Visiting Uganda @Helmut Kirschstein

Gossner Mission in Uganda

At a glance

Northern Uganda - and Acholi country in particular - was devastated by decades of bloody civil war until 2006 and is recovering only slowly. For twenty years, the rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) terrorized this stretch of land, raiding villages, turning boys into child soldiers and forcing girls into prostitution. For their own protection, large parts of the population were housed for years in internal refugee camps, which often offered no real security.

The country fell into decay. More than 100,000 people died and 60,000 children were displaced: These are two figures from these terrible years that only hint at the extent of the destruction and devastation. More than 90 percent of the population is still considered traumatized today.

During the time of terror, it was the churches, especially the Anglican Church of Uganda, that provided support and hope for many people. Their representatives also suffered from the rebels' raids, and their churches were also attacked and destroyed. And yet they remained close to the people, which still gives them great moral authority today.

As an unbowed moral authority, the churches in northern Uganda are particularly predestined to contribute to the reconciliation of this deeply torn society. For the rift caused by the civil war runs right through villages, church communities and families. Many of the later perpetrators were themselves initially victims. How do people meet each other when former child soldiers return to their villages? How do they deal with the girls who were forced to prostitute themselves? How do they themselves deal with what they have suffered?
As early as the 1990s, religious communities joined together to form the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, which carries out peace and reconciliation work. Among the assets in this initiative are the Gossner Mission's partners: the dioceses of Kitgum and Northern Uganda.

 

Partnerships

The Gossner Mission has maintained a partnership with the dioceses of Kitgum and Northern Uganda since March 2016. It had already accompanied the Evangelical Church District of Norden/Eastern Frisia in its partnership with the two dioceses.

In addition to reconciliation work, both dioceses in Uganda strive to give the people of the country living hope by opening up new perspectives for them through meaningful reconstruction work and projects. The focus here is primarily on young people, the generation of children and adolescents. The Gossner Mission and the Norden church district support the two partner dioceses in this endeavor. This also explains the focus of the joint work, which is in the area of nursery schoos, schools and vocational training.

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