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Question: Can we help bring peace to Northern Uganda CPNN article: How One Agency Is Trying to Bring Peace to Sudan
CPNN Administrator
Posted: July 05 2005,12:58

CPNN has received the following request:

Dear Brethren,

Greetings. I am looking for resources on "Reconciliation, Tolerance & Forgiveness"e.g. Videos & DVD's. Working in the 19 years war ravaged Northern Uganda, we're faced with situation which demands Reconciliation, Tolerance and forgiveness between former Lords Resistance Army rebel and returnees and Civilians in communities where they have been resettled. They continue to call them killers, and all sorts of names they can find. Though superficially they confess reconciliation & forgiveness, they still ridicule, abuse & insult them of their past atrocities. Through the Uganda Amnesty Law, over 15,000 rebels have surrendered and through the Amnesty Commission they have been resettled and there former villages with packages comprising of a Hoe, seeds, blanket, Mattress and US$ 150 start up-capital.

The Resources requested here will be used for community based mass education on Reconciliation, Tolerance & Forgiveness (RTF). The Lords Resistance Army Rebels have for the 19 years wrecked havoc on the people of Northern Uganda, displacing over 1.6 million people now living in IDP Camps, abducted over 20,000 Children according to UNICEF, maimed & killed thousands of innocent civilians and destroyed villages and property worth Millions of Dollars.


The journey to forgiveness

Josephine Ajara, now 21, was abducted by the LRA in 1996 as she and her family sat down to breakfast one morning.

"First, I was forced to raid IDP [internally displaced persons'] camps for food. After a few months, I was taken to Sudan and became a soldier. I had to participate in the war," she explained.

Ajara served as a private in Kony's army for four years until her escape in 2001.

"One day, Kony's spirit came over him and told him that 600 abductees would escape that day," she said. "Three others and I decided to run away that day. We were followed by 50 soldiers, who had been told to chop us up into little pieces should they find us."

The UN Children's Fund returned Ajara from Juba, southern Sudan, to her home district of Kitgum, where she was handed over to the Ugandan army, who brought her to a reception centre for former abductees and combatants. She was later taken to the Kitgum branch of the Amnesty Commission.

"In the bush, we had heard about the amnesty, but Kony told us it was a lie and just a method of killing us when we came out," she said. "We were told we would be killed with a slow poison when we came out - for months I was very careful about what I ate, fearing the government was trying to poison me."

Ajara received her resettlement package and opened a kiosk in Kitgum town with the money. She planted crops and now sells food to her neighbours in Labuje IDP camp, where she found her family upon her return.

At Labuje, she was taken through "mato oput", a traditional Acholi justice ritual in which she accepted responsibility for her crimes and her family made reparations to the families of those she had harmed during her time as part of the rebellion. Afterwards, she was reintegrated into her community.

However, Ajara said, most people had not really forgiven her. She has a three-month-old child whose father refused to marry her on the grounds that she had participated in the rebellion.

"Many people still think of me as a killer, and it is difficult for them to accept me back into the community," she observed. "When the men get drunk, they even begrudge me the money I was given by the commission, saying their own innocent children have nothing while I, a killer, got government support."

Despite the horrors she was subjected to in the bush, Ajara said she firmly believed that Kony should be forgiven if he surrendered because it was "the only way for us to get peace." You may visit our website to learn more about the 19 years Northern Uganda conflict at www.aymu.org


Albert Kunihira

Country Director and Peace Ambassador

Africa Youth Ministries
P.O. Box 20029,
Kampala, Uganda
T: +256-71-200009/77-200902/39-200009
F: +256-41-287151
E: Albert@aymu.org or admin@aymu.org
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