Hope for the Hopeless
HHF-Africa Journal, Part 5
“Hope is the dream of a soul awake.”
My father would always tell me that before you can come up with a solution, you must first define the problem. OK…..here is the problem:
For 22 years, Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army waged war on the people of northern Uganda. Think about that. 22 years. An entire generation whose lives were shaped by the horror of war and the terror of LRA sweeps through the area, kidnapping boys to be brainwashed into being child-soldiers and young girls to be raped and forced into servitude. 22 years. An estimated 40,000 children abducted.
At the peak, an estimated 1.7 million people had fled their homes and crowded into IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps such as Tagotatoo and Laminator IDP Camps outside of Gulu, in northern Uganda. An entire people severed from their lives and forced into living off the charity of others. An entire generation who lost their sense of connection to the land and community and who now know nothing else but dependency.
For two years now, there has been peace. Refugees are starting to return to their homes. IDP Camps have been “officially” closed. Many humanitarian programs and NGOs have stopped operations and moved on to other “hot spots”. The need is still there, though. An estimated 30-40% of the IDPs still live at the camps because they have nowhere else to go.
Even the IDPs who return home face trouble. With most of the elders and tribal leaders dead, and with the length of time displaced, many are finding it difficult to identify their land exactly or find others have taken it in their absence. The Land Courts will be full for years in the future. For those with land, many have no ability or resources to rebuild homes destroyed or replant farms.
And those still at the camps? These individuals can be put into groups that describe their particular level of challenges of adaptability to the process of settlement, and can be classified in three different categories:
- Extremely Vulnerable Individuals (EVIs) and People with Special Needs (PSNs). “The most vulnerable IDPs (EVIs and PSNs) include people with disabilities, severely traumatized people, female-headed households, orphans and child-headed households, and elderly people without family support. Some of them are presently struggling to survive, especially in those camps where the World Food Program (WFP) has stopped food distributions, due to a lack of funding.” Source: Geneva briefing by the UN RSG on the human rights of IDPs, 29 July 2009
- People that can’t go back to their original land due to land disputes.
- The group of people left behind in the refugee camps by their families for diverse reasons. These include women who have lost their husbands and have no sons, who are driven off their land by their former relatives.
So what is the solution?
Humanity Healing has proposed IDPERRI: Internally Displaced Person Empowerment, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Initiative. We are currently building a community of individuals, nonprofits, local and national government agencies, businesses, and other entities to work together to build a new type of platform to approach the problem. During my recent visit, this initiative received the enthusiastic support of the local, regional and national governing bodies.
In upcoming blogs, I will be discussing IDPERRI and how this new integrated concept will be bringing Hope to the hopeless.
Of all the places I visited during my recent trip to Africa, the IDP Camps around Gulu were the most difficult for me. There is a miasma of despair that is palpable and I wept at the feel of it. And yet, I have no doubt that we were led here. Humanity Healing was originally started to connect hearts to make a greater impact. Here, where the need for compassion is so great, is where we are dropping a pebble in the pond. Our goal is nothing less than the elimination of these camps through the reintegration of these individuals back into communities and society as productive members. Hope is the dream of a soul awake. Share this dream with us, help restore Hope to those who have lost it and watch the impact ripple out.
~ Christopher Buck
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