Yearly Archives: 2011

Eagerly awaiting the premiere of ‘Mato Oput’

It’s been three months since our trip to Uganda, that amazing, overwhelming journey. I think of the trip, the work and the people often, both my wonderful colleagues and terrific students from Creighton and the people we met there. I am a different person because of the journey.

The memories will come back on 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, when we premiere “Mato Oput” for an audience of our friends and others at Criss 252 at Creighton. I am excited for everyone to see our work and slightly nervous (OK, really nervous) about their reaction.

We also are collecting donations for Ocer Campion Jesuit Secondary School, a wonderful school run by Father Tony Wach, S.J. We met Father Tony and interviewed students and teachers there for our film. We are so impressed the work of Father Tony and everyone at Ocer. 

Come, if you can. We have entered the film in several film festivals and we’ll keep you updated on the latest. We hope eventually to have the film online.

 

 

 

Mato Oput

Mato Oput, Reconciliation and Justice. These are the terms we were asked to define and discuss in our latest blog post.

Justice, a word that often brings to mind truth, honesty, and fairness. To me, justice is more than that. Justice is the answer to those bracelets everyone gets as children from the church, the W.W.J.D. bracelets. Jesus was a man who lived to define what justice was. He was the defender of the poor, the sinners, and the shunned.

When I think of how to best define justice, my mind drifts toward the people that I have seen who have lived through the injustices of the world. Those who are neglected, forgotten, broken, hurt, those whose cries are not heard, those are the people that come to mind when I think of justice, because justice seems to have passed them by.

Not because of anything they did, but because of the cruelty of the world, the hardships of the world that most of us have no idea of. The hunger pangs that come after not having eaten in several days, the pain of backbreaking labor in the hot sun to barely slide by each day.

Justice is the equality and calmness in life that we all take for granted. The clothes on our back, the shoes on our feet, the medicine that keeps us healthy, and the opportunity to succeed in life. That is what justice means to me, not the truth, not honesty, but fairness and peacefulness and the opportunity for a non-violent life.

Those are the things that we all take for granted but even when we don’t, we often forget that there are very few who live a life without worrying about many of those things. 

 

Forgiveness.

After out trip to Uganda I have thought a lot about what forgiveness truly means. I have decided that the best definition of forgiveness is when you let go of the past in order to be able to move on to a better future. 

Mama Angelina was an example of this and so many others were also. It was so common to see and hear form people who were holding on to the past and consequently struggling even more to move forward. It was the people like Mama Angelina that found a way to forgive that were able to move on.

Letting go of the past is in no way an easy task. Especially for the people affected by the civil war in Uganda. However, if I learned anything from this trip it is that forgiveness is necessary and without it you can be stuck forever. 

What is…?

We have been trying to uncover the definition of these words throughout our entire trip.

PEACE:

Peace is when one can live in their home or town or country and feel safe. They can be at ease because they know that they are secure and protected.

Peace is when one is happy and content with the life they are living. They are satisfied with what they are doing and are doing the best they can. 

JUSTICE:

Justice is when one recognizes that what they did was wrong and they do everything in their power to make it right again.

Justice is NOT seeking revenge.

RECONCILIATION:

Reconciliation is when two parties can come together peacefully and put the past behind them.

Reconciliation is being able to move one and start fresh.

FORGIVENESS:

Forgiveness is truely accepting what has happened and not holding a grudge against anyone or anything.

Forgiveness is realizing that things happen, and we cannot dwell on the past.

 

How can we ask God to forgive if we don’t forgive?

The strongest lesson I learned while in Uganda is what forgiveness truly is and why we need to do it. Mama Angelina put it best while sitting on a mat in the middle of the pouring rain under a mango tree in rural Uganda. She asked, how we can expect God to forgive us if we can’t forgive others? We all want God’s forgiveness because we are sinners, however, we are frequently unable to forgive others.

Every grudge I had ever held seemed so minute in comparison to the atrocities committed by the LRA towards the people of northern Uganda. Although not everyone found forgiveness to be possible, many said they had already forgiven or could see forgiveness as possible someday. This was unfathomable to me. I came home from Uganda and mended broken relationships because I have to forgive before I can expect God to forgive me.

Additionally, Mama Angelina pointed out that without forgiveness we cannot know peace. Although we in the United States know peace much better than those in northern Uganda, we all have known inner turmoil of some degree. We cannot move forward without first forgiving. This was a common theme with many we spoke to in Uganda. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the only ways to peace.

Forgiveness is possible

Forgiveness has been a very difficult thing for me recently. Actually, at times it has seemed nearly impossible.  How do you forgive someone who has hurt you so badly when you would never do the same thing to them?

While in Uganda, I was blown away by the people’s ability to forgive. Parent’s whose children were taken away from them by the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) choose to forgive Joseph Kony (the rebel leader) because they believed that was the only they would ever find peace.

I’m pretty sure I talked about Mama Angelina in one of my previous blogs but her story is a prime example of this kind of forgiveness. Her daughter was one of 149 girls taken from Saint Mary’s Boarding School by the LRA many years ago. 119 of the girls were returned in just a few days but Mama Angelina’s daughter, Charolotte, was not one of them. Mama Angelina spoke out against the rebels for a long while until they finally tried to make a deal with her: they would give her Charolotte back if she kept her mouth shut. Knowing that this problem was so much bigger than just her and her daughter and not wanting to betray other parents, she declined the offer and kept speaking out. Mama Angelina didn’t see her daughter for seven years and seven months, but Charolotte along with 29 other girls were eventually returned.

While Mama Angelina could have forever hated the rebels, in her eyes that wouldn’t have solved anything. When we interviewed her she explained that without forgiveness there would never be peace and that without peace happiness is basically impossible. 

I learned a lot from Mama Angelina and all of the Ugandans we spoke to. If they can forgive Kony and the rebels for all of the hurt caused to them, how can I not forgive for much smaller wrongs done towards me?

  

What is peace?

Peace.

What is it?

This is what I struggled with while we were in the country. How on earth were these people able to forgive the rebels for what they did?! Are they JOKING?! I’d never ever forgive someone if they had made me watch someone murder someone I loved. If I had been abducted, I would never be able to stop holding a grudge.

 

And yet, I watched and listened to almost every person we talked to as they said, “I have forgiven them.”

It still gives me chills. 

I have learned what peace is. Peace is being able, no matter what, to see the good side of something. To not get stressed out over something, no matter how major this is.  These people are the definition of an optimist. They believe in the good of a person, of anything, even when they cannot see it. They live life day to day, and know that no matter what they do, tomorrow will be different; tomorrow will be better.

They have taught me to try to be more at peace with myself, because there cannot be peace in a world when people don’t have peace with themselves.

 

Peace be with you.

First World Problems.

We’re done.

 

Well, almost.

I still have the paper to write, and the final to do. So actually, I’m not nearly done.

I sat here, trying to find motivation to write my paper, and thought to myself “Ugh. This SUCKS. I don’t want to write a paper. I want it to be SUMMER. Hasn’t this class required enough of me?! I’m ready to go to the beach!”

Then I stopped.

REALLY, Marybeth?! Have you learned NOTHING over this five-week course?! I’m annoyed about having to write an eight page paper, while some people would give anything to get an education. Wow. Makes it seem minimal to write a paper, huh.

 

I’ve been blessed. I’ve been given so much for which I am not grateful for. If I take anything away from this class, I really hope that I remember the faces. I hope that I can think of the people I have met when I went there. I hope that this experience stays with me forever. 

I am blessed to be a witness.

It’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later.

Alright, so it’s been a long two weeks to say the least. Besides dealing with the shock of re-adjusting to the American way of life, we’ve spent close to 5 hours per day editing and putting together all of the footage we shot. As surprising as it sounds, sitting in front of a computer screen for that long can really wear you out.
 
Throughout this experience, I’ve learned that I’m not the greatest at video editing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun & interesting, I just often feel like I don’t measure up compared to some of the other students.
 
So instead of editing film, I’ve spent my time blogging, working on our papers that are due Tuesday, & helping with random odd jobs, just so I don’t feel completely useless.
 
With the last day of class finally upon us, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit sad to say goodbye. We’ve spent the past five weeks together & I’ve gotten to know everyone so well. I mean, it’s kind of hard not to when you’ve been through the stuff we’ve been through. Between all of the inside jokes (“Peace is the fruit!”) and recapping of crazy events (the boarding pass incident), it’s safe to say I’m going to miss everyone a ton.
 
That being said, I’m also very excited to start my summer. However, while I’m enjoying laying out by the pool, going to baseball games, & hanging out with friends, I’m always going to keep the people of Uganda in the back of my mind.
 
It would be impossible not to. 

The Last Hurrah

I was looking at some quotes online to answer the question “what is peace/justice?” I found a great one from Harrison Ford, which is awesome because I love Harrison Ford. (When I was little, I would run around my neighborhood pretending to be Indiana Jones and Han Solo…and also Macgyver, but that’s another story) So, when I came across this quote and realized that it was perfect for the topic, I was giddy.

“Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.” 

This quote is perfect to me. As bad as every Miss America contestant wants it, I believe “world peace” is unattainable. The world will always have war within it. Even though it is sad to thing about it but it is true. But the world can find peace through justice. Africa is the perfect example of this. Nearly everyone we talked to in Uganda said peace cannot be attained without justice. 

According to a dictionary justice means to be fair or reasonable. This definition basically sums it up perfectly. However, justice should not stop there. Justice also means more than that. It is not just a one time thing. Justice must be carried out everyday, all the time. Especially in Africa.

If you asked me if I thought Uganda was a just place prior to my visit I would have said yes. According to all the travel sites and webpages I had read, Uganda seemed like a fantastic place. But now that I have seen what I have seen, I believe Uganda is far from that. It still was a great place, I loved all the people I met. But it is far from a just place. The government is very corrupt and nearly all the money stays in the south. I know there are needy people everywhere but the people of the north need all the help they can and should get. They deserve it.

To them peace would be not having to live in fear everyday or not worrying if their children will be taken in the middle of the night or being able to provide their family with food and shelter. But that peace cannot be attained without JUSTICE.  

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. Africa was incredible and I will never forget any part of it. Thank you for reading and I also thank you for putting up with my lame sense of humor and bad jokes. Once again, my classmates had some great blogs and you should check them out. And I know you all want one more Dumb and Dumber link so here it is.  Haha got ya. 

Yours Truly

Matthew W. Dorwart

PS You can’t triple stamp a double stamp