A SYMBOL OF FORGIVENESS
My friend Julius has every right to be angry and bitter. Julius was stolen at age 13 by Kony’s rebels, forced to be a child soldier, he walked 100miles to a rebel camp in Soroti in Uganda’s North East, he was subjected to watching innocent victims maImed right in front of him as a “desensitizer” to evil, as he ran for his life with 15 other boys from the rebel camp he looked back to see that 9 of them hadn’t made it- they were hit by bullets from a government plane flying overhead that mistook them for being rebels, returning home he listened to the stories of orphans who had fled their village after their parents had been killed, he watched in horror one day as a bus just ahead of the bus he was on was bombed by rebels- all 75 people were killed. And then the heart wrencher, his mother, walking innocently along the road during the height of the war, trying to find food for her family, was shot by rebels of Joseph Kony’s army. She lay bleeding for three days before passing away in Julius’s fathers arms. Julius feels that she may have survived if only his mother Kristina had access to medical care. The North of his country was torn apart by the LRA, a terror group, for 25 years, like Julius’s mother, hundreds of thousands of innocent victims lost their lives, more than 2 million were forced out of their homes and into refugee camps, all this suffering…and largely ignored by western countries.
My friend Julius has every right to be angry and bitter… but he’s not. Recently, on a visit to Australia, Julius had just finished sharing his harrowing story to an audience of around 300 people. When he’d finished speaking, someone in the audience asked him if he had forgiven Joseph Kony? Julius, without hesitation, answered “yes… I cannot hold bitterness in my heart, it would be like a poison to me, it is better that I forgive Kony, it’s the only way forward, if I stay bitter I am useless to my community and to those who have suffered” Julius then went on to describe the recently opened Kristina Health Centre, (the medical clinic in his village named in honor of his mother) as “a symbol of forgiveness and a symbol of peace”. Sitting in the front row, hearing this, I was once again reminded of what Grace is.
Since the Kristina Health Centre opened, many of those who suffered throughout the war are receiving the dignity of adequate health care. The staff- two nurses, clinic manager and lab technician have been treating up to 40 patients per day. People have been walking up to 80km’s to receive treatment and medication from the Health centre. The most common illnesses being treated are malaria, typhoid and flu, as well as other internal organ type issues inlcuding cancer which involves referral to Lira Hospital for surgery.
Love Mercy are committed to stage II of the clinic, our sister foundation, Achon Uganda Children’s Fund is eagerly planning the “International Quarters” of the Clinic to house volunteers from overseas who have experience in the medical field (nurses, doctors, dentists, midwives etc) who are willing to go and volunteer at the Kristina Health Centre. We see this need as crucial to the future development of the staff at Kristina Health Centre and also for the long term commitment of volunteers to the community that we are trying to restore and rebuild.
I believe poverty is not the responsibility of the government but of humanity…
International (volunteers) Quarters… another symbol of forgiveness… bring it on!