Saturday, February 11, 2012

At 13 Years Old, I Decided I Had to Leave

Concy, Age 16

The LRA [Lord’s Resistance Army] killed my parents when I was seven. My father was a simsim farmer. He used to sell his harvest for good money. Someone told the LRA that he was a man with good profits, so one day, they came to our homestead. The militants demanded our money and my father gave it to them. They said they wanted more, but there was no more. The last I saw of my parents was both of them being taken into the bush by soldiers. There, they killed them.

For some time, I was taken care of by my grandmother. When she passed away, I was sent to live with my father’s sister. My auntie was burdened with many children of her own and did not have the ability to care for me. She used me mostly for labor. For a while, we were living in a [internally displaced people] camp. Whenever there was a need to collect food, she would send me, knowing that it was very dangerous. There were times that I would see the militia on the road to our family’s plot. I would hide when I spotted them, but I was always so afraid they would find me.

Once we left the camp, the discrimination didn’t stop. The other children in the household went to school and would receive clothes, and I received nothing. I would be given the leftovers of the food the others ate--which was very little--and had to eat alone while the others ate together.

At 13 years old, I decided I had to leave. I planned to find myself a husband to support me.

I found a young man who was 16 and agreed to live with me. He was formerly abducted and lost both of his parents as well. He has given me two children already, but one died.

When my uncle came to collect the dowry [to make our marriage official], my boyfriend’s family refused, so we are still not married.

My boyfriend received vocational training as a driver [from a reintegration center catering to formerly abducted youth], but hasn’t been able to find employment. We tend our own plot, but the food is often not enough to feed our family. We also work in others’ gardens to help us make a little extra money for things like medical expenses.

The Peace Club has helped us a lot in times of difficulty. They have provided me with counseling when I needed it. I also enjoy participating in the dance and drama activities as a way to relieve stress. The Club has also given my family small amounts of money when we are faced with an urgent need, like my child’s medical expenses. They are like family to me, which I do not have.

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