– June 17 2019
Growing up during one of Africa’s longest wars: Sanyu’s story
Sanyu was born in a camp for internally displaced people in Gulu, Uganda, during the most violent years of the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency. Her parents were amongst the millions of Ugandan’s forced from their homes during three decades of war, which killed thousands of civilians and forced up to 100,000 children to become child soldiers.
Now thirteen years old, Sanyu has shared with us how growing up in a war-zone has shaped her life, and how with SOS support, she is finally able to dream of a better future.
“My earliest memories are of life in the camp. I remember it was easier to get food there because the aid agencies would help us, but then we were forced to leave.
We built ourselves a small house on land the Government said we could use, and we still live there. But it is just me, my mum, and my two younger brothers now. My father left when I was a little girl and I don’t know why. My mum always says I am too young to understand.
I have spent most of my life helping my mum weed other people’s farms for money. We couldn’t always earn enough to feed us all, so when we ran out of money I stopped going to school so that my younger brothers could go instead. I am the oldest, so I should take care of them.
I should be in grade seven by now, but because I have missed so much school I am only in grade four. But it is better now that my mum has joined the SOS programme. SOS is paying my school fees, so I can go to school every day, and I have the books I need too.
It means the burden is no longer too much for my mother, because she only needs to find enough money to pay for my brother’s school fees. And SOS are helping mum to earn more money, so I don’t have to work and can concentrate on my studies.
I am so happy now that I am back at school. I am really enjoying my studies. Science is my favourite subject, so I think I will be a doctor when I grow up. I would like that.”
Two million families like Sanyu’s were forced from their homes during the Ugandan conflict. Now that families are beginning to return to their hometowns, families urgently need our help as they work to rebuild a peaceful society.
We are helping children access education, healthcare, and trauma counselling, and are supporting families in crisis to increase their incomes, so they can better provide for their children.