Young girls in northern Uganda face incredible barriers attending school due to the conflict in the region. Photo Credit: Project Trust, October 2009.
The following post was submitted to the WPSN-C by Angela Atim Lakor, a young woman and peace-builder from Northern Uganda who has been working in collaboration with our member organization, Children/Youth as Peacebuilders (CAP). She will be in attendance at the Global Summit and will be delivering a presentation about her experiences being abducted and held by the Lord’s Resistance Army, her escape after eight years in captivity and the work she does fighting for the rights of female returnees and children born in LRA captivity.
“Our organization is called Watye Ki Gen – this is Acholi for “We have hope.”
Watye Ki Gen is a membership group – we are all formerly abducted females. We came together to develop a collective portrait of our experiences in the bush – called The LRA Forced Wife System. Then we decided we wanted to continue to work together and focus on children born in captivity.
We decided to work together because of what the children are experiencing.
When girls and women came back from the bush there were some people who were helping them with vocational skills and other programs. But no one came for the children who were born in captivity. This was needed because some of them have been psychologically broken, especially those who came back when they were six and above. They know what happened in the bush and they still have that memory that keeps them fearful. There is also the stigma against them; the children are often not welcomed in the school or with their neighbours. So the children were asking, “Why do people do this to us? Why do they hate us?”
They also have problems in their families: they often are not accepted. Some of the children really want to know where they come from, about their fathers. For many mothers this is difficult, they don’t want there to be any connection to that biological father. But the children want to know – some will say, “I know that my father maybe died but I still want to know his family. However many bad things he did, he is still my father.”
At the start it was difficult. In the bush there were levels of wives and some of them mistreated others so much so there were a lot of bad memories and feelings amongst the women. Then when we started Watye Ki Gen we were working together, putting that history behind us. But that wasn’t easy to do.