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Julius Achon has an inspiring story of hope which continues to unfold. He grew up in the remote village of Awake in Northern Uganda in severe poverty. At the age of 11, he was captured by rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to become a child soldier. He was held captive for 3 months until an opportunity to escape arose when a government plane flew over the LRA camp. Julius escaped but sadly witnessed the murder of 9 of his friends as they ran for their lives. When Julius returned to school, he knew he had athletic talent and so began to run 8 kilometres to and from school each day for training. He was selected to run at the District athletics carnival but could not afford the bus ticket. To avoid missing out on competing, Julius ran 72 kilometres in 4 hours to make the carnival which he went on to win. This was the first of many local successes, which lead to Julius being offered a scholarship to George Mason University in South Carolina. From here, Julius began his professional running career including being flag bearer for Uganda at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
One morning on a routine training run in Uganda, Julius literally stumbled upon 11 orphaned children living in a bus shelter. These children, who had been displaced by Africa's longest running war, were without food, clothing, housing or education, with some of the children unable to remember even their own names. From that day on, Julius took the children in as his own family. It was after this time, when he was struggling to take care of the orphans that he had a chance meeting with Eloise and the seeds for Love Mercy were sown.
Julius’ dreams of seeing his village prosper have begun to take shape with the opening of the Kristina Health Centre in 2012, named after his late mother who was shot and killed by the LRA. Julius lives in Kampala with his wife Grace and two children, where he manages Love Mercy’s operations on the ground.
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