Here in northern Uganda, there is a man whose horrific fame has reached around the world. He is among the most barbarous monsters ever to have lived, and his atrocities against the people of this region, and especially children, stagger any logical human mind. His name is Joseph Kony.
Today we learned from two people whose lives he has affected. His name evokes terror among anyone in this region, and now in other neighboring countries. He has gone into hiding and uses his invisible children as human shields. The 29 minute video linked here is sobering.
We noticed the painting shown above inside Mary’s home today. She essentially told this story:
That man has affected every family in northern Uganda. There is no one in Gulu who has not been changed. The war he caused lasted over 20 years, and it is only recently that he has moved on.
The painting depicts his army burning the village and stealing children. The murdering and disfiguring and abuse is indescribable.
In 2008 his army came through here for a second time. They were abducting children just here (points to the village next door) and one of the soldiers demanded 500,000 schillings from a child. She pointed to our home and said they could get it here, but that our door was very strong.
They came to the house while we were inside. They tried to get in but could not. Finally, they shot holes in the back wall and door. The sound was so terrifying as we hid inside. Eventually they went away, taking the abducted children from the village with them.
Then Vincent, who was with us, added his own account.
I remember when his army came to my village. I was 8 years old and every mother was screaming and trying to run and save her children. My mother was running with us kids and I got separated in the dark. I was running through the village in the dark and crying mommy, mommy! but so were all the other children. It was crazy.
Then I fell into a new latrine hole which was 20 feet deep. I didn’t know it was there. I was in the bottom crying and crying, but then I realized I must be quiet or they would get me. Somehow, I fell asleep in that hole.
The next morning, I could hear people coming back into the village so I yelled for help. They helped me out and my Mom was so grateful. She was so worried that I had been taken by the army. It was a very scary time.
Since being in Gulu we have heard many first-hand stories from people who have been abandoned or abused. We have teared-up many times as we have learned of the terribly sad lives these people live. To find a complete family with a father and mother and children where there has been no death is extremely rare.
While our website is dedicated to the happiest faces on earth, it is also important to not ignore the challenges for they are what makes the happiness so much the sweeter. As we visited with our two friends today, we were struck not only with their tragic stories, but also with the number of times they laughed during our visit. They are truly idomitable.