BENEFITING: Carlow University
During a recent trip to Uganda, Dr. Mary Burke, PEHT’s founder and executive director met a courageous young woman who had been abducted and held for three years. Here is part of her touching story:
On 23 March 2003 when she was just 12 years old, she and four other girls were abducted. For the next three years she was forced to be a servant to in every way; she engaged in tasks such as cooking, cleaning shoes, and breaking down, carrying and setting up tent as the rebel group moved daily from one location to another and was raped daily. She described witnessing murders and experiencing many threats against her own life that were reinforced through intimidation with gun and bayonet. When asked how she found the strength to endure this suffering, she stated that every once in a while she would sit down and cry, but that because she “wanted to live”, she found it within herself to carry on.
In October 2005, she became pregnant and she carried the pregnancy while moving from location to location in the bush while under the control of and still being forced to serve. In May of 2006, near the end of her pregnancy, she escaped the rebels and hid by herself until she was found by Ugandan soldiers. The soldiers took her to Gulu where she gave birth to her son and stayed for one week. After giving birth she and her son were taken to her parents in a village by a local NGO.
Reintegrating to her family and village was not easy for her. While some of her immediate family have been supportive, her extended family and one of her brothers have not. Her older brother does not like her because of her experiences and has beaten her and wants to kill her son. Many villagers and other children also taunt her and her son, ridiculing and bullying them related to their victimization. Unfortunately, this type of reaction is not uncommon and clearly adds to stress and hurt for them and for others who were abducted and enslaved.
The purpose of sharing her story is to gain support for her and the four other young women from her village who were abducted and enslaved. These five women have goals for themselves and their children. She reports that they have a strong interest in being self-sufficient, however there are unique challenges in achieving self-sufficiency in a community where one is shunned as an outcast. However, she believes that this is possible through education and by starting a business. While she ultimately wants to serve other women as a midwife, we discussed seeking support for her and the others in this group for housing, education, and development of a small business through micro-financing.
Here at the Project to End Human Trafficking we are taking a first step by helping her finish her education. To offer financial support for this important effort (or any of those described above), please support this campaign by either donating or spreading the word to others.