Homepage of Archdiocese of Gulu

 

SEPTEMBER 2005, VOL7-NO.9

 

JUSTICE AND PEACE NEWS

Newsletter of Justice And Peace Commission of Gulu Archdiocese

 

“If you want peace, work for justice”

 

  1. Editorial
  2. JPC facelifts former LRA
  3. Mato Oput
  4. Message to LRA
  5. Ajumani 1-2
  6. YCS
  7. Malnutrition
  8. Chronology
  9. UPDF
  10. Poem
  11. Servants

 

 

EDITORIAL

 

DEATH IN DISPLACED CAMPS MUST STOP

 

One thousand internally displaced persons die every week in Acholi. On average, there are 1.54 deaths per 10,000 per day. The shocking fact is the conclusion of a survey conducted by the Ugandan Government, UN agencies and NGOs. One of the chilling conclusions is that most of the dead are children, who are dying of malaria, diarrohoea, HIV/AIDS and violence. Given the appalling conditions of lack of hygiene, unsufficient feeding and poor health services, the conclusions come as little surprise.

 

As the intensity of rebel violence appears to be scaling down, (see our recent chronology in this issue), other worrying factors are coming up. For instance, only during August this year six civilians have been shot dead by UPDF soldiers in displaced camps. In many cases the culprits get total impunity while people wonder why some of the very people who are in charge of protecting them become a threat to their lives.

 

Diseases, depression and desperation are also preying on the IDPs. On top of that, cultural and family values have collapsed. Because of all this, displaced camps are becoming places where death reigns.

 

An urgent solution is needed. The death rate in displaced camps in Northern Uganda is unacceptably high. In the last term, people need to be helped to be resettled in their original homes with enough security provisions. The Government needs to come up with a resettlement plan. The earlier this is done, the more human lives will be saved.

 

JPC facelifts former LRA rebels

 

Many of them believed their lives are ruined. They were abducted from their villages, brutalised and brainwashed. Forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves. Forced to commit atrocities against their own people. Some could also be shot, raped or beaten by government soldiers. On their release, or escape, they are stigmatised as ex-LRA rebels and harshly treated by some people in the society. Their lives were miserable. They could not fit well in the community. No income to buy basic necessities, no job to earn a living. Many saw it as a curse by God.

 

But all the belief is coming to an end when a few of the returnees, most of them former commanders thought hard and came up with an idea of starting something to earn them a living. The result is the formation of two successful Community Based Organisations owned and run by the returnees themselves with the help of Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of the Archdiocese of Gulu. Other organisations such as World Vision, Northern Uganda Social Action Fund, CARITAS and Acholi Religious leaders’ Peace Initiative have also given assistance to them. The CBOs are KICABER (An Acholi ward meaning its good to be merciful) and Information for Youth Empowerment Project (IYEP).

 

The idea to form KICABER support to war victims was hatched by two brothers. Both were abducted at the same time by the LRA rebels. On return from captivity two years later, George Ocaka Asisi, now the General Secretary of the organisation told his brother that they should start an income generating activity. Ocaka had already got a job with Concern Parents’ Association as data collector. The work made him well known among the returnees. He used his popularity to mobilise them and brought them under an umbrella organisation of KICABER.

 

Their first priorities were starting a bakery, carpentry and joinery and training in tailoring. The returnees were given freedom to join activities of their choice. And now, the organisation that began by few people, has 78 members. All the activities are being sponsored by JPC. Over 1.97 million has been given towards them. JPC also pays for the children of returnees in nursery and primary schools. Few others in secondary and technical schools are also benefiting from the JPC funds.

 

Their lives are not the same again. They can now afford food and other basic necessities in life. The money is got from the bakery, carpentry and tailoring work. When chairs, tables and bread they make are bought, the profits are divided among the members. They use some of the money for paying tuition for their children and other returnees in addition to what JPC pays at schools. JPC also buys uniform and shoes for the kids. 64 kids in nursery and primary schools are currently benefiting from JPC funds. It has donated bicycles for KICABER members. Apart from donation, JPC and CARITAS staff offer counselling services to the returnees.

Although JPC is trying its best to assist these returnees, its hands are tied by the meager resources. The numbers of returnees who need assistance are overwhelming. All are in school going age but majority are at home. Many are taking care of the children of rebel commanders. They were rescued; others escaped with these children, some with their mothers. Some of these children are rejected by their relatives and they live with the returnees. The problem is now how to feed them and pay their school fees.

Yet the income generating activities the returnees are undertaking do not bring enough money. There is a lot of competition in town and they resort to taking their bread to camps for displaced persons (IDPs). But the IDPs are even poor; they look at the bread as things for the rich.

KICABER’s problem is also how to transport their bread. The bicycles given by JPC cannot carry many.  Some bread even get spoil before taken to their customers. This has affected their daily output, which is only 130 made per day. They however aim at producing over 200 pieces of bread once they get faster means of transport to the market. Those engaged in carpentry complain of lack of tools and workshop. They work under trees in Kabedo Opong, a town suburb north of the town center.

Despite all these problems, the returnees are aiming higher. Apart from the current activities, they plan a poultry project.  Their prayer is that Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF) comes to their rescue with revolving loan. According to Ocaka, they have already applied to NUSAF for loan. All that they want is to raise income that enable them pay their school fees, and that of their children. “We shall be greatful for anybody out there who can give us revolving loan.  It will help our colleagues who are redundant at home to return to school or undertake skills training,” said Ocaka. The man in his 20s, was abducted in 1995 and returned in 1997. Now he is waiting to join Gulu University this September. Unlike Ocaka, the vice secretary of KICABER Agustus Okwanga’s story is different. He is willing to go back to school but responsibility cannot allow him. He was abducted with two of his brothers in 1997 and he escaped in 1990. One of his brothers was killed by the LRA as he sees. The other was killed during fighting. He is now taking care of nine children, five belong to his late brothers and four are his own. He uses dividend from bakery to their school fess.

The bakery is also benefiting a student from Lacor minor seminary who is an orphan.  He was among the 44 seminarians abducted in 2002. He is among the few released. After returning from captivity, he found both parents killed by the LRA rebels in Opit, Omoro County. Every holiday, he goes to work with other returnees in the bakery.  “He uses the little profit we share to pay his tuition. But sometimes the money delays and he is time and again sent home for defaulting,” said Ocaka.

Two students from Gulu Universal Standard S.S are also benefiting from KICABER. One of the students, his father was shot dead in Lacor by the UPDF soldiers in 1998 for claim that he was a rebel collaborator.  KICABER also offers counseling services to other returnees.

 

KICABER is not the only Community Based organization (CBO) being supported by JPC. There is also Information for Youth Empowerment project for Peace Building and Reconciliation (IYEP). People formerly abducted by rebels started it in 2004. But now they have absorbed other people also. “Because not only those who were abducted are traumatized in Acholiland,” said IYEP Chairman Moses Rubangangeyo.

It was started basically for peace building. The founder members were trained by JPC in peace building and reconciliation. They then used the skills to mobilize and sensitize other returnees in the district. The moved in camps for IDPs asking for forgiveness for what they were forced to do when in the bush. “People in the IDP camps supported us and advised us to take a lead in peace building,” said Rubangangeyo.

In April, they trained 30 returnees from Gulu municipality in peace building and reconciliation. From May to July, their activities, which were facilitated by JPC and staff of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, were in the camps. According to them, it is good for the returnees to talk to their fellow returnees in the community about peace building.

Some of their activities are also performing drama and cultural dances in the camps for IDPs as part of the peace building and HIV awareness campaign. They also tracing relatives of children born in captivity that they returned with. Some, their fathers and mothers died while fighting. They know their parents because they worked with them when they were in the bush. They have already registered 548 returnees, among them child mothers. And over 250 children ages between 3 to 12 years. All the children want to go to school but luck school fees. JPC is paying 35 of them in nursery, primary and some few in secondary and vocational institutions. What is the fate of the rest? Is a question for well-wishers to thing about.

Most of the returnees who are at schools are performing well. The ones that this reporter talked to are bright and leading in class work. They are very sharp and understand instantly. Some are student leaders in their schools. For instance, Rubangangeyo is an UNSA secretary in his school and Jimmy Akena Nyanzi was an UNSA representative in the district. But their wary is reaching the University level. They fear they may drop out of school for lack of tuition.

JPC is doing its part in rehabilitating the lives of former abducted children through education and income generating activities. If all NGOs could help in educating these returnees, their lives will be different in future. What worry people is, what will be the future of these returnees in ten to twenty years time if they are not educated? Won’t it bring more conflict and feeling of betrayal by the society? Let people come out and save the future of Acholi’s young generation.

 

Mato-Oput

 

In August 1st, people of Pabo, Kilak County witnessed a reconciliation ceremony comonly known in Acholi as mato oput. It demonstrated that the traditional approach to justice could bring peace in the sub-region.

In Acholi, the reconciliation (mato oput) ceremony is done between the wrong doer and those he/she has harmed. It is the method, majority of Acholi are emphasising together with amnesty and forgiveness as the only means that will bring everlasting peace in the region now ravaged by the twenty-year war.

That is why there has been an outcry when the International Criminal Court (ICC) was invited by the government of Uganda to investigate the Lord’s Resistant Army (LRA) rebels with the aim of prosecuting them for the crime against humanity.

From the point of view of the Acholi who are already promoting amnesty and forgiveness, the involvement of the ICC represented a serious threat. It was seen as an addition incentive for LRA to keep fighting. Many also viewed it as spoiling the peace process by undermining the amnesty and ceasefire that existed. Most of all, it was seen as ignoring and disempowering local justice procedure.

For the Acholi and even most Luo speakers, their approach to justice is based on the special capacity to forgive. The local understanding of justice is based upon the reintergration of offending people into society. That means, in Acholi culture, there is no death sentence because they know that death sentence increase violence. That is why it’s emphasised that the best way to ending this 20-year war is through peace talks and reconciliation.

As seen in Pabo, mato oput can end conflict, bring justice and peace. The Pabo conflict that started in 1991 ended this year at the ceremony that was performed by the traditional chiefs. There was laughter, shaking of hands and the victims and the offender swore never to hate themselves again.

All started by reconciling the two clans that were ever in bitterness for the death of a member of one clan caused by the other. Agustino Banya killed his mother Christine Aceng in 1991. It all began when Aceng sent her son Banya to buy for her local gin (arege). She followed Banya after he took long to return. They however, met on the way. An exchange of bitter ward started between them. All of them were already drunk. Banya claims Aceng referred to him as a bastard. It’s true that Banya’s mother divorced his father when he was still young and now she is married to another man. On reaching home, Banya kicked his old mum once and she was dead forever.

Banya was arrested by the police, serve his sentence and was released. But because the bitterness people had on him and the memory of his action could not be erased by the court action, traditional justice had to be performed.

Gaya-Paomo clan therefore represented Banya and odre clan was for the late Aceng. Pabo traditional chief Jacheo Acaye presided over the ceremony. The two clans met on the way, a place far away from homestead. Each clan had a sheep, white cock and a local drink called angaci, made of millet flour. “Today will mark the end of hatred, and bitterness that existed between these clans. Prepare to reconcile, forgive and forget all the pass,” Acaye told elders who came for the ceremony.

The sheep were stabbed and beheaded. Their blood let to flow on the ground reflecting washing away of all the bad deeds that had happened between the two clans. The sheep were exchanged to show the sign of sharing between the two clans before they were cut into pieces for cooking. After about 3 hours, the meat was ready for eating. Banya who killed his mother was paired with his “father.’ They bent on their knees with their hands behind on the back as they drink angaci. Each of them sipped 3 times. The 4th ones, they spat it on the ground. They got up, shook their hands and swore never to hate each other again. The crowd full of elders cheered. Food was distributed and elders sat in the middle of the road as they ate. And there was peace between the two clans without the use of force.

It should therefore be noted that Acholi people have their own approach to justice; it’s an established truth. That is why the military means to ending the northern conflict has been vehemently opposed. Instead, the amnesty has been embraced and seen as compatible with Acholi dispute resolution mechanism: the believe that the bitterness of revenge (military option) does not solve problems.

 

 

 

  

 

 

 Message to the LRA

 

The following is the message to the leadership of the LRA from the governments of Netherlands, Norway, UK and USA at the beginning of August. As you are aware, we are since November last year providing support to the efforts led by Mrs. Betty Bigombe to initiate talks between you and the government of Uganda. During this period, important discussion and meetings took place bringing real hope that peace may be realised so that the suffering of the people of northern Uganda may end. We still support this effort, but this is a window of opportunity that may be closing rapidly. We are in discussion with the Ugandan government about the peace effort but we would also want to impress upon you that it’s absolutely vital that you establish contact so that opportunity for peace talks is not loss. Your concern is and can be issued for discussion, but it’s impossible to do this if you do not re-establish contacts. In case it is not possible to re-establish contacts through any of the usual means, a listening watch is being maintained on radio frequency 6435 on lower side band, (6435 KHZ). If you call, station Golf Base on this frequency between 8 am and 10 am, Monday to Saturday, a United Nation radio operator will answer your call and put you in contact with Mrs. Betty Bigombe.

 

Adjumani faces poverty

 

Adjumani, the district that has also suffered in the brutal hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, now faces the problem of hunger again. This time, the cause is bad weather. It has led to starvation in the district.

The officer in charge of Justice and Peace Commission in Adjumani Ms. Angela Kaba says there is a lot of drought. According to her, maize, groundnuts, sweet potatoes and other crops planted this year did not yield. They were burnt by severe heat. People in the district are however, waiting for the second season of the rain but they are disappointed that it is not coming.

The problem has led to general poverty because even the businessmen are complaining that their goods are not being bought. Farmers who used to sell their crops and use the money to buy other essential requirement from the shops are now poverty stricken. There is no good harvest from the first planting season.

Adjumani women however, are not sitting there watching their children die of hunger. They have taken up trade as an income generating activities. They go to Arua, Pabo in Gulu and Masindi among other places to do business. Most of them sell and buy produce. Banks from Arua and Adjumani have also come in to uplift the women of Adjumani in trade. They offer low interest loan to them. The banks included Centenary Rural Development Bank Arua branch, Microfinance and FINCA. The women have also initiated a rotational credit scheme among themselves. It helps them raise funds that they use to feed their families.

Angela Kaba has also cited HIV Aid as a threat to the people of Adjumani. She blamed the spread on youth whom she described as being unruly and careless despite numerous talks about the danger of the disease. Other diseases such as diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition are also threatening the district.

Poverty has now led to serious cases of domestic violence. Most people talked to in Adjumani say resort to drinking and on going home they turn their hanger of poverty to their women. When their women ask them to give part of the money they use for drinking for buying food, the answer is battering. Youth on the other hand resorting to suicide because they see life as being useless.

Adjumani is also doing bad in education sector. According to Angela Kaba, Adjumani was among the districts that performed poorly in last years national examinations for primary seven, senior four and six.  She blames the poor performance on the number of pupils and students that are too many for teachers to manage. Teachers could not also concentrate because they have been complaining of poor pay.

Problem of insecurity caused by the LRA rebels has also made most people bordering Gulu district left their areas. People living in Aringapi, Agirinya and Bibia areas have been displaced. Most of them are camped in Dufile division in west Moyo. Some have settled among their relatives in Adjumani. The whole of Palaro in Pakele sub-county, Afua County has also been evacuated. Ciforo is the only sub-County have camps for the displaced persons. The IDPs have settled around schools in Maaji Parish. Maaji borders Joka forests, the area; the LRA rebels frequently hide in.

 

Adjumai to host 2006 Provinccial Peace Day

 

Provincial Peace Day celebration is being organized to take place in Adjumani district. Justice and Peace Commission Gulu Archdiocese is organizing the celebration.

The idea of the Provincial Peace day started in June this year when Gulu Archdiocese communicated to Arua diocese and Adjumani Parish about it. Gulu Archdiocese decided that Adjumani should host the occasion. It should be noted that all the dioceses in northern Uganda operate under Ecclesiastical Province of Gulu Archdiocese. The Province is concern about the problem in Adjumani and through the Archdiocese, Arua diocese and Adjumani Parish in particular was advised to create a Peace Day. The day is slated to for the third and fourth of January 2006.

 

The Peace day is to heal the wounds of what has happened in the province since 1970s to date, to have reconciliation and forgiveness. The purpose is also to consolidate peace and have unity in the province. More so is to have solidarity with the people of Adjumani who also suffered as well as other areas in the brutal hands of the LRA rebels.

 

People to participate in the Peace day will come from all the dioceses/districts in the northern Province. Those from other Provinces such as Central, Eastern and Western Uganda are to be invited including the dioceses of Juba, Torit and Yei in southern Sudan.

Nine committees have been set up in Adjumani to take the lead in the organisation of the occasion. The chairpersons and the committee members are people based in Adjumani. His Eminent Cardinal Emmanuel Wamala is expected to be the guest of honour.

 

Hoima YCS wants peace in the north.

 

 Crafting a viable peace is the work of many hands, involving different people and sectors of the society and spanning generations. The degree of involvement, at what stage and in what capacity may not matter. This is what Teachers and students from Sir Tito Owiny Secondary School in Hoima district are doing.

Mr. Jackson Baliija and Ben Cairns of the MCC led a delegation of 43 YCS student to Gulu. Their main reason for the coming was to learn what students in Gulu district are doing to bring peace in the war ravaged sub-region. Their visit was also to have solidarity with students in Gulu who have suffered a lot in the brutal hands of the LRA rebels. They also wanted to make friendship across ethnic regions.

They call for speedy end of the conflict peacefully. “The idea of gunship will not end this conflict in short time,” they said. Students resolved there and then to start a peace club and use it to advocate for peace in northern Uganda. They plan to start grass root advocacy in Hoima district in order to lobby for a peaceful means to ending the war in the north. They said the visit was an eye opener about the problem in Acholi. “We had mixed vision of Gulu, we did not know much. After our visit to the camps for the displaced persons, we realized that people in Acholi are suffering and living in dehumanising conditions,” they observed.

They want something be done to end the war quickly because the living conditions in IDP camps are not good for growing children. They also noted that living in packed camps with children is a source of promiscuity and a good breeding ground for HIV/Aids spread. According to their findings, there is a lot of domestic violence in the camps. Men on the other hand resort to drinking because of frustrations and idleness.

Most student interviewed however had positive views of the Acholi. Majority want to come back and study in Acholiland. According to them, northern Uganda is serious with education. “Because performances are good inspite of war. The number of schools are also more than Hoima,” they noted. They praised Gulu Archdiocese for encouraging youth to study hard and love one another. They described youths in Acholi as loving and said they were warmly welcomed.

Many people including students from around Uganda and the world do not understand the LRA war which some people has described as the war by children against children. Many people still think that Acholi are warmongers. The decentralization of systems has made students these days start nursery in their districts and complete University education in the same districts. They do not know what happens in their country. They are stereo typed, and live by history.

In the north, students study with difficulty yet they are supposed to sit the same exams with students in the peaceful areas. The 20-year civil war between the insurgent LRA and the government forces (UPDF) has left northern Uganda in ruins.

Over 1.5 million people are living in squalid IDP camps. Thousands more have been killed, education and health care are disrupted and the culture of the Acholi is in danger of being lost forever.

Children have suffered the most. Abducted from their villages, brutalized and brainwashed. Forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves. Forced to commit atrocities against their own people. Some are also harassed by the government soldiers. On their release or escape, they are stigmatised as ex-LRA rebels and harshly treated by a society that often seeks vengeance.

 

 

Malnutrition

 

The number of hungry children in Africa could increase by 3.3 million by 2025 if current policies remain in place, a new report has warned.

The number of malnourished people in sub-sahara Africa has soared from 88 million in 1970 to 200 million in 1999-2001, the research found.

The overall percentage of malnourished Africans has remained constant over the past 30 years, at about 35 percent.

The report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) predicts that the millennium Development Goal to halve child malnutrition in Africa by 2015 will fail unless more radical steps are taken now. It says the number of malnourished children could grow from 38.6 million now to 41.9 million by 2025.

Indirect causes of malnutrition include poor governance, lack of investment in Agriculture, inadequate infrastructure and limited access to markets.

Building roads and boosting the information and communication technology sectors would have a positive impact too because it would improve productivity and create new markets, the report said.

 

CHRONOLOGY

July

30th – John Garang, the first Vice President and President of Southern Sudan died in a helicopter crash. He was travelling aboard a Ugandan Presidential helicopter to New Site in Southern Sudan when the plane crashed reportedly due to bad weather.

 

August

 

3rd – Gunmen believed to be UPDF soldiers shot dead Alphonse Okello, a shoe shiner in Bobi, Omoro County as he was walking back to his home at the night.

 

3rd – UPDF soldiers said they have killed 4 LRA rebels in Padibe, Pader district.

 

3rd – The army reported that they have killed 4 more LRA rebels in a battle near Lacic Hills in Kitgum district. 3 guns reported to have been recovered in the battle.

 

4th – LRA rebels abducted three young girls they found uprooting groundnuts at Panokrac Parish, Amuru subCounty.

 

6th – Two people were killed by LRA rebels in Lacer, Olwal, Kilak County. They were identified as Owak Binoni and Ajok Dolica. They were found by rebels in the garden weeding their crops.

 

6th – A 14-year old girl escape from the LRA rebels in Atiak Sub-county and reported to the UPDF detach in the area.

 

6th – 3 people were killed by unidentified gunmen at Olwak, Kilak County. Benon Owak and his wife betty Owak and John Obita were killed while working in their gardens.

 

7th – The army in Pader said it killed one LRA commander Maj. Odongo Murefu and his two body guards.

 

8th – Karimojong warriors killed 6 UPDF soldiers in Lotome, Moroto District.

 

UPDF soldiers from Delta battalion rescued 3 children from LRA rebels in Minakulu.

 

11th – LRA 2nd Lt Patrick Okema surrendered to the UPDF in Omoro County.

 

11th – 7 people were killed by the LRA rebels in the ambush at Lua, Nimule in southern Sudan.

 

11th – LRA rebels abducted a man from Minakulu subCounty, plucked off his eyes and killed him at Opobo forests.

 

12th – UPDF soldiers shot to death an LRA commander only identified as Lobul in Okidi-Lamola, Kitgum district. One machinegun reported to have been recovered from him.

 

13th - A UPDF soldier shot dead Ben Oketa and his wife Monica Ajok as they worked in their garden in Olwal IDP camp, Kilak County.

 

14th – 5 LRA rebels surrendered to the UPDF soldiers in Palenga detach, Bobi subCounty.

 

15th – Pte. Patrick Ojok, a UPDF soldier shot dead Lawrence Odong, a 7-year old pupil of St. Mauritz primary school in Gulu town suburb. The police arrested him.

 

16th – UPDF soldier attached to 1st battalion in Pader shot dead the LC1 chairman of Anyango village in Omot, Agago County. Pte. Dennis Mandela is said to have shot Tony Walter Oloya after a quarrel over a woman.

 

16th – The army said it has killed 13 LRA rebels in two separate helicopter gunship raids in Atiki, southern Sudan.

 

17th – The army said it has killed 20 LRA rebels that were being commanded by Otti Vincent. It said the UPDF helicopter gunship hit them at Kit valley in Sudan bringing the total number of rebels killed in 3 days to 45.

 

19th – UPDF soldiers shot dead Patrick Kinyera from Palenga IDP camp.

 

22nd – Former LRA spokesman Dominic Wanyama died in Nairobi, Kenya after a long illness. He was buried at his ancestral home in Masafu, Busia.

 

23rd – A preliminary analysis of a Government and UN report said that one thousand IDPs were dying every week in Acholi

 

- Gulu district health officials have announced that the rate of tuberculosis (TB) is the district is very high with an average of 150 cases registered in only a month. TB & leprosy supervisor John Opwonya attributed the high rate of infection to overcrowding in the IDP camps. He estimated that about 50% to 60% of the patients are HIV positive.

25th Five people were killed in an ambush of LRA rebels near Kwon kic and Acol Pii.

29th A UPDF soldier shot a civil lain dead in the lodge at Pader District.

 

UPDF soldier kills pupil

A Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) soldier has shot dead a P3 pupil of St. Mauritz Primary school. The incident happened on August 15th at St. Mauritz parish, north west of Gulu town. Lawrence Odong was shot at three times and he died instantly.

According to the mother Juliana Ato, the soldier, only identified as Ojok came home at 11 am in the mourning and got her sited in the compound. He asked for the Okello Ocii, the brother of the late. “He greeted me and asked for where about of Ocii. I told him I did not know where he was,” said Ato. Ojok went but came back within few hours and asked for Ocii again. Ocii was by then around. He met Ojok who sent him to bring for him drinking water. At that time, Ojok was in the company of Odong sitting inside uncompleted building charting. He had a gun. When Ocii reached his mothers house to fetch water, he heard a gun shot. He run back, found Odong lying on a pool of blood while crying. Within short time, he died. He had three bullet wounds at the back, waist and legs. The legs were shuttered. Ojok however fled towards Lawi Adul army detach. He was later arrested by the police.

Ocii said he studied with Ojok in St. Mausitz Primary school. They are even good friends. But he could not know why Ojok had to kill his younger brother. He however revealed that Ojok had been disturbing him that he should join the army and work with him. But he could always tell him he is still young and would like to continue with studies. Ocii is a primary six pupil.

Juliana Ato however is a sick old woman. She had just been discharged from St. mary’s hospital Lacor. It was Odong who used to help her fetch water from the borehole. He is her last born and the only child who used to even cook for her and do all other household work. Her husband died in 2004.

 

Poem

 

WAR, THE DISTROYER  

 

War in Northern Uganda,

The open gateway to all disasters of children

Your conditions are harsh and unbearable

Forcing many to live in camps under harsh means of survival with no food or water but a lot of epidemic diseases letting down our population

 

War in Northern Uganda,

We grow up without the dear love and care of our parents just because of war

We are born in the buses with no hope for the future; we are raped, defiled and tortured in all possible ways

 

War in Northern Uganda,

We are made child soldiers with nothing but sounds of gun shorts ever around us.

Killing is the order of the day in our lives.

 

War in Northern Uganda,

When will the war end? We need peace in Northern Uganda

We always long for peace oh!!!

When will we taste the sweet fruits of peace?

 

War in Northern Uganda,

Dear Ugandans, lets all join hands and fight this war that is eating up our country

We believe that two heads work better than one

So by uniting together, we can fight this war.

 

However, we appreciate the efforts of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative who have always worked with a lot of zeal for peace in Northern Uganda.

Long live Acholi Religious Leaders.

By Lacaa Everlyn

Sacred Heart s.s.s

Gulu.

 

 

 

WHERE IS PEACE

 

Peace, Peace, Peace

Oh! Peace, where are you?

Where can we find you peace?

We look for you day and night but still you are nowhere to be found.

 

Peace, Peace, Peace

Oh! Peace, when shall we see your fruits in our land?

People are running from place to place looking for only you peace but still you have turned a deaf ear to us.

 

Peace, Peace, Peace

Oh! Peace, the source of joy and happiness.

Children, the youths and even the old ones are ready with their hands wide open ready to receive you peace.

 

Fellow Ugandans,

Let us join our hands together in order to attain peace in our land.

And above all let us give peace a chance in order to eradicate poverty and violence from our country.

 

FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY

 

Written by

Adong Gladys, S.3

Sacred Heart s.s.s

Gulu.

4 men given for the suffering of Acholi

 

Acholiland has been in the situation of war but God does not get tired of His people. Even if some people want to block it, God’s love penetrates through the evil, the Archbishop John Baptist Odama said. August 1st 2005 was the example of God’s love by giving four men to help in serving His suffering people. They were ordained into Deaconhood. They hailed from three parishes out of 23 in the Archdiocese.

It should be noted that the religious leaders have played a great role in peace building, material assistance to the displaced persons, spiritual guidance and protecting the lives of over one million people displaced by the war in northern Uganda. Some parts in northern Uganda were and are seen as a ‘stateless’ region. Rebels abduct people freely and willingly. People have nowhere to run but to the religious institutions.  Churches, schools, hospitals and Catholic missions are the places where people seek protection.

Religious leaders give a lot of support to the returnees and those maimed by land mines or bombshells. Exchange visits have been organised many times to the suffering communities neighbouring Acholi to build confidence and trust between them and the Acholi. A number of dialogue and mediation services have been done between the LRA and the government of Uganda.

Odama urged people to recognised the deacons as disciples who came to serve but not to be served.  He advised the deacons to serve God and His people generously. And that they should be above every suspicion or claim. Never to turn away from hope that the Gospel offers. They should express in action what they proclaim by word of mouth. “Belief what you read from the bible, teach what you belief and practice what you teach,” Odama told the deacons. The deacons are Christopher Komakech, Benansio Okidi, Santo Onen and William Ochora.

There are 179 seminarians who are Acholi. 44 of them are in the major seminary and 135 in minor seminary. Sixteen minor seminarians are still in rebel captivity. They were abducted in May 2002. Odama urged the rebels to bring back the seminarians who are still in their hands. “They are God’s Shepard, he wants them,” he added. There are over 722,000 Acholi who are Catholic.