UGANDA'S
war affected people

PHOTOGRAPHY

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. 

Truth is the first victim of war.

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.

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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.

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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.

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The grand mother of Geoffrey, Francis, Godfrey and Moses plays a leading role in the traditional dance group created by and for war affected people.

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The tiny hamlet of northern Uganda where war affected people gather to dance together.

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SUNSET IN GULU, UGANDA. THE ACHOLI PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THROUGH TWO DECADES OF HORROR BUT THEY KEEP MOVING FORWARD. ©Jean-Marc Joseph

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.

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A pregnant woman is awaiting the doctor while suffering contractions at Unyama maternity clinic, Uganda.

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A cradle at the MATERNITY OF Unyama

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Maternity of Unyama, Northern Uganda

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MOLLY DOING HER HIV CHECK-UP (VIDEO STILL FRAME)

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.   

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BEDS AT THE AGONGA MEDICAL CENTER

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THE TEAM OF WAPA MEETS THE MEDICAL STAFF OF Agonga MEDICAL CENTER

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Unyama maternity, gulu, uganda

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A new born baby at Unyama maternity

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WALL PAINTING AT Agonga MEDICAL CENTER

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WAPA entirely financed the construction of the Unyama maternity clinic through fundraising activities organized by 50 Belgian women.

Building on that success, a second unit is currently under construction at the Agonga Medical Center.  

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,...

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The Head of Teachers of Bungatira Primary School, near Gulu, Uganda.

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. 

"For those who have nothing and do not take anything for granted, education is perceived as a luxury, a key to get out of poverty."

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Bungatira school, Northern Uganda.

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An old car rim and a stone is all it takes to make a bell on the playground of Bungatira Primary School, Uganda .

Ungatira Primary School playground, Uganda.

Ungatira Primary School playground, Gulu, Uganda.

"Only 9€ / month is needed to provide one kid with education for an entire year."

– Veronique Cranenbrouck, co-founder of WAPA International

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abandonned classroom at Bungatira elementary school.

Another way WAPA is contributing to give access to education to the community is by building a new school: the kindergarten AGAPE.

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A LOCAL WORKER IS SETTING UP THE FOUNDATION OF THE FUTURE SCHOOL FINANCED BY WAPA

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A WORKER IS DIGGING THE WELL OF THE FUTURE KINDERGARTEN.

Wrong Order

PAINTED ADVERTISING SIGN IN GULU, UGANDA

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- Man, I need to transport a sofa and I don't have a car. - Hold my beer...

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A Sofa on a motorbike is not uncommon in Gulu, Uganda.

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Water tanks for sale on the side of the road connecting the capital Ampala with the northern town of Gulu, Uganda. Many people with no access to running water rely on those to bring fresh water to their home, very often, using bicycle or by foot.

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GULU CITY CENTER, UGANDA

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An entire family is circulating on a single motorcycle. Uganda's resourceful life style.

Street vendor, near Gulu, Uganda

Street vendor, near Gulu, Uganda

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FRAGILE, HANDLE WITH CARE

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The road that connects the capital Ampala, to the northern town of Gulu, Uganda, is extremely busy and chaotic. On THE ROAD SIDE, a parallel world UNFOLDS, with its own codes and inhabitants .

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MOLLY'S HOUSE

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.

"The house has no running water, neither electricity with the exception of a light bulb connected to a solar panel in the living room."

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Molly uses the roof in a creative way to get her things organized.

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In the reduced space of a traditional Ugandan hut, shoe storage might not be where you expect. .

Molly’s kitchen, Gulu, Uganda .

Molly's wood burning cookstove in her kitchen hut.

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Moses, the youngest girl of Molly, at the door of the kitchen. Molly cannot afford to send her 5 kids to school. For the moment, only one is able to get education thanks to the aid provided by Belgian ONG, WAPA.

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A NEIGHBOUR of molly carries chickens on his rear view mirrors

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Molly's pigs. In Ouganda, so many people are vegetarians by force as meat is too expensive. .

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Hand washing ritual before eating at Molly's hut.

Despite having limited ressources, Molly's hospitality was limitless. She killed one of her chicken to celebrate our visit.

Usually, Molly and her family eat only ones a day, and meat is reserved for important occasions. 

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Molly working in the field with her daughter Olive and her cousin Judith. . Widow and ex child soldier, mother of 5, Molly is fighting to offer a future to her children.

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MANY ROADS IN GULU ARE STILL UNPAVED AND DUST CREATES A MAGIC ATMOSPHERE AT SUNSET.

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gulu central market

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gulu central market

Gulu local market, Uganda.

A boucher at Gulu local market, Uganda.

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supermarket, gulu, uganda

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TWILIGHT IN Gulu'S CITY CENTER

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GULU AFTER SUNSET IS NOTHING BUT DUST, HEAT AND A FRENETIC BALLET OF MOTORCYCLES. ©Jean-Marc Joseph

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If you have been touched by the story above, you can help WAPA International to pursue their actions in Uganda, but also Colombia and Sri Lanka. 
CLICK HERE TO DONATE 

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Phone: +34 679 75 56 40
Email: jm@superjeanmarc.com