CHILD SOLDIERS OF UGANDA
“Childhood is a pivotal time in our lives. But it is also fragile and can be easily corrupted by the effects of war”.
A war fought by children on children. Seems like a fictional story, too horrifying and unrealistic to be the truth, and yet it’s exactly the story of Uganda. Officially known as the republic of Uganda located in East Africa. For 18 years the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) has rebelled against the government, and it has created one of Africa’s largest displaced populations. The real horror about this cruel war is the fact that 90% of LRA’s soldiers are children. Some as young as 8 years old. They are brutally captured and forced to carry out war crimes against their own family, friends and others. They are taught to be emotionless, cold blooded ruthless killers, desensitized to the point of not feeling anything at all. They are brainwashed and drugged to help them kill better, without thinking first.
The United Nations estimates that since the rebellion began in the 1980’s, 30 000 or more children have been abducted to work as child soldiers. The truth about child soldiers is especially disheartening because they are forced to kill their family or be killed. They have no chance to escape because if caught, they will be brutally tortured and lose their lives. All these have huge consequences on the physical, and emotional development of these children. Even with ongoing efforts to stabilize the country and to bring peace it will still be a trying task for these children who have grown up into young adults. These former child soldiers will have to be reintegrated into the community after much psychological and medical assistance. These children will be the face of the new generation and therefore will have to be strong enough to be functioning members of society.
Uganda and other countries in the same situation as Uganda need the help and support of the whole world. According to Amnesty international only a small percentage of millions of dollars sent to help countries in Africa actually reach their targeted victims. Where does the rest of that money go ? Why has it taken over 18 years for the world to wake up and reach out to these suffering countries?
Sadly, it is still an ongoing battle and it will continue to show the effects of war for years and years to come. Nobody is too young or too small to make a difference in the lives of others. My older sisters’ former high school organizes walks for countries like Darfur, Uganda and Kenya every year to raise awareness and to sell t-shirts to which the proceeds go to help those former child soldiers get the help they need. I actually have all her t-shirts from all 3 years of high school , and every time I wear them they remind me of how fortunate we are. We are warm, sheltered, fed, educated and provided with so many opportunities that millions of children around the world will never even get to dream of. Any one of us could have been born into Uganda but instead we were lucky enough to be here, and we need to think about the people that aren’t as fortunate as us, and the ones that desperately need all of our help.