If not me, then who?
This was the question I couldn’t seem to shake as we pulled away from Greek, a refugee resettlement camp in Eastern Uganda. This village is the new home for 2,000 Ugandans displaced by civil war, a war far less familiar than the recent conflict in Northern Uganda. The Karamojong people have been known throughout history as cattle raiders, stealing this livestock of other clans to be used in marriage dowry negotiations. This region of eastern Uganda has been without peace throughout the last 15 years. The Karamojong swept through the eastern countryside, raiding villages, burning the people out of their homes, and devastating thousands of families. Now that the conflict has ceased, the displaced people are making their way back into this region of the country. Though it is not their original home, these families are working to resettle into a new and peaceful place.
Throughout our trip we have been overwhelmed by the obstacles and overwhelming complexity of our world. And we have learned about incredible people and partnerships that devote themselves to the hard work of justice, invested in the communities and lives of the people with whom they work.
But this place, Greek, was different. No programs. No partnerships. No government assistance. Nothing. This resettlement camp is off the radar, largely ignored, save the two local pastors who brought us to this resettlement camp.
In every place we have been on this trip, there has been an element of choice as to how I should respond. I have left so many places on this trip asking myself, “How do I fit in to this program?” or, “Can I see myself or my community partnering with these people?” But here, the element of choice was gone. I had witnessed an injustice, a forgotten people. And I had to respond. For me it is no longer a matter of choice to tell the story of the people of Greek. It is my responsibility to share with you.
The families resettling in Greek have clear and pressing needs: access to clean water, school and teachers, malaria nets, a health clinic. Big needs. Needs to which I´m not sure yet how we respond. But this is my first response, to tell you this story.
As many of you have probably noticed, this entry is a bit delayed in making it to the blog. Some of that can be attributed to unreliable or infrequent access to internet during our trip. But it is mostly due to my inability, my resistance, to put these thoughts out there for you to see. Moving these thoughts from my journal and my heart to this blog makes them real. And makes me responsible. It´s scary and wonderful at the same time. So I write to you now from an internet cafe in Managua, Nicaragua. Nine days later. But here it is. Thank you for taking the time to read this. And thank you for your patience with me as I continue to process.