PAINFUL SUFFERING OF CHILDREN ORPHANED IN
Vulnerable children in Northern Uganda suffer appalling
abuses and neglect. Civil wars start from one day to the next. More than 54% of the children in this region are orphans without
one or both parents, abandoned children, street children, children living with HIV/AIDS, War affected children traumatised
and handicapped, child mothers, children of poor parenting, sexually abused, children with disabilities, children in institutions,
displaced children, victims of labor exploitation and domestic violence, children in conflict with the law and faces merciless
abuse which takes innocent, fragile lives and brutalizes them with extreme poverty, constant hunger, relentless diseases,
homelessness and malnourished, abuse and exploitation with no hope for basic education.
The most tragic aspect of more than 16 years of
civil war has been the disturbance, displacement of children and their families who are recruited or kidnapped to serve as
soldiers in military forces. Over 14,000 children between age 7 – 18 years constituting 80% of the LRA rebels have been
abducted from Northern Uganda, small number have escaped and returned home while others are still in rebel captivity and continuing
to escape and they suffer untold psychosocial trauma due to their past experience, girls are forced to become wives of the
LRA commander. Sometimes children as young as six years old are forced to work under extremely difficult conditions, Uganda
still has high rate of orphan of truly awesome dimension and has already more than 2.5 million children orphaned and living
with the virus, they are too young to fend for themselves.
The standard of education is extremely low and the
war has serious problem of lost generation of children who never went to school or were forced to drop out leaving many currently
idol, unskilled, uneducated with no hope for the future and is a social burden to the country and young generation enormous
and potentially explosive. This group of children is currently being easily lured to join armed forces. Early marriage to
the girl child and who are heading families and early pregnancy below 14 years of age is increasing number of unplanned/unwanted
children who are not cared for and die at the age of below 3 years. It has the highest infant mortality rate of IMR 172/1000.
Ironically, within the care of the state, orphans
are often subject to abuse and mistreatment, orphaned and abandoned children are housed in appalling institutions where they
suffer from cruelly and neglect and many die. For many students, life in and outside the classroom is intolerable at the hands
of peers and teachers, many children suffer under act of discrimination, abuse and sexual violence and harassment. Today more
than 10 children die in every one minute and the statistic is growing all the time.
CHILDEN CAMPS AND ORPHANAGE
Life in the children camps and orphanages alone
is horrible and unbearable, children with their families sleep under the leaves of trees and grass being beaten by heavy rain
and sunshine, there are no latrines in these camps and waste products are dropped any where in the compound, the sanitation
is too poor and there is constant outbreak of cholera in the camps and we found many children die every day and the people
in the camps use traditional medicine to try to treat cholera and malaria which does not cure because there is no medicine
and children die as early as 3 years of age because there is no vaccination.
There is no drinking water in the camps
and children there drinks mud rain water on the ground and many children are being infected daily with diseases. More than
9 children from the four camps die daily. Skin diseases like scabies has affected all the children in the camps and they live
with that because there is no treatment.
Children there have not tested what food is like
and i saw with my eyes as they eat rotten food from the cabbage pit, eating rats, wild plants and insects and i then stopped
them immediately and tears fell from my eyes and all the staffs were crying. we saw children lying down with no energy and
malnourished with no skin and its just bones on their body which is seen with swollen stomach and they cannot even walk with
flies covering their bodies and saliva falling off their mouth and their mothers has given up on them because of poverty.
Children are bearing cold weather without
blankets and walk half naked, there is no eating utensils like plates, cups, water containers around there and i had no words.
This is the worst humanitarian crisis the world
has ever had and the state of the children in the camps is too worst and is costing the lives of many children and the world
has forgotten about the plight of the children in this war torn region of northern Uganda
The children are wasted and are all worn out with
no future and are facing painful hunger, traumatised and psychologically affected. Children are with swollen feet and deep
wounds rotting without treatment.
When I arrived there, children ran to me requesting
for food, medicine and drinking water and some cannot walk and women started crying appealing for help for their poorest children.
One lady told me they have never received any relief and no one cares about them and cannot even go home because the rebels
will kill them..
CHILDREN LIFE ON THE STREET OF GULU TOWN
The number of children taking refugee on the streets of Gulu town is seriously swelling.
The Children are very young but are all worn out
both in body, mind and soul. Every evening they have to pack their old blankets or ragged bed sheets and torn exercise books
with pages missing in a buveera and walk several miles to Gulu town fearing the abduction by Kony rebels in their homes, over
20,000 children between 5 to 17 years of age sleep out in cold and squeeze themselves in church compounds, hospitals, bus
stops and drainage, verandas and streets where many end up getting malaria and other contagious diseases. Many have swollen
foot and some have deep wound due to injury during long journey to town for safety.
They sleep from midnight to 6:00 am, then start
the tiring journey back home. Some especially the young, reach home when they are exhausted and cannot proceed to school,
others go to school straight away from the street without brushing their teeth or bathing. They sleep with empty stomach for
many days because their parents or relative cannot afford a meal for them.
The Education standard is falling as the frightened
children move up and down on streets in search of refugee and have less time to concentrate on books. Only a few persevere
to revise their books under difficult circumstances from the lit verandas at night. Schools are being attacked at the same
time abducting children and teachers.
Some children have taken to menial work around the
town to raise some money for scholastic materials, fees, food and resorting to prostitution and some unscrupulous men lure
the young girls for sex in exchange for money. It is clearly evidenced that these children are suffering higher rate of malnutrition,
illiteracy, discrimination, mistreatment, defilement, and early marriage on the streets causing distress and fear about their
future and other related cases which presents the starkest and gravest challenge in the lives of vulnerable children. Due
to this, Northern Uganda has the highest number of orphans and Uganda has also the highest number of orphans in sub- Saharan
Africa and the figure in increasing.
Neither words nor statistics can adequately capture
the human tragedy children grieving in great pain, suffering and trauma difficult to endure.
In St. Mary's hospital Lacor, Otim lies
in pain in the dressing room. I can see the terror in his eyes. In the evening of the 3rd july 2005 the rebels came to their home in Unyama and subjected him to a most horrible mutilation which left him without
ears, lips and fingers. It is the 10th such incident that I have ever seen over the past month. His torturers rapped his ears
in a letter and put it in his pocket. The blood stained piece of paper gave a strong warning to whoever want to support he
government, We shall do what we have done to him. Otim age 16 whose plan was to join first year of secondary education. His
father brought him on the back of a bike at midday and I was in the hospital listening to another group of traumatized children
who came from the same area.
For the past six months the rebels have been very
active stealing the little food distributed as humanitarian relief,, abducting boys and girls, sexual abuse and brutal mutilation
of children, men and women and routinely beaten. Just one week ago a boy age 15 spent one week in the hospital after being
severely beaten and died of his injuries, Parents know that if the rebels find the village empty of children, then they themselves
will be cruelly beaten but they are ready to pay the price.
An old woman age 56 surrounded by her 6 young grandchildren
below the age of 10. She lost her sons who where murdered by LRA rebels in s brutal mutilation. The orphans lied down on the
bare ground with no energy to talk and even raise their heads from the ground and dying of hunger and their ribs are exposed
and spent more than 7 days without food and drinking water, crying with saliva and flies covering their bodies, are eating
damped rotten food from the rubbish can. Kind people gave them some little food and drinking water. This is one of several
This is a nasty war that has ragged in the northern
Uganda for the past 28 years. Not that you hear anything about it on the gleaming streets of Kampala, USA, UK etc or on the
news there or abroad like CNN, BBC. The only people who remember this war painfully are its victims, the million people who
live in a squalid displaced camps, orphanages and spend their night hiding in the jungle or behind church walls. Now more
people throughout the world are interested in knowing what is going on in northern Uganda.
ORPHANAGES AND WHAT CHILDREN AID IS DOING
Children Aid organisation is running five orphanages
with more than 10,000 orphans and supporting children in the children camps and night commuters on the street of Gulu town
by resettling the children back to schools and sponsoring them through paying their school fees, books, pens, pencils, mathematical
sets, and school uniform and monitor their performances in schools, providing counseling to make children cope with the trauma
and psychological effect of the pain, offering constant medical treatment and check ups, providing them with feeding programme
and emergency relief items like food, blankets, clothing and building shelters for them .
CHALLENGES BEING FACED BY CHILDREN AID UGANDA
The biggest problem children Aid Organisation is
facing in the effort to support the orphans is the increasing number of orphans in to the orphanages and lack of funds to
continue offering the support to the affected children. The needs of the children here are too great, which requires external
URGENT NEEDS ON THE CHILDREN ON THE GROUND.
There is needs for funds to provide the urgent needs
for education sponsorship (interims of school fees, scholastic materials like books, pens, pencils, uniform)for all the orphans
since orphans are interested in continuing with their studies relief items like Food, medicines, shelters, blankets, clothing,
Jeri cans, and basins, cooking utensils, cups, and plates for more than 30,000 children under Children Aid, There is also
urgent need of clean drinking water, classrooms etc.
Children Aid Uganda
81 Lower Chcurch Drive Road
P.O Box 427