from many countries face a danger that is unfathomable to those in the
rest of the world whose lives are lived in safety and security. As young
as nine or ten, these children are either conscripted by their governments, given over to the military by their impoverished parents or abducted to serve in adult-made conflicts or are abducted by insurgents in fights
against the established government.
Upon their abduction these children enter into a hellish life where inability to walk on bleeding
feet, escape attempts, illness and unwillingness to commit atrocities
are punishable by death at the hands of their fellow captives. These children, a large number of whom were nine or ten when they were abducted,
are trained to be ruthless killers and the younger the
child, the easier the task, as young children are easier to mold. To date, over 30,000 childen have een abducted and excpet for a few original LRA members, the army today is made up of abducted children, now hardened adults. Some
children have been held for many years while others are rescued or have
escaped after a few weeks. Whatever their length of time in captivity,
they all have experienced intolerable trauma.
The Ugandan Children of Conflict Education Fund, UCCEF, is a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization, was formed in 2002 to provide funds for an education for former child soldiers who have been rescued or have escaped from captivity. We will commit to a childs education when we are certain that the support will be sustained for as long as the child remains in school. With the knowledge that these children have been severely traumatized, our only expectations are that the child desires the education and demonstrates a sincere effort to learn. 100% of the money we raise is used for the education and needs of the students and to pay the salary of Anena Irene, our worker in the field who oversees their welfare.
We find sponsors for the students who are suggested for our program by the two rehabilitation centers in Gulu Uganda. These sponsors promise to remain committed to the student’s education for as long as he or she remains in school. We do not expect academic excellence from the students but do require a commitment to the school work and mostly passing grades. Occasionally a student needs to repeat a grade and we encourage the sponsor to give the student an extra year to succeed.
We originally set out to support the children through secondary school (a six year course but some had completed some of the grades before abduction) We have discovered that sometimes the student is anxious to continue on to college and the sponsor is given the opportunity to provide that. At this writing we have six students seeking higher degrees.
At present we are supporting twenty six students. Ten others have dropped out and six have disappeared and cannot be traced. Hopefully they have gone back to their remote villages but there is always the fear that they have been re-abducted.