Uganda (MNN) — The Ugandan government along with the rebel
Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) this week agreed to set up a special war crimes
court in Uganda to address the most serious offenses committed by the rebels
during the country's 22-year civil war.
Since the ceasefire went into effect in 2006, the internally
displaced people (IDPs) of northern Uganda have seen improvements in their
living conditions. Thousands have been
able to move closer to their villages, many of which were completely
destroyed. The slow rebuild has
Attacks against civilians and abductions of child soldiers
are becoming a memory, which is increasing the confidence in safety. But the scars of the past can still be seen.
Just over a decade ago, the LRA began abducting children as
young as 7 or 8 years old. Food for
the Hungry quotes statistics estimating that more than 80 percent of the LRA
members are children.
The rebel group
forced these children to fight and used many of the girls as "wives." As a result, many of these girls were
horribly abused, and many bore children.
Some of these girls escaped, only to face rejection and
discrimination in their own communities.
Food for the Hungry's Greg Forney says that's why
the "New Life Center" was founded–a four-month
residential holistic rehabilitation program for these former "soldiers" who are now child-mothers, and their
children. "It's a safe compound
that's protected and fenced off, because many of these women really are on the
brink of suicide. They're very fearful. It provides them a refuge. Generally, we work with 20 to 30 women at a time and really handle the
physical side of things, in terms of skills training."
Forney says their team also concentrates on spiritual
healing for these survivors. "It
offers very intense biblical counseling, where they walk through the trauma
and ordeal of what they've experienced, from a point where they can actually ask forgiveness [for what they were forced to do]. Many of these women come to Christ during this time and
literally do have a 'new life' by the time they're able to go on and
assimilate into their communities."
The first group of women and their children arrived two
years ago. As the landscape
changes and the IDPs begin to rebuild their lives, God's faithfulness is
evident. The team is overjoyed to witness what the Lord
will do and is doing through the New Life Center and all the programs Food for
the Hungry is blessed to carry out in Northern Uganda. Click here if you want more information on
the center or you want to help this ministry.