Feeding Uganda’s Children

10/01/07

For the past two decades, Uganda has served as the stage for a civil war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government—innocent civilians cast as the involuntary “extras” in this real-life nightmare. As this war has raged on, thousands of children have been abducted by the rebel soldiers who have subjected them to torture or sexual violence, and turned them into child soldiers (many as young as eight or nine) conscripting them by force into their violent army. While peace talks are currently underway to bring much-needed resolution to this humanitarian crisis, a devastating side effect of this war remains: the IDP Camps (camps for Internally Displaced Persons).

A decade ago, the Ugandan government forcibly relocated its Northern Ugandan citizens into these IDP camps. Many families fled with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. At best, these camps offer squalid living conditions, insufficient provisions for survival, and lack adequate security. Today, more than 1.5 million Northern Ugandans continue to suffer in these inhumane living conditions. Hundreds of thousands are children, many of which are children living in orphan-headed households (having lost both parents in the war). Without the protection of a parent, children are left to compete with adults for basic necessities, fending for themselves and the siblings now under their care. There is not enough food to go around and opportunities to earn even a meager income are scarce. Children often succumb to begging, scavenging, and in many cases, doing without.

Last January, COTN President Chris Clark and a short-term team had the opportunity to visit IDP camps outside the capital city of Kampala. Working in conjunction with Pastor James Okalo of Truth Evangelical Church in Lira (who is currently working with three different area churches and serving as our Country Coordinator in Uganda) and also with Janet McKonkey of Kids Against Hunger, we were able to distribute much-anticipated food packages to children in the camps.

In a recent conversation with Pastor James we learned that food distribution continues in Uganda. Packaged meals are distributed weekly to the camps, always making sure that they go into the hands of a child. According to Pastor James, they have depleted half the food resources we left with them in January. “COTN is the only organization currently distributing food packs directly to camps,” he says. “Many other organizations rely on government reports and have heard that people in displacement camps are returning home, which isn’t the case. Some organizations are currently avoiding Uganda due to the political instability. Praise God for COTN! You are currently the only organization in the field—the only help that has come.”

COTN continues in our effort to come to the aid of starving children in Uganda. At our recent 285K Meal Marathon, held in Silverdale, WA, thousands of volunteers rallied together and packaged more than 285,000 meals (enough to fill 40-foot container). These meals will be shipped to Uganda as soon as funds are raised to cover the $14,000 cost of shipping. If you would like more information on our 285K Meal Marathon or would like to help pay for shipping or purchase meals to help feed starving children in Uganda, please visit the Donation Page on our website.