Let me begin this post by saying I am SO SORRY I cannot get paragraph seperations to appear in this post. There is seperation between paragraphs in the editing scene, but when I click "publish", those seperations dissapear! I am so sorry. This blog post reads something like a run-on sentance. :) Also, please bear with me as I try and cover a lot of information in one post. I know it is a little confusing, especially without paragraph breaks!
For years (since I was about 22 years old) I have been following the story of the unrest in Uganda. At first, I didn't really understand all that was happening. This is something I feel EVERYONE should be aware of, so let me tell you what I know so you don't have to spend years trying to figure this all out. :)
(Let me make one thing perfectly clear!! I don't know everything there is to know about the LRA and what is happening day to day in Uganda and other places in Africa where the LRA moves. The tiny little bit I know comes mostly from personal accounts of people who have been in Uganda and experienced the effects of the LRA.)
The story begins with understanding the warring group, the LRA. So, let's start with answering this question: WHAT IS THE LRA?
The LRA (or LORD'S RESISTANCE ARMY) is an army lead by a man named Joseph Kony. You can read about the LRA HERE. Basically, this army exists to fight against the central government. The LRA uses children as their soldiers.
Fighting against a government is not a new concept. What makes the LRA so horrific is the means by which it fights. Absolutely horrible stories exist of how the LRA enforces it's power. I am hesitant to share these stories, and if you do not want to hear horrible, heartbreaking stories, please just skip this part of this blog post. The only reason I am sharing is so people understand that this is not just someone speaking out against government. When speaking of the LRA, we are not talking about picketing, or even full blown riots! We are speaking of absolutely inhumane, horrible acts of violence to prove power through intimidation and fear. I won't personally tell all the stories, but have related two and I have links to others. PLEASE, PLEASE do take the time to follow those links and read the stories. Do not just "skip over" them. Please read them! It is important to know these stories! Please read them.
A man and his young teenage daughter were on a crowded bus in Africa. The LRA stopped the bus and came on board. There, the soldiers killed many passengers. When they came to this man, they threatened to kill his daughter unless the man sexually molested his daughter. At gunpoint, this man was forced to perform such a horrible act against his daughter as the LRA soldiers watched.
The LRA came in to a village and killed many adults. Many of the children hid at the school. The LRA captured them. One boy later told that the LRA forced him to kill the members of his family by chopping them to pieces with a machete. He was then forced to carry a piece of his father's body with him as he walked the miles and miles with the other captured children to the LRA training area where they would be trained to be soldiers for the LRA.
This is a news report from this month found in the Las Angeles Times. Please read it HERE.
If you want to see an excellent documentary that tells stories of the LRA, watch "War Dance" (streaming on netflix!!).
One family has devoted their lives to serving orphans, including those in Africa. They have many stories of how they have helped children who are victims of the LRA. HERE is one account of the actions of the LRA.
Organizations exist to help free the children who have been forced to work as slaves, and others exist to help them return to society. Most have seen so much horror in their young lives that they cannot simply walk back in to normal life. One amazing young woman has started an organization, eXile International, to help former child soldiers of the LRA. HERE HERE you will find a speech the founder of eXile International presented in September of last year at the International Criminal Court Symposium.
Now, let me ask you a question. The LRA is stated to have started it's hardest rampages almost ten years ago. For how many of those years have you been aware of the LRA? How long have you known about the atrocities of the LRA? How long have you known the name "Joseph Kony"? When was the first time you learned of the LRA? What if you had been made aware before that time? Would you have done anything different? If only that meant offering one more prayer on behalf of the children kidnapped by the LRA? Do you wish you had known longer just so you could say you had not been ignorant to the suffering of others? Now, let me pose another question. What if there were a movement NOW to bring awareness in America of the Lord's Resistance Army? What if there were an organization working to just educate people, to let people know that there is the LRA, and that they are hurting and killing people? Now, I will tell you: there IS such a movement! It is starting NOW! They have called it "Kony 2012". So, I am certain most of you have heard about the movement: Kony 2012.
If you don't really know about Kony 2012, you can check out the video HERE.
There is a LOT of debate about this movement! Want to know MY feelings about Kony 2012? Come back tomorrow!