It’s always a happy day when we learn that the young girls who have graduated from ChildVoice’s Lukome Center in northern Uganda have secured good jobs within their community.
Newly launched Nguvu Dairy, whose tagline is “Yoghurt for a Strong Body,” has employed four former ChildVoice students at its busy production facility in Gulu. These girls are Gloria from Class 2, Rose and Evelyn from Class 3, and Paska, who graduated most recently with Class 6. The four girls started a little more than a month ago; three of them are working in production, and one is helping in the kitchen.
We are proud of what they have accomplished over the past 18 months and are eager to see them step into the next exciting—and much brighter—chapter of their lives.
The dignity, value, and worth of all women has always been something close to my heart. Even before my college days at Wellesley, there were knots in the pit of my stomach and pain in my chest when I saw other women, especially young ones, mistreated, abused, oppressed, violated, or verbally belittled by others, all because they were “just a woman.” Yet living and working at the Lukome Center alongside young girls who are now teen mothers, whose entire lives have been filled with deep suffering from such negativity toward women, brings the inner discontentment to an entirely new level.
Uganda, a nation healing from deep traumatic suffering. A nation where 50% of its population is under the age of 15 because of previous massacres. A nation where everyone lived in constant fear of the rebel soldiers from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) just 10 years ago. A nation where survivors recall terrors during the night. A nation where daughters were taken as child brides, women and children raped, husbands slaughtered with machetes in front of their families, kids handed guns and forced to shoot their parents, and thousands of people displaced from their villages and loved ones.
Sitting under a mango tree at ChildVoice’s Lukome Center in northern Uganda, I listened to the stories told by ChildVoice counselors. One colleague told a sad war story which, much to my surprise, evoked many laughs. He must have noted my apparent confusion at the incongruous reaction and explained, “If we mourned all of those who died, we would die of sadness. Instead we laugh and tell their stories. This is how we honor them. It’s how we survive.”
By Presidential Proclamation, January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, meant to shed light on the signs and consequences of this global tragedy. We at ChildVoice are all too familiar with the atrocities and abuses committed against young, vulnerable children who have been kidnapped or coerced into sexual slavery and forced labor. Here is the story of one such young South Sudanese girl, now at the Lukome Center, who was rescued from a childhood of prostitution.
For those of us in the United States, it’s totally unimaginable what the girls currently living at the Lukome Center have been through. And 17-year-old Keji, from the war-torn country of South Sudan, is no exception.
In 2011, the UN declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child to recognize girls’ rights and to highlight the challenges that girls face around the world.
At ChildVoice, we have worked for the last 10 years to provide educational opportunities for war-affected girls.
As we enter 2016, we are pleased to be celebrating our 10 year anniversary. Since 2006, ChildVoice has been providing war-affected girls with an opportunity to rebuild their lives in northern Uganda. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our donors.
Last week we announced the upcoming publication of Enduring the Night: Courageous Stories of Survival by Former Girl Soldiers. This book, compiled and edited by former ChildVoice interns, features the stories of several Lukome Centre graduates who were abducted as children by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Please join us and participate in an upcoming ChildVoice’s Walk a Mile in Their Shoes fundraiser in your community!
ChildVoice students will travel to Gulu to participate in a community celebration of International Women’s Day 2014.
ChildVoice’s lead counselor, Winnie Acayo and five of our Lukome Center girls (three current students and two successful graduates) met this week with the Parliament of Uganda.