‘While many were fleeing, we stayed’
During the outbreak of war in 1986, many people fled Gulu in Northern Uganda because of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The news about the rebels began like a rumor, so few people were skeptical about the rebels because they couldn’t believe it was true and those who believed wouldn’t think that the war would pass by their villages.
We heard women were being raped, robbed and people’s mouths were being cut off, young ones were being taken to fight for the rebels. Confusion started in our village too, people started fleeing the village, one by one until when the entire village was empty. We started hearing weirdsound of screams in the nearby villages, my mother and sister were too scared so fled with people but my father and I remained because my father was sure the rebels wouldn’t reach our village.
Like any other morning when my father and I were sited under a mango tree, we heard some voices of people approaching, we run in the house but it was too late since they had already seen us. They pulled both of us outside and they beheaded him.
Witnessing what had happened, I was told to sit down and they put my father’s head in my arms, I began trembling in fear of being raped or killed. They entered the house, robbed us and left me alone sitted with my father’s head.
I neither remember the day nor the time when I suddenly heard voices. A huge crowd was approaching; I thought to myself “are the rebels coming back?” I had not eaten and drunk in a long time. After witnessing my father’s death, I couldn’t see anything. In a dizzy way, I saw a woman lifting my father’s head from my arms, screaming and people were surrounding us.
When the war had been pushed too far from my village, my mother heard of a job in town, which required only girls to work as housemaids; I was given a job and it was during my stay in town that I met a man whom later I began to stay with. He was moved to western Uganda, a place called Kasese, where we lived for two years. It was there where I got my first pregnancy and gave birth to a healthy child. We decided to take the baby to my village for my mother to seehim.
Upon my arrival, I found out that my mother had died one month earlier, I busted into tears, and I hoped that she could had seen my child. I found my sister bedridden with HIV/AIDS, laying half-dead. I told myself, “Maybe if I had stayed home, nothing would have happened.”
When my sister died, we decided to return to Kasese. In 2002, we moved to Kampala and by then we had four children; my husband was working as a Boda Boda motorcyclist (carrying people on a motorcycle for a pay). The income wasn’t enough, so I tried all kinds of jobs but failed, and I became miserable, began working in stone quarries. Until one day when I passed by Meeting Point International, seeing very happy women sitting, making beads. I began admiring to be like them. Since some of them knew me from the quarry they invited me to stay with themat Meeting Point International (MPI), with the other women, with the promise that I would be happy.
When I joined MPI, my four children began attending school with the help of Aunt Rose – executive director. I began to feel at peace with myself so I continued working in the stone quarry happily.
After having seen what Meeting Point International was doing in educating me about my value , I discovered the value of my children, as a parent, I desired to participate in my children’s education by giving a small saving box to the school were my children are attending since it was very difficult for me to save at home. So that every morning, I could give my children the little I get from quarry to put in that box. In this way I can contribute to my children’s education. I started by giving at least 1000shillings.
Rose, 37 Years Old (MPI Women )
by Lumanyika Jude