28 October 2010

A church burnt down in Northern Uganda

By Rev. Willy Akena
Although Kony’s war is over in Northern Uganda, but the spirit of burning grass thatched houses is still raging on. On Friday night, community of Akonyibedo village in Unyama Parish Aswa County woke up astounded to see the Church that was built by the Christian in this place burnt down, about five other houses were also burnt by one called Ojok Morris. According to the Catechist Florence Okoya, the Church was built last year 2009 during the time of return. The community who also lived in grass thatched huts, decided to put up a place for worship of God. This was a central place in their lives where they renew their lives and gain energy to continue moving. The Parish Priest of Pakwelo whose sub-parish is Akonyibedo, Rev. Komakech Charles reported the incident to the Bishop on Saturday 23rd October, 2010. You could see the trauma in the Reverend who did not even realize that he had not combed his hair while coming to report this case. On a visit to the Site of the incident, we found the church still burning. One old woman whose husband donated the land to the Church said “latim man omyero oto woko pien man tim marac atikatika” meaning the man who did this deserve to die.
Rev. Charles Okello the Diocesan Education Co-ordinator who also visited the scene strongly condemned this act as satanic and unchristian. To the Church he however said” We as a church need to stop building grass thatched houses like the one that was burnt down and focus on the ministry of healing of trauma and memories, and also appeal to the NGO’s throughout the world to help in resettlement and restoration” to the government the Reverend said “It is high time the government gives support to improve the livelihood of people in the community” Said Okello
On Sunday 24th October the Bishop of the Diocese of northern Uganda the Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba also visited the church. He was met by the Catechist and a few Christians who were praying under a tree now that their church is burnt down. They appreciated the visit by their Bishop and said it is a true sign of a good Shepherd. The Bishop equally condemned this act and blamed it on trauma as a result of the war. The Bishop also urged the christian to collect the bricks that still look good and make some more so that they rebuild their church. He however stopped them from using grass again as this may be burnt down. He encouraged them to raise the wall and together with them he will look for iron sheets.
In line with this incident the Bishop is kindly appealing to well wishers to support this church by donating iron sheets so that the people are resettled back to their church. Incase of interest to support, call the Bishop on + 256 (0) 772601421 or e-mail j.kumba.faith@hotmail.com

07 October 2010

Challenges in our Primary Schools in Northern Uganda

Report on text books distribution in 33 primary schools in Diocese of Northern Uganda
By Rev. Okello Charles –Education Secretary
Education Department Diocese of Northern Uganda requested for text books from Director Children International Church of Uganda-Provincial Education Department. After receiving these text books I drew programme to distribute it to 33 Primary School within the Dioceses of Northern Uganda
Strategies used during distributions
• Requested for a vehicle to help in the distribution
• Requested for a driver to drive the vehicle
• Requested enough fuel to reach the 33 schools
• Encouraged headteachers, teachers and pupils to make good use of the books and develop
• Prayed for the administrators, teachers and pupils of these schools as I distributed text books
• Asked the school administrators of challenges they are facing in the day to day running of their schools

• We distributed the text book to 33 schools which are church of Uganda founded schools
• Each of the 33 schools received at least 100 text books
• We guided the teachers to take teaching as God given service. To guide and direct the future of the young children
• We encouraged the children to develop goals in vacation they would take in future. This is to help them be self driven and work hard
Challenges we met during the distribution exercise
• Many children in rural schools don’t have access to text books
• Teachers lack reference books
• Many children move bear feet. This indicates that they lack most essential things for life
• Teachers have no accommodation in school
• There is high level of unexpected absentism of teaching during rainy season
• Time management is very poor due to distance from teachers homes to schools
• Some schools have no staff room and offices
• Most school lack equipment for co-curricular activities
• Many school wanted books for science which was very few copies
• The capacity of administrators in schools is very law
• We need more of the science text books for primary schools
• We need support to improve our schools to become model schools
• We need more houses for teachers accommodation in schools
• We need library, staff room and additional class rooms in some schools
• We need equipment for co-curricular activities

05 October 2010

Voice of Youth From Northern Uganda

Guest of honour, fellow youth, children, country men and women of this nation. Today as we celebrate the international day of Peace, we have to bear at the back of our mind that this is a global call for ceasefire and non violence. We the youth of Northern Uganda invites all nations and peace practitioners to honour cessation of hostilities and commemorate the day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.
Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked. Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the millennium development goals aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease and maternal mortality by 2015.
All the negative conditions above reflect greatly on us the youth of Northern Uganda who are emerging from the dark claws of war for the last 2 decades. We have comparatively lagged behind in terms of economic security, education, employment, health and our hope in life has continued to dwindle. This year’s celebration of the International Peace Day and particularly the theme: “Peace, Youth and Development present to us a perfect opportunity to aid out our voices in demand for a peaceful co-existence and development.
Peace is something unseen, something untouched and something divine that needs a gradual process to reach at. Peace in northern Uganda is a general concern and the wish of all Ugandans and all the stakeholders to ensure that a common understanding exists so that everything runs smoothly.
A cry for peace is the tears of all in suffering, so is Uganda. We the youth of northern Uganda appeal to any warrior and peace lover to help us seek and find peace through love, forgiveness, reconciliation but not through hatred, wars and rebellion.
In the same spirit, we would like to appeal to all Ugandans to develop the spirit of love and accommodation of each others views especially in the forth coming national elections next year. We have witnessed the untold suffering that violence can inflict in the society in the recent years in Kenya. We would therefore not wish to experience the same in the name of our political differences.
In conclusion, as we join the whole world, we believe that with commitment in the peace process we shall have it one day. We call upon the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army to pursue a peaceful means of ending the conflict in our region.

In another related development on September 21st 2010 a Peace March was held in Gulu as part of the celebration of International World Peace Day the Chairman of Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba gave a speech and Rev. Willy gives you an extract.
We as religious leaders support the initiative of the World all over to celebrate a day of peace. Peace does not necessarily means absent of war. For instance people fighting for land is a sign that there is no peace, where domestic violence is high is sign that there is no peace, when fellow citizens fight for votes that is a sign of insecurity, when people abuse each other on radios is a sign that they are not at peace. So peace should not only be treated as silence of the gun but where God’s children live in harmony with one another and this should start at home.

Under the theme “Showing solidarity with all people affected by the LRA regardless of the country they come from” I would like to link this to the LRA disarmament bill and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009 which president Obama signed into law on the 24th May 2010. Since we stand for non violence we wrote an open letter urging him against use of force.
This walk which is dedicated to the children abducted by the LRA and the suffering they go through, for the sake of these children we urge regional movements to adapt dialogues to end the war.
Every effort should therefore be made to provide opportunities for defection, to provide services such as rehabilitation centre in CAR, DRC, Sudan and Uganda and to foster reconciliation within communities.
For over 23 years millions of our sisters and brothers throughout Northern Uganda and Eastern Uganda have suffered violence at the hands of the LRA rebel group. As church leaders from Northern Uganda, we have witnessed the past and present impact of the LRA in our communities. We know children who were abducted and force to fight for the LRA. We know women who were raped and abused by the LRA, and we know of countless others who are still in captivity with the rebels.
To the Lords Resistance Army
• Immediately desist from all forms of violence against the civilian population
• Release those abducted so they may return home to their families
• Allow uninhibited access to individuals in need so that humanitarian aid can be provided to them
• Show a commitment to peace by renewing communication with the GoU and or other stakeholders
• Honour commitments made during the Juba Peace Talks
To the Government of Uganda
• To develop a withdrawal plan for Ugandan troops in co-ordination with the regional governments and the United Nations to ensure civilian protection and containment of conflict
• Honour the commitment made to the Juba Peace Talks and seek ways for the hurried implementation of the agenda items
• Fulfill the commitment to the Peace and Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) both financially
• Practically endure effective performance
• Prioritize reconciliation and forge ways to faster harmonious coexistence
Regional Governments of LRA affected areas (Uganda, DRC, South Sudan and CAR)
• Purse dialogue with the LRA as a means of ending the conflict
• Continue to engage in robust diplomacy with regional stakeholders to meet the needs of the affected people.
• Develop and support a joint containment strategy to ensure the violence does not continue to spread
• Make it a commitment to meeting the humanitarian needs of the LRA affected communities in a time sensitive manner
• Develop a plan to foster the return and rehabilitation of individuals who have been abducted by the LRA in their respective countries
• Engage in trust and confidence building approaches with the LRA
The International Community
• Increase support for the implementation of the items agreed upon in the Juba peace talks, especially transitional justice mechanisms which foster community reconciliation in accordance to what was agreed under Agenda Item#3 on Accountability & Reconciliation
• Engage with stakeholders at the grassroots level of all LRA affected areas in the region in order to determine a consensus on how to move forward.