WAPA, War-Affected People's Association, is a belgian NGO who fights for the reintegration of former child soldiers and for the strengthening of communities in post-conflict countries.
I was commissioned to document one of their follow-up mission in Uganda.
Led by Joseph Kony, the Lord's Resistance Army is a murderous cult that has been fighting the Ugandan government and terrorizing civilians during Africa's longest running conflict.
Nearly two million people have been displaced, thousands of people killed in massacres and ten thousands of children have been abducted by the LRA, forced to work as soldiers, porters and sex slaves, often making them kill their own parents so they had no home to escape back to.
During our visit, I interviewed some of them.
Kevin was abducted ten years ago by the rebels, together with her husband and new born baby. As it happened generally, they were forced to loot villages and carry goods. Her husband was given a package that was too heavy and he was unable to lift it, he was immediately killed in front of Kevin. Her baby started to cry, so he was killed too.
How can someone bare with this? Are we even capable of understanding the magnitude of her words?
The following humans are all former child soldiers. They have been abducted by the LRA during Uganda's civil war and lived in the bush, serving as slaves for several months or years. One of them explained how he was forced to beat another prisoner to death because he tried to escape.
Today these victims part of a traditional dance group that aims to help them heal their psychological wounds.
Godfrey (17), Geoffrey (14), Francis (15) and Moses (not pictured) are 4 brothers who's parents have been captured by the rebels 10 years ago and have never been seen again.
The orphan brothers live ever since with their grand mother and although none of them have been abducted, they are equally victims of this forgotten conflict.
All of them, grand mother included, are part of the traditional dance group created by and for war affected people.
Healthcare for everyone
WAPA's efforts to help local communities are divided into different lines of actions; one of them is healthcare, with a special focus on maternity.
Molly was abducted by the LRA when she was 13 years old. She'll go through three years of hell, living in the bush as a soldier and sexual slave. Pregnant of one of her torturer she escapes during a combat and get saved by the governemental army but discovers herself HIV positive.
14 years later, She now benefits from WAPA support to develop her income generating activity as well as the follow-up of her health condition. Her daughter was born HIV negative.
A future through education
Children of former child soldiers, very young mothers and orphans who have become heads of households are supported by WAPA through school equipment, scholarships, books & uniforms, the kindergarten AGAPE,...
In a country weakened by 30 years of a forgotten civil war and where many families in rural areas have not enough income to have more than one meal per day, education is the only hope for a better future.
Unfortunately, even primary school is not free which makes the work of ong's like WAPA International even more important.
Only 9€ / month is needed to provide one kid with education for an entire year.
School, even elementary, is not free in Uganda. Many families cannot afford education for all of their children and are forced to make the difficult choice about who to send.
This might explain why I found all the students we met to be respectful and disciplined. They were appreciating the true value of education.
Another way WAPA is contributing to give access to education to the community is by building a new school: the kindergarten AGAPE.
Molly's house is made of 3 traditional huts. One is for the kitchen only, because of the smoke. The other is for the living room and sleeping room. The last one is for visitors. The roof made of special branches provides a natural protection against the heat.
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