Yesterday we flew to Gulu, Uganda – a town in the northern Uganda. This town was in the middle of the civil war for twenty years. The LRA would abduct children – boys to be soldiers and girls to be “wives” so the children in the villages would travel to Gulu at night and sleep anywhere they could – shop verandas, bus stations, anywhere. The idea was that they could be better protected from the rebels if they were in town rather than in their villages with their families. Peace talks are still underway, but the abductions have stopped. For a little over a year they have had relative peace in this area.
The fighting has stopped, but the healing is just beginning. Because of the war, many people are misplaced and live in camps called IDP camps – Internally Displaced People. These camps are basically slums where children are everywhere. The government is encouraging these people to go “home” to their villages, but many don’t know where that is because they have been in the bush so long. The female children who were abducted as “wives” now have multiple children whose fathers are members of the rebels. Their villages do not want them back with those children. It’s a really rough situation.
The hope is that KPC has begun their church campus here. They started in March and already have 1000 people on Sundays and 17 cells. They need more cells, but need to train up more leaders first. We were greeted by Pastor Joseph and he toured us around Gulu. We enjoyed spending time with him. He has quite a task in front of him, but he is full of faith and knows that through partnership with others God can do anything!
We saw a vocational school where they are teaching these child mothers who have been released from the rebels to sew so they can earn money to support their children. The average age at this school is 15 and some have more than one child. Right now there are so many students they must rotate the classes – and there are more young girls coming out of the bush everyday. What precious people to reach out and help these young girls! Watoto plans to partner with this school to continue helping these young mothers. Some of them may become Watoto mums one day.
The need is great – but God is so much bigger. We had quite a full day, so I’ll have to post more later. Also, check back for pictures later. We are about to start our long travel home.