One of our contributors is currently in Uganda doing some great work in one of the nation’s northern provinces. Here’s his take on the nation’s development progress…
By: Jordan Bland
The whole of Africa is developing incredibly quickly. Creativity and growth can be seen in virtually every aspect of society. One region worth giving special attention to is northern Uganda. Fewer than fifteen years ago, war was at its peak, and the Lord’s Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, had complete control of northern Uganda.
At that time, children were abducted by the LRA, and the boys would be trained as child soldiers while the girls were used as either soldiers or, most often, sex slaves. These children would be abducted, starved, trained for two weeks on how to become a soldier, and then sent to the front lines of battle. When a child would do something noteworthy, whether it be killing an enemy soldier or reporting rumors of planned escapes by abducted citizens-turned-soldiers, they would be rewarded with food.
This resulted in once innocent children becoming increasingly willing, and even zealous for the chance to kill or report rumors, knowing the result would be a full belly.
When the LRA were finally forced to lay down their arms less than ten years ago, the population of northern Uganda consisted largely of traumatized, uneducated young adults. Despite this fact, the progress that has been made is astounding. Most of the former LRA rebels were given amnesty, and they now have shops and goods that can sustain their families. Many places in the region also practice wage equality for women.
The greatest example of progress, though, is seen in education. This most recent generation of children are excelling far beyond what their parents were able to achieve academically. Most of the young parents in northern Uganda never went beyond third grade, but now it is common to see children complete both their primary and secondary education. And the greatest champions of the children’s education are the parents. They have seen firsthand what a lack of education can lead to, so they push their children further and further in the education system.
Furthermore, in the recent past, many Western educators have come to visit northern Uganda, offering seminars and practical training in hopes of seeing the region rise higher than ever before. For example, just one week ago, there was a visiting professor from Baylor University offering a course in management, finance, and entrepreneurship. One of the adults attending the lectures spoke with the professor and told him, “I am old and unable to read, but I will teach everything you have told me to my son so that he may do the things you are saying.”
This is foresight. This is initiative. This is development,