Far too often, a story of significant tragedy is brought to my attention. In this case, the same women that has experienced far worse than anyone ever should, has displayed greater strength and courage than most people are capable of (link to article). Twenty-two-year-old, Evelyn Apoko, was abducted from her Ugandan home by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) before she was a teen.
During the three years she was held captive by the guerrilla group, Apoko witnessed terrible acts of violence and suffered tremendous physical, mental, and emotional pain. Apoko did what she had to to survive. She knew that if she didn’t listen to the LRA, she would be killed.
Apoko was often caught in the midst of a firefight. One day, planes flew by, leaving bombs in their path. The child Apoko had been carrying was killed, Apoko suffered life-threatening injuries, and was left without a jaw. The LRA “spared” her because she could walk on her own. She couldn’t eat, so she drank. Eventually, she escaped when she said she was going to use the bathroom, then never returned. She made it back to Uganda and has had treatment there and major operations in the U.S.
The LRA abducts boys and girls between 9-12 years old to keep their organization alive. Girls become mules, wives, or sex slaves while boys are left to “choose” between fighting or being left in a mass grave. The LRA is always moving and floats between several nations. They have been in existence since the 1980’s and are led by Joseph Kony.
The group had failed to be in the public eye until recently, President Obama decided to sent 100 military advisors to central Africa to hunt down the leaders of the LRA. What brought greater attention to the issue was conservative radio personality, Rush Limbaugh calling out Obama and coming to the defense of the “Christian” LRA. Apoko herself has responded to Limbaugh in a video, exposing the LRA for who they are and providing her side of the story. Limbaugh has left her waiting for a response.
Media attention is only the beginning. For Apoko and other survivors to heal and move on, much will have to be done. Child abductions must be stopped to spare the lives of many and to stop the growth of the LRA. This is not the only case of “humans” doing unspeakable acts to others that should be too sadistic to imagine, let alone carry out. Inhumane acts are a global issue. We have to do more than write or talk, myself included. We need to act. As Apoko says, "Every human being deserves peace in their life. We all deserve to live life without fear."