Today: Mar 03, 2024

Ex-child slave aims for peace and justice

CHARDONEE’ WRIGHTStaff Writer
As usual I was browsing CNN’s website and plastered on the homepage was a huge picture of an African-American woman with a disfigured face.  She wore a blue shirt with a checkered red-and-white-collared shirt underneath.  Her lips and cheeks were swollen, and she barely had an upper lip.  Blown away by this image, I read the headline which said, “Ugandan woman recalls harrowing tale of captivity.”  This 22-year-old woman’s name is Evelyn Apoko, and she is an ex-child slave from Uganda who survived captivity and is telling the horrid and vivid details of her life.
Back in 2001, Apoko was kidnapped from a community center near her home by a group named the Lord’s Resistance Army.  While in their care, she was beaten and tortured for years while being forced to work for the LRA.  Apoko is one of thousands of children who fall victim to this captivity.  According to globalsecurity.org, the Lord’s Resistance Army is led by a man named Joseph Kony.  Kony was born in northern Uganda in a village called Odek.  Kony believes he is a prophet sent by God to help purify the people of Uganda.  He founded the Uganda Christian Democratic Army, which eventually was renamed to the Lord’s Resistance Army.  The LRA has committed many atrocities to the people of Uganda, including inhumane acts against children.  They have raped, abducted, tortured and beaten children and have turned them into concubines, soldiers and slavery.  As many as 6,000 children have been captured, and sometimes had to assist in the killing of other children. Kony is also wanted by the International Criminal Courts for his atrocities.
As I continued to read the article, I was distraught to find out that Apoko’s face was disfigured when she was caught in the crossfire of a bomb that went off behind her.  One day, the Ugandan and Conglese armies bombed the LRA’s territory, and Apoko’s backpack caught on fire.  In the midst of this tragic occurrence, Apoko was holding an infant in her arms, who died, and Apoko had to leave the child behind.  When the bomb went off, it shattered her teeth, ripped through her skin and the injuries caused disfiguration to her face.  The LRA found her, snapped photos of her in order to send them to the leadership and figure out whether she was worth keeping.  She survived the injuries but was refused treatment by the LRA.  Apoko suffered infections throughout her body from her wounds.  She was left without a mouth and jaw and one day, decided to run away from this life.
As a Christian, I was boggled by this article.  Biblical principles of Christianity revolve around love for all men and women, unity, kindness, gentleness, and I could not comprehend why the name “Lord”  is even attached to such a horrendous group of people.  These acts of violence are inhumane and disgusting.  Recently, headlines surrounding Apoko’s story are causing controversy.  Apoko recorded a message which addressed a radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, about his criticism toward the President’s actions.  President Obama sent 100 U.S. military advisers to the Central African Republic to hunt down LRA members, and Limbaugh does not agree with his actions.  This hit home for Apoko, as she described in her interview with CNN, how passionate she is about having the leaders in LRA captured.  I agree with Apoko.  Kony and the LRA needs to be stopped.  I commend her for publicly speaking out against this leadership group.  Apoko currently resides in the United States as she is receiving treatment and shelter for her injuries.  In the future, Apoko wants to create a documentary which will expose the truth about ex-child slaves and to help bring peace to children who have suffered this torture.  I will continue to follow this story to see how it all unfolds.  I hope Limbaugh really takes her message into consideration, and I am curious as to what his response will be.

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