“When the elephants dance, the grass gets trampled. That is the expression we use in Africa.” A worried Ugandan leader reached for this metaphor to help us understand the plight of his people. Members of our team have visited the war torn area and seen the truth of the African proverb: as the rebels continue their fight, those most impacted are the women and children.
Uganda’s violence is now entering its third decade, and, over this time, the women who have survived are frequently widowed. There is no employment opportunity for them in the camps for displaced persons. If they flee to the slums of the city for protection, work can be hard to find, sanitation difficult to secure for their children and discrimination, as single women, hard to bear. Worse, back In the camps, education is unavailable so any women who have grown up there, over the past twenty years, may not have had opportunity to go to school at all. Those living in the slums of the capital city of Kampala, therefore, may desperately seek a better life but the odds are heavily against them, without support. This is why Crossroads is partnering with NGOs willing to offer strategic support: they provide educational and vocational skills to women and youth, health training, water and sanitation programmes, and adult literacy classes. Without help of this kind, there is no viable way for war victims to leave the nightmare of their past behind and begin the path towards a normal life.