As Real As It Gets

    The past couple of days have been the most real experiences I have ever witnessed in my life.  I can explain everything that I’ve witnessed to all of you, but you will never be able to understand and feel the emotions that I have felt unless you come here for yourself. 
    To start where I left off from last time, Sunday our group had the opportunity to attend mass in Lira where the Bishop of Uganda said the mass.  After mass we had the opportunity to interview him for our film and I must say that he is one interesting man.  Along with talking to the Bishop, we were able to visit a radio station that played a major role in getting the abducted children back from the rebels during the war.  This radio station had young children that escaped from the rebels come on the air and explain to the listeners/children that their families would not be mad at them or hurt them for what they did, they just wanted them home.  This radio station was heard by not only Lira, but the many communities that surround Lira as well.
    On Monday, our group had the opportunity to meet a woman by the name of Mama Angelina.  She is a very special woman to the people of Uganda because she started the CPA (Concerned Parents Association).  Mama Angelina told us her story of how her daughter Charlotte was abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and how she fought long and hard for not only Charlotte’s release, but the other girls that were abducted as well.  Her story was very touching and she is honestly the most compassionate and sincere person that I have ever had the opportunity to meet.  I have never seen a woman carry herself the way that she does. 
    Tuesday was the hardest day for me emotionally thus far.  On this day, we went to two former refugee camps that were the sites of two different massacres during the war.  Words can’t describe how I felt when entering these camp sites because no matter how hard I try, you will never be able to understand.  The people that I saw were not like anyone else that I have ever seen in my life.  The faces and people that I saw will always be embedded in my mind because no matter what happens in my life, I will never be able to forget them.  They have gone through so much in the past 20 or so years and are still hanging on my their last thread of hope. 
    I witnessed first hand how desperate these individuals are on Tuesday.  We brought some items from the States to share with these members of the camps such as soccer balls, school supplies, shirts, etc. We thought that it would have been a good idea for us to hand what we had brought to the people ourselves.  However, the happy ending that we had in mind quickly faded.  Once the people at the camp site saw that we had brought gifts, the went from being happy and smiling with each other to nearly killing each other over nothing more than a stuffed animal. When this was happening, I was in the middle of the group by the gifts.  Fear is something that I thought I had felt before, but until that moment in time, I had no idea what fear actually was. 
    At the second refugee camp, there was a man that I will forever remember.  He was an older man who told his story of how the LRA came and killed his family on the night of one of the ambushes.  This man had the saddest looking eyes I have ever seen in my life.  He looked as if he was barely holding on, yet he was dressed in his finest with a tie and suit coat on. He sat right in front of me and told his story to us and after he was finished we made eye contact for a couple of seconds.  Those seconds felt like hours and I wish I could have done something; anything to help him and his family out. 
    As hard as these past couple days have been, I have to say that I’m grateful for what I have witnessed because this is what I wanted to see when I decided to come here.  I didn’t want to be another tourist coming to Africa, I wanted to see the real Africa; the Africa that people only hear about and then act like nothing is wrong with the situation.  The people and places that I have seen thus far have made a permanent indent in my life and I will always be thinking about them.  I now know that I can’t “sweat the small stuff” because failing a test or not being able to afford a new pair of $100 jeans is nothing compared to what these individuals have to go through every day of their lives.


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