guilt for what I did. But I just could not consider running away.

“If I had disobeyed orders I would be dead.”

Kony fooled his young troops by claiming a holy spirit entitled him to seize power in Uganda.

The rag-tag LRA looted villages, topping up its numbers by kidnapping new young victims.

Children slept rough on the streets of Gulu to escape its roving soldiers. But eight months after his rescue Charles still seems to be in awe of Kony – who remains at large despite being among the world’s most wanted men.

At the height of the conflict between the LRA and the Ugandan army nearly two million people in the north fled their homes. Most lived in refugee camps and are only now returning to villages.

Kony was last photographed at peace talks in South Sudan in 2006. He shook hands with senior UN officials but refused to sign a peace deal.

Spurred on by the breakdown in negotiations, Kony and the LRA went on an offensive, carrying out a massacre on Christmas Day 2008.

Last year a global campaign spearheaded by actor George Clooney brought 51-year-old Kony’s atrocities to global attention.

He and three of his generals are wanted in The Hague for war crimes. However, an amnesty has been declared for abducted child soldiers.

World Vision counsellor Charles Onekalit has helped hundreds of ex-LRA soldiers return to civilian lives.

Nearly 16,000 have passed through the rehab hostel in Gulu.

The majority were kidnapped before their 10th birthday and are unable to read or write. Their only means of describing their ordeal is through drawing.


Visit link below for the rest of the story:

https://educatewarchild.org/2016/08/22/tragedy-of-kidnapped-child-soldiers/

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Our mission is to raise awareness and to raise funds for those who, in the aftermath of this long war, are so poverty stricken that they are not able to go back to school. We hope that you will join us in this noble cause to obliterate illiteracy and help these victims become self-sufficient. David Okech is the example we wish to use to show the benefit of giving these kids a chance. They can then begin to pay it forward. After all, they are Uganda's leaders of tomorrow. It will be a safer world for all of us, and our children, if we join in this critically important effort to bring healing to Northern Uganda, the home of the people, mostly Acholi, who have been so brutally oppressed for decades.


Perry Chiaramonte
By Perry Chiaramonte....Published October 06, 2013
Ocitti "David" Okech was just 17 when rebels invaded his tiny village in northern Uganda, beating his father to death as he watched, taking away the rest of his family and forcing him to become one of thousands of soldiers in the army of wanted warlord Joseph Kony.


It was 2003, and Okech still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of unfathomable brutality, back-breaking labor and hopeless misery. Rebels serving in Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, a violent cult that mixes a warped Christian fundamentalism with African mysticism and violence, swarmed the rural village of Pabbo. They rounded up the young -- some no more than 10 years old -- and started to break them down.

“They asked me what I valued most,” Okech told FoxNews.com. "They then killed him in front of me.”

Our mission is to raise awareness and to raise funds for those who, in the aftermath of this long war, are so poverty stricken that they are not able to go back to school. We hope that you will join us in this noble cause to obliterate illiteracy and help these victims become self-sufficient. David Okech is the example we wish to use to show the benefit of giving these kids a chance. They can then begin to pay it forward. After all, they are Uganda's leaders of tomorrow. It will be a safer world for all of us, and our children, if we join in this critically important effort to bring healing to Northern Uganda, the home of the people, mostly Acholi, who have been so brutally oppressed for decades.


Perry Chiaramonte
By Perry Chiaramonte....Published October 06, 2013
Ocitti "David" Okech was just 17 when rebels invaded his tiny village in northern Uganda, beating his father to death as he watched, taking away the rest of his family and forcing him to become one of thousands of soldiers in the army of wanted warlord Joseph Kony.


It was 2003, and Okech still vividly recalls his involuntary induction into a world of unfathomable brutality, back-breaking labor and hopeless misery. Rebels serving in Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, a violent cult that mixes a warped Christian fundamentalism with African mysticism and violence, swarmed the rural village of Pabbo. They rounded up the young -- some no more than 10 years old -- and started to break them down.

“They asked me what I valued most,” Okech told FoxNews.com. "They then killed him in front of me.”

Visit the link below for the rest of the story:
( https://educatewarchild.org/2016/05/17/jungle-horror-a-child-soldiers-story/))
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Northern Uganda, ‘the worst human crisis'

Northern Uganda, in general, and Acholi sub-region in particular, the epicentre of LRA / UPDF brutal war, is in recovery from the ‘worst forgotten humanitarian crisis on earth’, Jan Egeland, as UN under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co- coordinator, lamented (in 2003) of the LRA / UPDF conflict, and its toll in the Acholi sub-region.

This brutal war that saw more than two million people displaced from their homes. They were forcefully herded into more than 200 Internally Displaced Peoples Camps (IDPs) across the region and accusations of widespread human rights violations, including the abduction of over 24,000 children, for forced combat and hostilities. Even as of today. half of these abducted children are not accounted for. They were forced into unthinkable crimes for a child's mind, including murder, sometimes being forced to murder their own parents or friends, or forced to watch the murder and then to pick up chopped pieces of their parents' bodies for burial, mutilations, child-sex slavery, rape, sodomy, looting, defecating in dry food rations and water pots, etc. The atrocities have resulted in the tragic impoverishment of an entire generation.

It is difficult to find anyone in northern Uganda's Acholi sub-region who has not been affected by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency.
"The war has a lot of effects; we have lost a whole generation, which is dangerous for the nation. People are dangerously illiterate. The kinds of children growing up today have a very limited idea of how decent people should live." Charles Umar told IRIN.

Currently, Acholiland, which was the epicenter of the LRA – UPDF rebellion for over two decades is dealing with multiple post-conflict challenges.

While Uganda has now achieved a state of relative peace, and the LRA has moved away from the northern Ugandan region, the effects of these volatile times still remain evident in the war’s most vulnerable victims: the children and their children.

Recent research underscores how grave the situation is in Northern Uganda on children and their education One-third of all children above 10 years old have lost a parent and 9 percent of returnee (the people/children who have left the IPD camps and gone back to their villages) children in the villages are orphans
Illiteracy is very high, particularly among women (84 percent). Only 9 percent of men and 1 percent of women have completed secondary school.
3.16.3% of school children in northern Uganda do not get midday meal because schools are distant from home.
Most returnee children have very few possessions if any, and no longer have animals or easy access to their ancestral land.
Youth idleness and unemployment are big problems. Crime rates are extraordinarily high in the villages/towns.

Leadership, culture, and education are victims of this war. The children’s mindset and exposure is not equal to their age mates elsewhere in the country. Yet, they must prepare for the same national educational examinations and face the same panelist for the same Job interviews, face the same market for the same products and services in life, irrespective of their past disadvantaged backgrounds, which has adversely affected their purchasing power, mercilessly.

If these unfortunate and psychologically damaged children are not given hope, or the opportunity to discover their talents and what they are capable of, their past will pummel them into a future of chaos and destruction. Uganda's society is the looser in such a situation. Most of them exhibit an eager desire to rejoin society. They have the daunting task of learning again how to trust others and love themselves. It can be done. It MUST be done!

Together, if we care, we can create hope.....
The world, together, can create a new generation of hope, faith, and grace to live, overcome and resolve peacefully all emerging contradictions in their lifetime, without fear or favor.
These children and youths, when grown up, will provide their world with purpose and peace for the next inheritors of this world.

Please visit www.educatewarchild.org for more information.


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Alex keeps secrets. Secrets from when he was a boy in northern Uganda. For twelve years his mother has been too scared to ask him about them.

Alex Olango was ten when he was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the armed group that has fought against the Ugandan government since the 1980s. He was alone by a river near his home when a strange man wearing ragged army fatigues grabbed him. A gun was put to his head. His hands were bound together and he was beaten. He disappeared for two years.


Conflict between the Ugandan Government and the LRA first began in the 1980s ©YoTuT

Scars of a boy soldier

10 years after escaping from the LRA, Alex decided to share his secrets of living in the bush and being a child soldier with the notorious armed group. The title of his book published this month,Scars of a Boy Soldier, is a reference to the hundreds of lashes he received at the whim of his commanders.

Alex is one of tens of thousands of children who were abducted. ‘This is a story for Uganda,’ he says. ‘They need to know what happened. There are children out there still suffering.’

‘My mother is struggling with reading the book,’ he says. ‘Ever since I came back from the bush she has never asked me anything. I know she has questions. But she thinks it’s not right to ask.’

It is a book of tragic and horrific secrets – his abduction, terrifying initiation, and eventual escape. It’s a journey that took him from being a playful boy to a war crime victim, forced into fighting.

Now 25, Alex is studying to be a doctor at Kampala International University, Uganda. He and his girlfriend have an eight-month-old baby girl. ‘Many years have now passed,’ he says. ‘With time, it heals.’

Whilst Alex studies, an alleged former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Netherlands).

Escape and returning home

Many children like Alex never returned. Yet, even after he escaped, coming home was difficult. ‘When I first came back I went straight back to the same primary school I had been in before. I came back there after being away for two years. The other pupils knew. Friends are scared of you. You’re a child growing up with stigma. You’re walking home and you see a group…’ He doesn’t finish his sentence.

‘The war was still going on. I was back in my home town and I thought I might be captured again. I lived in fear.’


Escape from the LRA marked the beginning of Alex’s journey back into his home community © Jake Stimpson

When he passed his primary school exams he received a scholarship for a boarding school on the other side of the country. ‘I wanted to run away from this life. I just landed there. There, no one knew what I went through.’

But he struggled with his secrets. ‘I had quite a temper at high school. I got into a lot of trouble. I even got suspended. It was the impact of what I went through.’

‘Many people don’t know what happened. What I needed was someone to listen to me. And when they did, I opened up. The first time I spoke I was sweating. I wanted to run away. But it had a healing effect too. You could say it was a turning point. Without it I would have been thrown out of school.’


The opportunity to study marked a turning point for Alex © Matt Lucht

Uncertain futures

Uganda is relatively calm now. ‘The people here are trying to know what peace is,’ Alex says.

Since being pushed out of Uganda, the LRA have roamed in South Sudan, as well as Central African Republic, and Democratic Republic of Congo, where it continues to abduct children.

In The Hague, Dominic Ongwen is awaiting trial. The alleged LRA commander is charged with 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape and enslavement. But his case has divided opinions – he was abducted as a child.

‘The government has not been fair to him,’ Alex says. ‘He is a victim, even though he has done so many things. That’s what you go through. To kill somebody every day. You have been forced to do it. He was taken at 10 years of age. All of us have sons and brothers who are 10 years old. I wish that the government would grant him amnesty like they did for us.’

In Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, former girl soldiers – many abducted and abused by the LRA – are struggling to reintegrate back into their communities. Child Soldiers International and its partners are providing them with support, including education.

Asked about his own future, Alex says he hopes to graduate and raise his family. ‘I want to give back to my community. I want to be a doctor. And a doctor can do that.’

Scars of a Boy Soldier by Alex Olango, published by New Generation Publishing, is available to buy from Amazon and Waterstones.


Alex plans to use funds raised from book sales to fund the building of a health clinic in his home town of Pader, Uganda.

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$200 of $26,000 goal

Raised by 4 people in 34 months
Created December 29, 2015
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Carol L. Jamieson
33 months ago

Praying for blessings on every penny donated to help these desperate chilftrn. They deserve an education!

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