Lighting the Way since 1953  
Children of Uganda suffer violent fate

By: Jessica Young/Guest Writer

     It is amazing how truly ignorant we are, as Americans, when it comes to the world’s happenings.
      We have television stations that are devoted solely to 24-hour “news casting,” and yet the more “sensitive” issues seem to escape the press’s attention completely.
      However, if we would begin to realize the importance of expanding our world view beyond the television set, we would find that it is these “invisible” issues that are pleading for recognition.
      In Northern Uganda war has been raging for over two decades between the Ugandan government and the LRA — Lord’s Resistance Army — led by the ruthless rebel, Joseph Kony.
      Keno’s political objective isunclear other than his obvious attempts to discredit the government through the continual terrorization of the local population. Fear is undoubtedly his strongest tactic as he slaughters villages, leaving the few that remain alive, physically mutilated, hacking off hands and arms, ears and noses, and padlocking the lips of those who might report him.
      However, the most ruthless of his activities goes far beyond the severing of limbs. In order to continue the fight he must retain a large — and obedient — army, of which he finds in the children of the local villages, consequently forcing the people to fuel the fire of this war with their own flesh.
      To date, well over 30,000 children have been abducted and subsequently inducted into the LRA. Furthermore, the process of the indoctrination of these child soldiers is gruesome, involving brutal beatings, rape, and ruthless brainwashing, resulting in heartless trained killers as young as five years old.
      But the crisis does not end here; the government’s 1996 attempt to protect the civilians resulted in the displacement of 1.7 million people to “protective villages.”
Today, 90 percent of the population lives in these camps, which are no less vulnerable to the LRA attacks and lack the very basic needs for survival.
      Consequently, approximately 1,000 people are dying weekly due to these terrible conditions. Also, the Ugandan Army who has been given the responsibility of providing protection has actually been accused of indiscriminate torture, murder, and rape.
      Two weeks ago during chapel, Wayland students were presented with the blatant truth concerning this issue. We were forced to recognize the incredible danger in which this country finds itself.
      But this country is crying out for more than recognition, it is crying out for relief, and who are we to deny them? We say, “There’s really nothing I can do,” or “That’s Africa, it’s different,” as we settle into the luxury of our easy chairs, thanking God that we live in this “Land of Opportunity.”
      But with these passive statements we must ask ourselves, “Is there really nothing I can do, or am I just lazy?” and “Why is Africa ‘different?’”
      Is it because they are somehow sub-human, or perhaps it is the color of their skin? No, we’re not prejudice. But honestly, would we view this situation differently if these children bore the face of the white man?
      The truth is, as Americans, we would never allow this kind of tragedy on our soil; so, how can we sit idly as a helpless country falls to its knees in pain and fear, pleading for our action?
      There is a need, and the time has come to quit “passing the buck.” If you will not stand, who will?
      There is an organization that has devoted itself to aiding the people of Northern Uganda, it is called Invisible Children. This organization will be on the Wayland campus in Harral Auditorium on Monday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m.
They will be providing a screening and discussing the progress that has been made in Northern Uganda, all are encouraged to attend.
      Out of this need has sprung a movement on campus; faculty and students are realizing the importance of involvement in global issues such as these. If you are passionate about leaving behind “religion” and beginning loving as Christ, there is a group that has begun to meet and deliberate upon ways to effect change in places like Uganda.
      If you are interested in being involved please contact Jessica Young or Dr. Rick Shaw, Director of Wayland Missions Center, at 291-1162.