The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) took a stronghold in Northern Uganda in 1986. Its leader, Joseph Kony, commanded his troops to overthrow the Ugandan government by abducting thousands of children and forcing them to work for him.
The Lord’s Resistance Army only had access to Northern Uganda, leaving half of the country in disarray while the other side of the country focused on economic and social advancement.
During its malevolent attacks, the LRA was known to kill the weak and old with machetes, swords, or stones. To further elicit fear, Kony would maim victims, leaving his mark on villages.
Kony’s attacks have scarred and uprooted the lives of nearly all Acholi people, who make up the majority of persons living in Northern Uganda. Due to fear, many have taken refuge and fled their homes. Many continued to stay in hiding even after Kony’s attacks became less frequent beginning in 2006.
Due to Joseph Kony’s reign of terror, nearly the entire population of Northern Uganda was displaced. Little was done to ensure that children had access to education, leaving the region with two generations of uneducated youth.
As the Acholi people began to feel safe enough to return to their homes, they became aware of the destruction that happened in their villages. There were no real jobs available, there was no access to education and there was no infrastructure.
Unlike in the rest of Uganda, where children have a chance to receive an education, the dire lack of facilities in Northern Uganda reinforces the cycle of poverty.
Many international organizations are trying to give Acholi children access to education and to help break the dreadful cycle of poverty that is looming over them. For example, War Child is an organization that seeks to ensure that children’s lives are not ruined by war.
War Child is helping by sending 2,000 of the poorest Acholi children to school. This involves training and giving grants to parents, siblings and other family members. In some cases, the grants are given to children directly, so that they may set up their own income-generating enterprises.
The organization is also training teachers in Northern Uganda to teach at a higher standard and to run schools efficiently. War Child also has a Youth Entrepreneurship Operation which provides loans to young Acholi people money to start their own businesses. War Child provides not only funding, but also mentorship and verbal support.
Between getting children in school, hiring and educating teachers and providing entrepreneurship starting blocks, War Child is bringing hope back to a recovering region. The humanitarian community hopes that other organizations will soon be inspired to undertake similar initiatives, in order to help rebuild lives in Northern Uganda.
– Bella Chaffey