Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Entry From Patrick

A piece my husband wrote about the recent clashes with citizens and the government in Uganda


It's hardly two months since our all wise President, Mr. Museveni, was in the media criticizing the US, Canada, UK, France, etal for militarily intervening in Libya. According to our President, the west should have engaged in dialogue with the embattled Libyan leader, Ghadafi. He reasoned that the west was being simplistic in addressing the situation in Libya and were using the approach of 'might is right' that is wrong according to him.

For about two weeks now, several Ugandans have mobilized for walk to work protests in protest of skyrocketing fuel and food prices in the country. Currently, fuel and food prices have doubled and beyond and inflation has doubled from 6% in February 2011 to above 11% this month. All this resulted from corruption, careless Government spending on activities that are not people oriented such as the recent expenditure of over 740 million US dollars to buy fighter jets from Russia God knows to fight who!, financing activities meant to develop the stomachs and cheeks of the ruling individuals and their relatives, emptying of the national treasury to finance the recent elections (vote buying), high taxation and to a small extent the global economic factors.

Many Ugandans can hardly now afford a meal and other basic essentials hence the attempt to walk to work in protest of the economic situation in the hope to draw Government's attention to their suffering. Our 'wise' President's response has been tear gassing, beating up, shooting and arresting of people participating peacefully in the walk to work protests. So far 4 people are confirmed dead and over 47 injured from gun shots, while close to 300 have been arrested and jailed for attempting to walk to work.

I am left wondering why the contradiction. I thought in the wisdom of our president he would have engaged the nation in dialogue instead of the 'Might is right' approach he criticized the west for.

A while ago, I remember watching a video of the swearing in ceremony of our President in 1986 when he had just taken power, of course by the gun. Our dear president was on record for saying, 'the problem with African leaders is overstaying in power' and that he was ushering in a new era, 'a fundamental change.' We are now in the 25th year of Museveni's presidency and will be in the 30th year come 2016. This follows several manipulations of the constitution to extend his stay in power, stolen and sham elections. What became of the promised fundamental change?

In the early days of his presidency, the good president openly criticized the previous governments for being extravagant with tax payer's money and non responsive to needs of Ugandans. A while a go, among many examples, the president sent one of his daughters to give birth in Germany in a presidential jet, costing the tax payer several millions. For the size of our economy, that was quite a pinch. Interestingly, that money could have improved facilities in any of our rotten hospitals to the comfort of the first daughter and would be available to serve many other Ugandan mothers that keep dying or cheating death (for the lucky) due to inadequacies in our maternity services.

What happened to the big heart, the heart for the nation.

I see many contradictions in our President, what happened? Who is this man? I am tempted to think, if Museveni of back then, by any chance happened to meet Museveni of today, he would beat the hell out of this one, that's only of course if the former Museveni was not fooling Ugandans about his character.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

'War Dance'

It took me about 2 weeks to actually finish this documentary. I watched the first half and had to stop, it was too much. I finally finished it tonight. It ended on a much more positive note, not that my comfort should matter in this case. Oh God! I don't know. Lately I don't know what I should be writing here. I feel so mixed up. I listen to these kids stories, I cry. I wish I could wrap my arms around all of them.

The children in this film are from a place called Pader in Northern Uganda. They are from a tribe called Acholi. Some of my fellow staff members who I worked with at YWAM Arua, were Acholi. One close friend of mine, told me her story of being abducted by the LRA and how she escaped.

Our Ang Tulay team from the Philippines went to Pader in 2006, long before I had even met them, to meet with the youth. They could only manage to just start the healing process before realizing these youth were so traumatized, they needed to proceed with caution. As it was only a short visit, they decided not to proceed with any more of the process at that point until there could be more resources and people trained to walk with them.

When I participated in my first Ang Tulay, two staff members from one of the schools in Pader were part of my small group. It was intense. Even these adults, had not yet processed the grief and trauma of growing up themselves in a war zone.

I was meant to go to Pader with a group of young adults in 2009. I really wanted to go, but felt I needed to stay back to organize the closing of the three week camp they were part of. Interestingly enough, that's when Patrick and I met and hit it off and began our journey. Had I not met and fallen for Patrick, I might never have returned to Uganda. I was ready to quit Uganda for good. Huh...guess God had other plans...

So, that's the teeny tiny way my life has interacted with the lives of Northern Ugandans. So, I keep wondering...yah, I just keep wondering...

And look at how music, dance, the ARTS bring healing! It is beautiful and profound and I want to continue to walk that path with people. Hell, I want to walk that path with myself!