Thinking Beyond Borders: Reflections from a Children of Peace Uganda Volunteer

A few months ago, GO Campaign had the opportunity to connect Richard Elliot, an interested volunteer, with our partners at Children of Peace Uganda (CPU). One of our first partners from a post-conflict zone, CPU is led by Local Hero Jane Ekayu. With the devastating Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency, an estimated 66,000 of Uganda’s children have been forcibly recruited into warfare. Two-thirds of these children were severely abused, a fifth were forced to kill, and nearly 10% were forced to murder a family member or friend to bind them to the rebel group. Without a doubt, these children have experienced some of the worst traumas imaginable. Through CPU, Jane and her staff of four socials workers have helped more than 3,000 former child soldiers, rape victims, and youth orphaned from the war rebuild their lives. Since 2014, GO Campaign has provided grants to support CPU’s trauma therapy program which teaches the youth to become leaders and ambassadors of peace. Together, GO Campaign has supported CPU in rehabilitating over 750 youth.

Here is Richard’s account on his experience working with Jane and Children of Peace Uganda.

“Jane is an extraordinary woman who, at the risk of invoking a cliché, had me considering I was in the presence of greatness. Children of Peace Uganda is an organization staffed by extraordinarily welcoming and caring individuals working on a limited budget. The varied programs they’ve managed to implement are testimony to their passion and endeavor. I was able to visit a number of their programs including their bee-keeping initiative, their aquaculture farming initiative, and witness their counseling and mentoring initiatives. The organization sponsors many children in various schools around the city of Lira and runs programs through the schools such as the “Peace Club”, a form of group therapy which allows the traumatized children to more readily open up.

From my perspective, the experience was extraordinary. As a volunteer firefighter, I have attended roadside accidents where people had been killed and experienced such minimal emotional response others had worried about me. Meeting and speaking with the children brought me to tears at times and has inspired me to undertake similar endeavors in the near future. The work Children of Peace Uganda is doing has served to compel me to stop being sorry and to start being proactive…”

 

Richard Elliot, Volunteer