Story of a War Survivor
This is Jaclyn Collins, reporting back in on behalf of the Medical Missions team. Throughout the week a man named Edward has served as one of our group’s drivers. During transport, I was able to hear Edward’s personal story. Although it is horrifying, it is moving, and I hope it inspires others to tell people about the resilient people of Uganda and Medical Missions Foundation’s work here.
Abducted by the LRA
Edward is now a middle-aged man, though he reminisces back to his years as a young college student as we talk. At just 22 years old, Edward takes me back to when he was walking home from the University. He said he had an odd feeling, he felt like something was wrong as if people were watching him. Continuing to walk home, Edward was jumped by two soldiers who were part of the Lord’s Resistance Army, also known as the LRA. The men were shirtless with weapons slung across their backs. For a moment, Edward was able to escape from the strange hostile men. He said, “I ran and I ran as fast as I could into the University, screaming to warn the others that there was a rebel attack.” Yet, as fast as Edward ran, it was not fast enough. The two soldiers caught him once again, this time blindfolding him and taking him back to their camp.
It was Time to Escape
For two years, Edward served in the LRA, following orders just to survive. At one point he almost had his lips cut off, but surrendered just in time. After two grueling years, Edward and others he knew were yearning for an opportunity to escape the madness they had been forced to become a part of. One day, when his eight-man squad had to go out on a mission, seven of the men agreed that they would escape from the LRA and never return. Unfortunately there was one squad-member who did not agree, which of course caused quite a disgruntlement amongst the group. In fact, the opposing member shot two of the soldiers trying to flee, but he was ultimately shot and killed also. Before the men were very far three lives had already been lost, and another life was lost later from a snakebite.
It took the four surviving men two months of traveling by foot and sleeping in the wild to reach a town where they could seek help. When they saw a woman pumping at a well, they finally came out of hiding and pleaded with her. They begged her to help them by taking them to the government so that they could explain that they had escaped from the LRA. Unfortunately, the crimes against humanity which they had experienced were not yet over. The government did not believe their story, and tried to get every truth out of them by beating them horribly. Edward said, “We were beaten so badly.” Finally, Edward shouted his brother’s name whom happened to be a Colonel in the military. And at that very point, the beatings stopped. Their journey home was almost over. Once accepted back into the community, the men were helped by an organization to help them face the emotional nightmares they had experienced.
Edward’s story signifies his resiliency. And although the war is long over in Uganda, many people are still affected by the mental and physical trauma. While at Lacor Hospital Edward said, “You can tell which injuries were caused by members of the LRA.”
Edward’s story is an inspiration for all. His ability to pull himself out of a traumatic environment, risk his life to escape, and make a better life for he and his family is commendable. Yet despite his drive and ambition, our team realized that his family was still in desperate need of medical care.
MMF Gives Back
During Edward’s time with our team, the MMF clinic volunteers were able to treat his son for a skin abnormality and he was provided with a prescription to take home. Often the children at school would make fun of Edward’s son, so he had pulled him out of school so he would no longer get tormented by his peers.
Edward and his son both hope that the medicine will help reduce the skin irritation over time so that he can return back to school. Edward was also looked at by our medical team, as he has visible cysts on the back of his head. Edward has not only inspired us, but Medical Missions Foundation’s impact on Edward’s life has inspired him to continue paying it forward.