She Will Rise!

Young girls from Northern Uganda were ambitious and had dreams like children born in different parts of the world. They had dreams of becoming great leaders, doctors, pilots and engineers but all these were shattered when they were taken into captivity. They were forced to drop out of school and were made to leave everything behind. This was the beginning of a nightmare, one that still resonates in their wakefulness.

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Some were given guns and were told that was all they needed for survival, to be great, to achieve their dreams. They were told the making of dreams needed sacrifices; of watching their siblings killed, friends mutilated, and their homes set ablaze. Escaping was never an option. Escaping was death.

And so, many made a life in captivity. They made friends and enemies and lived in fear of the people who promised them salvation and glory for fighting in a war they would never understand the cause. No one knew exactly what the fight was for; maybe it was God’s calling for the leader who insisted he led the “Lord’s Army.” It could have been for the rulership of a nation that had to start from somewhere and it started from their homes. It could have been both, but one never really knew. They just survived day after day.

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They were forced to become wives to commanders randomly assigned and picked and thrown around, divided and shared like they were nothing. They become mothers at ages they needed mothering themselves but they had to love their children and teach them that the life they lived was somehow reality, hoping one day real salvation might come their way and show them a better life.

Most of them came back as child mothers with their children from captivity only to be rejected by their own families, who often looked at them as a burden. Tracing the families of the fathers of their children was almost impossible, and they had to keep suffering even in a better environment.

They have had to toil to get shelter, feed and educate their children. Lacking academic qualifications means being in the low levels of casual labour and not being able to compete with those who had better opportunities and a less gruesome past.

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Most of these women, still young, have remarried so as to survive and provide a good life for their children, but some end up in a life of domestic violence and or separation with even a much bigger burden than when they went into these marriages. One of the major reasons is their past and the burden of the children they came with. The question is: What future do these children have?

The dreams of these women are to be economically empowered, independent and having their children educated. We at Youth Leaders for Restoration and Development (YOLRED) have trained some of these young women in financial literacy, that is to say generations of business ideas, how to start and improve a business, group dynamics, and village savings and loan associations (VSLA) to enhance their business and saving skills. We also gave them financial support to help them improve their businesses. In order to enhance the physical, psychological and mental healing of these child mothers, we always organize a yearly cultural festival which is also a platform for dialogue.

And once all these are achieved, maybe a better future is still ahead. Surely, she will rise again!!

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