A lot of people have asked me why I went to Gulu this summer. The reasons are a few fold. The main reason that the trip was scheduled is because one of the summer volunteers is hoping to intern with an organization that is in Gulu – and since she was already in Uganda, it made sense to help her connect with them. The reason I was so excited to join in on the adventure is that last summer I was able to go to the Acholi Quarters and learned about an organization called Africa Arise. The Acholi Quarter is filled with people who fled northern Uganda, specifically the area around Gulu, for safety during the war. Even if you don’t know much about the war, you probably have heard on Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army and how they kidnapped children to be child soldiers in their army. The tribe that lives in that region is the Acholi people – hence the name of the Acholi Quarters.
While it was good for them to have a safe place to live during the war, the Acholi Quarter is a place of extreme poverty and many other sad realities. Yet it is a place of hope and hospitality. It is a place where God is at work. The people who live in the Acholi Quarter have all been affected in some way or another by the war in the north. Whether they were abducted, raped by soldiers, had people they loved killed, or other awful things, the war has shaped their pasts and affects their lives today. Africa Arise was started to provide trauma counseling, discipleship, skills training and more to empower the people to reclaim the lives they should be able to have today. They were the first organization to provide counseling for the men in the community as well as the women. Many men wept when they first heard that help would be provided for them as well. Africa Arise now partners with and supports a Ugandan based organization with a similar mission. It is called I Live Again Uganda, or ILA. The end goal is to help families resettle in Gulu.
The time I spent in the Acholi Quarter last summer really impacted me and I was beyond excited to be able to visit Gulu and see where these people lived and will hopefully return to soon. I’m excited to share more with you about my experiences in Gulu over the next few days.