This was on the main page of the Washington Post website this morning. It caught my attention because it was about a woman who had escaped the infamous rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda. I remember when I first heard about the atrocities of abducting children…
I used to work in the back room of Smathers Library, shooting old newspapers from East Africa and Latin America and putting them on microfilm. Exciting, I know. Anyway during freshman year, Matt was the one who showed me old newspaper clippings and headlines of the Ugandan war, which of course I never knew about. Looking back on this, I think this was one of the incidents that eventually led me to pursue courses in African studies, particularly with an East Africa emphasis. I honestly didn’t believe Matt at first when he said that 50,000 kids had been kidnapped and that this had been going on for a decade, but there were the facts… laid out on crinkled, yellowed newspapers that hardly anybody would ever look at again.
Of course, many young American students became familiar with the plight of the child soldiers and sex slaves of Uganda thanks to the Invisible Children movement, which exponentially ballooned while I was a student at UF. I remember attending the Global Commute, hosting IC parties and even a benefit concert or two… Wow, seems like such a long time ago.
Since moving back to Orlando, I’ve sort of felt not as connected to all this, especially with no fellow idealistic students to spur me on. Diffusion of responsibility and all that. Ugh.
But this story caught my eye because it’s about the what I think is the harder part… Post-trauma. What do with the freedom? With empowerment? These are the questions that it’s easy to forget to anticipate when one is caught up in the idealistic wave of fighting social ills.
This story is about Catherine Ojok, a woman pretty much the same age as me who spent years as a sex slave to one of the army generals. This is a link to a short video of her life post-liberation.
The video reminded me of a couple of things this morning, resurfacing some emotions and ideals seem to have slipped off my radar as of late:
I hate injustice.
And I want to see people free. In every way.
Anyway, I hope you’ll take the time to watch the video. It’s only about 6 minutes long.