You’ve once seen me as a street kid loitering in the streets of Gulu town. You’ve said things like I must go back to my parent’s house. You told me to go back to my community. But you are being dismissive. You don’t know my story.
I was ten years old, doing my daily chores in my family’s vegetable garden. I saw a field of men holding guns, I felt scared. Very scared. They swooped into my home and abducted me. A year later, i killed someone for the first time. They said it was between me and the other person. I did what i could to survive.
When i was 12 years old i lost something very sacred to me. A strong part of who i am. He took me and put his hands on me. Thrusting his body into mine, I felt the fragments of my essence of innocence threading apart. To justify his actions, he made me one of his wives – never showing love or sanctity of marriage, but only to use me for his sexual desires.
Unlike many others, i saw light at the end of this gruesome ordeal. I ran away into an army barracks and met with my sister. Seeing her for the first time in three years. Although it’s all over, I still feel the salted wounds seep deep into my soul. Dreams of what I was forced to do make me wake up to a pillow soaked in my own tears. I have no father, no mother to comfort me. No community to go back to. They shun on the actions i did – i carry the stigma of being a cold-blooded heartless barbarian because yes, I am a statistic. I was once a girl soldier.
This is a rewritten piece of a girl names Alice* in Uganda from Child Wars where she shares her life account of her kidnapping by Joseph Kony’s notorious Loard’s Resistance Army. A rebel force that once aimed at overthrowing Ugandan government and instilling Christianity’s ten commandments twenty-five years ago.
Although there are reports that there is a smaller band of LRA rebel forces in the DRC and Central African Republic, these children who suffered sexual violence and lost their innocence with blood on their hands are still trying, and failing to pick up pieces in their own life. Male and female former child soldiers across North Uganda yearn for healing in their psyche to be able to heal from atrocious ordeals, some of which they were forced into. However, international corporations such as invisible children and SOS Chidlren aid in rehabilitation programs and small camps – but this is not the only aid.
Uganda’s own people are seeking a tailored solution to alleviating child soldiers. Particularly recent Nobel Peace prize Nominated Victor Ochen, Director of African Youth initiative Network, aims at restoring health and psychological wellness and engaging communities in a transitional justice process, not forgetting an important aspect – empowering the youth in leadership skill training all in the name of building a peaceful and just society.
AYIN hosts and facilitates programs such as surgery and psychological rehabilitation to war victims, sexual reproductive health, youth leadership and development in conjunction with various regional and international organizations. To find more information about this particular organisation, visit their website.
*not her real name