Investing for Life

Northern Uganda: a place where a nightmare was played out, largely unnoticed by the rest of  humanity for twenty years.

play-equip-from-japanese-international-school-2Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, led by the infamous Joseph Kony, would enter villages, often at night, to abduct children as child soldiers or rebel ‘brides’. Some were as young as 7. Children were often forced to kill siblings or parents: a strategy designed to make them feel too guilty to escape the rebels and sneak back home. Those who resisted the LRA were usually shot. The abducted children often spent years in the bush. There they were taught to pillage, torture, cannabilise and kill. It was normal for ears and lips to be cut off, as a threat to any who would ‘talk’. Children wee traded with neighbouring countries for ammunition. Others became cannon fodder, some as young as 4, since young children, in these skirmishes, are not necessarily issued weapons.

Crossroads shipped, year after year, to this location supporting work among these young lives. When our team visited, they were told “Take a good look round. Everything you see came from Crossroads.” They saw tables, chairs, beds, sheets, shoes, clothes, educational supplies, cupboards, cabinets, computers for the educational system and equipment for vocational training.

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Former child soldier David Livingstone speaks to participants at Crossroads’ Refugee Run simulation in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum

The children’s favourite was a surprise to us all. One of the key leaders in the area, David Livingstone, asked us if we had any playground equipment “because counsellors advise us that the children of war need to ‘learn how to be kids’ again.” The very week he asked, we received an offer from an international school in Hong Kong offering, amazingly, a brand new set of swings, slides and climbing equipment, worth US$20,000. Once in Uganda, it was used from sun up to sun down.

David himself has broadened his work to include agriculture, small businesses to help families and communities re-start. He has also opened up medical work to battle a new illness, the infamous Nodding’s Disease, which is claiming the lives of their children in the post war era. He joins us at the World Economic Forum when we take the Refugee Run there as we seek to keep this desperate part of the world before world leaders who can help.

The children’s favourite was a surprise to us all. One of the key leaders in the area, David Livingstone, asked us if we had any playground equipment “because counsellors advise us that the children of war need to ‘learn how to be kids’ again.” The very week he asked, we received an offer from an international school in Hong Kong offering, amazingly, a brand new set of swings, slides and climbing equipment, worth US$20,000. Once in Uganda, it was used from sun up to sun down.

It is our goal, at Crossroads, to invest for life. Our partnership in Northern Uganda is one example of many we celebrate in this our anniversary year.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

map-uganda

When Rwanda suffered its inimitable ethnic fighting, the result was not simply war. It was genocide. In 100 days, the country saw 500,000 people killed. Bertrand Russel called it, “The most horrible and systematic human massacre we have had occasion to witness since the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis.”

The images of death from that period are searing. So is the legacy the country continues to battle as it tries to reconstruct, train its youth and equip them for a different future. The population averages US$1.57 per day. Good employment, and the training that enables it, are therefore critical.

A simple gift of tools can help. There are training centres in the country helping young people master employable skills. The equipment they need, however, may be beyond their reach.

Knowing the depth of need in many communities, Ian Wells (pictured), one of Crossroads’ long term community volunteers, offered a huge set of tools on Global Hand, our match-making website. They were snapped up by a Rwandan carpentry centre.

Tools - Ian

With drills, saws, vices, chisels, hammers, screwdrivers and more – a treasure trove for this impoverished area – the donation was collected from the UK and shipped to Rwanda.

“Rwanda is clinically dead as a nation,” said Nigerian Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, at the time of the genocide.  As better quality employment opportunities open up, this country is, increasingly, able to give the next generation a greater chance at life.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

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“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.

War

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.

Crossroads Foundation Hong Kong

Give Now!

Donate to a shipment like this one.

DONATE MONEY

Donate Goods!

Want to donate goods for a shipment like this one?

DONATE GOODS

Uganda Snapshot

Population: 37.58 million
Capital: Kampala

Uganda is a fertile, land-locked country in East Africa, in the Africa Great Lakes region, with a tropical climate.

Great progress has been made in fighting HIV in Uganda, but 1.5 million people still live with the disease, and there are 1 million children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

39% of girls are married by the age of 18. 37.7% of people in Uganda live below the international poverty line of US$1.25/day.

A6

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read more ...

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read more ...

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It was the end of an era when Hong Kong’s beloved Excelsior shut down in early 2019. As their doors closed,...

read more ...

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"Finally, the repair of our maternity hospital is finished," wrote our colleagues in the Ukraine. "Your beds are in refurbished rooms...

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