New Life For Former LRA Abductees As NGOs Pull Out

2469 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The former abductees who are mostly single mothers, used to live on handouts from NGOs, which have since ceased to operate in northern Uganda following the end of the war.

Women who were formerly abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army—LRA rebels in northern Uganda are struggling to cope on their own as Non Governmental Organizations pull out.

The former abductees who are mostly single mothers, used to live on handouts from NGOs, which have since ceased to operate in northern Uganda following the end of the war.

But as the NGOs close shop, one vulnerable group, the former abductees who came out of the bush with children fathered by LRA commanders, are now faced with the challenge of fending for themselves and their children. The challenges range from providing shelter, food, medical care to education.

Ruth Aber, is a 30 year old former abductee who was taken to the bush when she was a primary six pupil at Prison Primary School in Gulu. She was forced to marry an LRA fighter and is now among the single mothers who are struggling on their own to make ends meet.

She’s struggling to fend for children whom she produced while in the bush. She explains that formerly a Good Samaritan whom she identifies as Els De Temmerman used to support her children and many others with school fees but she has since stopped.

With the help of Invisible Children, an international charity, Aber and other former abductees make art and craft pieces to raise money to support their families. She explains that through her new trade she’s been able to educate her three children, two of whom are in a boarding primary school in Kampala.

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Aber says she has also learnt business skills which she hopes will help her in the future as she resettles.

Stella Angela Lanam, who was abducted by the LRA rebels in 1996 at the age of 10 and stayed in captivity for seven years, says she has since learned to survive on her own ever since she escaped from the bush.

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She says after escaping from the rebels she spent time at a rehabilitation centre where she learnt life skills such as tailoring.

Lanam now uses her skills to make bags from a centre run by the Invisible Children. She says this has enabled her to pay school fees for her two children as well as pay for accommodation and medical care.

Amx Valentine Jones, the Social Enterprise Manager at the Invisible Children office in Gulu, says there are twenty two former women abductees at the centre who earn their living through making crafts.

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Analysts blame the slow progress in northern Uganda on lack of a contingency plan to fill the gap left by NGOs as they pulled out of the region. Most NGOs began withdrawing operations after 2006 when government and LRA agreed to a ceasefire, even though the final peace agreement was never signed.
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