some of their stories
At the Trust we think in terms of families rather than individuals. Acholi (main ethnic group in Northern Uganda) is a society of attachments and responsibilities, so even when people have lost the support of their wider family there are still likely to be others who are dependent on them. A number of our beneficiaries are young widows or women who have been abandoned by their husbands, attempting to care for multiple children – their own, and sometimes siblings and other orphans in the family.
A number of those affected by the war experience psychological difficulties and alcohol addiction. These issues can make it difficult for them to sustain relationships. Helping them and their partners work through marital difficulties instead of separating, and supporting a family to gain skills or set up businesses so that there is more than one breadwinner, can have enormous benefits
Caroline, now 35 years old, was abducted at the age of 13 by the LRA and forced to become a ‘wife’ to one of the five LRA commanders subsequently indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. She escaped after eight years in captivity with her children.
Caroline and her children still experience severe symptoms of trauma, and the youngest is epileptic. The Trust has supported the whole family with counselling and financial help: this has provided for medical care and the primary and secondary education fees for her three children.
Grace’s second child was born with hydrocephalus, which prompted her husband to desert them.
Her in-laws, with whom she was still living, were hostile, her hut was falling down, and she and the children went hungry as her husband had taken most of the food she had grown. Grace wanted to move to her uncle’s place, where she had grown up, but the necessary negotiations over customary separation procedures were lengthy and expensive.
We supported her financially and emotionally through this, with a small business grant to help her establish herself in her new home; we also provide ongoing help with the medical costs for her disabled child.
Lucy came to us in 2016. She is blind and in her 70s, and was looking after 3 grandsons (we think they are actually her great-grandsons) aged between 6 and 8 who had been sent to her when their parents died.
They were not in school and were in fact supporting the old
lady by collecting water for the neighbours for tiny amounts of money. We are now sending the boys to a primary school, where at least they are fed during term-time, and supporting
the family in small ways.
Mary is effectively running a small orphanage of informal adoptees, some of whom were born in the bush, all victims of some aspect of the war.
Some of these eleven children are now grown up, and we are sponsoring some in further education, and others in small businesses. The family have used a medium-sized grant from one of our sponsors to build, with their own home-made bricks, a residential/commercial structure on their plot of land, income from which will provide continuing support for the whole group.