Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Bombs ripped apart the Ethiopian Village Restaurant, a nightspot popular with foreign visitors, and the Lugogo Rugby club. 76 people died. Many more were injured.
Responsibility for the attacks was quickly claimed by al-Shabaab, a fundamentalist Islamist group based in the troubled country of Somalia where Uganda, as part of the African Union, has sent peacekeeping troops. Al-Shabaab wants to see the withdrawal of these troops.
The group, which claims links to al-Qaeda, takes its name from the Arabic for “young men”. It has proved itself vicious and deadly before – in Somalia itself, members of the group have attacked the minority Christian population, destroying their businesses and killing them, even beheading them. They have been increasingly active, but this is their deadliest attack so far outside Somalia, and by attacking Uganda, they have hit a country with troubles enough of its own.
Although Uganda is the third largest economy in Africa, there is still much poverty and hardship amongst the people. Families struggle to make ends meet, and children are unable to go to school. For some, it is worse than plain poverty, with children at risk of abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This “Christian” group has proved itself just as vicious as al-Shabaab, with crimes including child slavery and mass murder. Some children as young as eight years old are forced by them to become fighters and killers, others are sold for the sex trade.
World In Need works in Uganda. In the north, the area most affected by the LRA, our leader is George Amoli. A clergyman and farmer, George visits displacement camps, gives pastoral support to the people and runs our child sponsorship programme. The welfare and healing needs of children rescued from the LRA is close to his heart, and he has actually adopted eight such children himself. He is in the process of finding funds to set up a farm, which will provide an income enabling him to build a school and orphanage, so even more children can be helped, and so the project can become self-sustaining.
In the south, we have John Kukiriza. He is a pastor, running a church near Kampala, and also runs a child sponsorship programme for us. He currently ministers to nineteen children who have been sponsored by WIN supporters.
WIN’s dream for the children of Uganda is that they should grow up in a safe and nurturing environment, where their basic needs are met and they are able to fulfil their full potential. Poverty, civil war and vicious groups like the LRA and al-Shabaab make the job harder, but thanks to men like George and John, these things will be overcome and the dream become reality.
If you’d like to know more about our work in Uganda, the difference it makes and the many ways in which you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org