Journal Entry #1: October 4th, 2006
Subject: Greetings from Jinja, Uganda
Hello everybody, I appreciate your love and prayers. I have made it here to Jinja. I arrived yesterday around 1pm, my host organization forgot that I was coming and their phone did not work, so I waited about 2 hours until my good friend James and his friend could drive me to the cottage. It was a blessing, though, I was able to fellowship with James and his friend Roger as we sped through the back streets of Uganda to get to Jinja, except that Roger did get a ticket for going down the wrong street. I think it was a set-up by the police because there were no signs showing one way. The 4 luggage bags did show up and that was a blessing. I was worried because they each contain 50 lbs of goods exactly. Previously, when we were at the airport, Terrie was smart to bring additional supplies to make sure the bags equaled exactly 50 lbs.
I’m staying at a hotel near the cottage. It is modern with separate living quarters for visitors. The Amani baby cottage has approx. 54 children. with about 15 preemies, 9 2-month olds, and 40 2-4 years. Very crazy. There is about 20 volunteers from all around the world here. Canada, USA, Europe, Mexico. Jinja has one Internet cafe with dial-up communication so each email I send takes about 4 minutes to load and send. They have power one day and the next they don’t. It is a rotating cycle. But sometimes they get cheated out of power so they have two days of power outages.
After talking with Lois, an administrator with Amani, it costs about $3,500us in Uganda and $2,500 in USA to adopt a child from Uganda. A girl named Anne, helped me get to the downtown area of Jinja. She currently is 26 and adopted 2 baby girls (sisters) 3 years ago. She is here with them, Peace and Charity as they are called, finalizing the adoption process. She got medical visas the first time she adopted them to come home to the states. Now she is having trouble getting with the Uganda judge in getting proper papers. Please pray for that. The kids here in Jinja are very beautiful except for the common colds. Two have pneumonia (sp?), I heard about a new bug called a melon worm. It is planted while somebody is washing their clothes and attaches to the skin if the clothing is not ironed out. The larvae is planted beneath the skin and squirms out after a few days. very common here.Well, I should let all of you go. It’s about 5:18 pm here on Friday night. Love you all. Keep me in your prayers as I travel.
Journal Entry #2: October 10th, 2006
Subject: Update! Gulu? Interview with 4 former L.R.A. Soldiers
Greetings everyone,It’s hard to email because the power comes on at 10 pm at night and every other day the power is off. Thanks for all those reply emails. It is really encouraging. If you desire to call me, www.phonecards.com is a place I recommend for purchasing phone cards. It should be around 8 cents a minute. Or if you want to call without one, here is the number of the cell phone that I am using: 011-256-752-471-236. Remember, we are 10 hours ahead; so a phone call between 9-11 am (your time would be best).Today is Tuesday, around 2:15 pm. It is a boiler today. The top of My feet are burning red. Even if you use suntan lotion, it sweats off. This morning, I went shopping with an orphanage for children’s uniforms. Each school requires uniforms to be worn. Last Saturday, I had the chance to tour Lord Meads Vocational Training in Northern Jinja. The school houses 550 boys & girls and teaches them hand skills (wood, electrical) and book. So each child has skills when they graduate to earn a living if they choose not to go to college.John, a fellow Rotarian, introduced to me a boy of around 16 years old. At age 8, he was abducted by the L.R.A., while walking home from school. For the two months he was captive, he carried land mines. He later escaped and headed south.This was an unexpected interview. As we headed back to my hotel, John had to stop by his house to pay the gardener his weekly wage. As we veered the car into the carport, 3 boys ages, 14-21, walked gingerly towards us. Each was missing one of their legs.
As it turns out, David, Francis and Alex, were shot in the leg by the Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (U.P.D.F.) and left for dead. Francis and Alex, were abducted and served as grunt soldiers. David, was abducted at age 10, and rose through the ranks to Lieutenant, until he was shot in March ’06. It turned out to be around a 2 hour interview about the life of being a soldier and information about the L.R.A. I will be typing up my notes when I get home so we can discuss it in length rather then typing it out now.On Sunday, I attended a church in Jinja. It was a jumping, typical African sermon. Later, I visited the orphanage that uniforms were purchased for. On Monday, I moved from the hotel into the Volunteers house near the Amani Baby Cottage. The children are so beautiful. I wish I can attach pictures to this email but the computer runs so slow, it would take a few hours. I’m staying in a private room within a house containing 12 volunteers, all white females. It is more comfortable. The hotel was nice because no one was there, I could talk business with the owner. But that gets boring after awhile so the even the Volunteer house has lots of bugs, birds, frogs, big birds, and weird looking flying things, I feel more at home. This will probably be my last email until Friday or Saturday. Please keep me in your prayers, as I travel on Thursday morning to Gulu by Bus. If you look at a map, Gulu is north of Lira and south of Sudan. It is the 3rd largest city in Uganda. It should take about 8 hours to travel there. I love your emails, so keep them coming. love Patrick.
Journal Entry #3: October 17th, 2006
Greetings my family and friends,Thank you for praying for me and my travels across Uganda. I have made it to Jo Burg, South Africa. I am very tired and have come down with something that I caught while in Lira. Below are my journal entries for your entertainment (the boring stuff was cut out):
As I traveled from Jinja to Kampala on Thursday, it took only 2 hours of cramped sitting space in the back seat of a coasta (what you call a VW bus, but having a capacity of 4 people each row of seats equaling 16+ people per load). I was told previously that I could take a bus to Gulu that same day, incorrect. But fortunately, I was blessed with a way that was cheaper than a tour bus and started at around $12,000 shillings and that was a Post Bus. A Post Bus is like a Mail person’s vehicle, except it carries people and picks up/drops off mail in each town it drives through. I stayed the night at a hotel and was in the bus by 8 am. It took more than 6 1/2 hours to get to Gulu on Friday. But I arrived around 3 pm. Katie from Invisible Children (.org) was there waiting for me and another visitor. She took us around Gulu. From her office to KORO, a displaced people’s camp holding about 13,000 people with 11,000 children ages 18 and below. Per government restrictions, I could not take any photos of the camp. Afterward, she introduced me to a home strictly for children so that could play and not get into trouble. Also, the home has a program called HEELS (Health, Education, Literacy, Sports) that has a group of therapists that help children who were abducted by the LRA heal from their wounds and adjust back to society. The next day, I tried to find this house again but got lost for about 2 hours until I gave up and headed back to the volunteer house that I was staying at. I had a bag of toys (Frisbees, tennis balls, jump ropes, balloons, etc) to give. The time was going against me so I just gave the bag to one of the volunteers that works at HEELS. I left for Lira later that day (Saturday) around 4pm. I arrived in Lira around 6pm, when it was getting a tad dark. This is not good; but i was blessed and befriended a fellow passenger named Bonny (a guy) who had an office in the city who helped me get to the hotel that the team (9 others that I flew with) stayed. In my mind, it was not the best of hotels. I was only there for 2 nights but got many mosquito bites and have attained an unknown cold of sorts (please pray for me) I’m not sure what it is but I have a sore throat, tired, head ache, coughing. I learned a lot from Bonny about Lira. There are not many young children that roam the streets in front of stores. This is because store owners have had them break into their shops via air vents and with the use of ladders. Lira is a dusty, dirty, smoggy town, with many bars. I learned that taxi/bus drivers (while on their breaks between drives) tend to visit the bars. I spent an hour or so taking pictures of the awesome team’s work at a makeshift medical clinic in the early morning. I soon left and took a boda boda (450 cc motorcyle taxi) to the taxi park. The bus driver who took me from Lira back to Kampala on Monday, I believe was intoxicated. Talk about a scary ride back. Imagine a large tour bus packed with people and chickens, cruising at 95 mph on a one 1/2 street with other enormous vehicles coming at you in the other lane. This bus would not stop for pot holes, it would just go over them. My plane for South Africa (where I am now) left at 5 am in the morning on Tuesday with boarding at 4:15 am. Because it was not worthwhile to stay in a hotel, I spent the evening with friends who had a car. We had dinner at Nandos in the evening (An American Food Joint) but as we crossed I got my left leg twisted in Barbed Wire. I never had that happen before, blood galore. But it is ok now. I was dropped off at the airport around 12 am. and slept awhile on the cafe floor with about 12 other travelers until check-in. Prayer Requests: Safe travel (Wednesday visiting Play pump sites with children), Overcoming this rather annoying cold (tonight, I shall rest up a bit), Safety from others (Jo burg has a 40% unemployment rate and thieves mug people during the day), Thursday – Sunday: taking a bit rest and to prepare for going back to Uganda on Monday (23rd). I appreciate all your encouragement and emails. It means a lot to me.Love Patrick
Journal Entry #4: November 7th, 2006
Subject: Back Home, A Tad Jet Lagged! Good morning my dear family and friends,It’s around 4 am on Tuesday morning and I can’t go back to sleep. This has been a common phenomenon since getting home late last Wednesday night. I have appreciated all your support and prayers throughout my endeavor through out Uganda and a brief visit to South Africa. Here below are the last excerpts of my trip:On Wednesday (Oct. 18th), I visited a playpump location (www.playpumps.org) at the Diesploot Primary School on the outskirts of Jo-burg. It was a fascinating tool and toy. If you can imagine a merry-go-round and well together, that’s what a playpump is. As children play and rotate the device, water is pumped from the ground into a towering tank and then tubed to a facet where children and school workers can get water. At this location, water is frequently turned off due to local municipality control, and the nurses of the school take water across the road to a HIV/AIDS center for their uses.Children loved this tool. There must of been about 25 kids playing on this toy when we left later that morning. The founder of Playpumps, Trevor was there to meet us (us, meaning me, my contact Sandra, and a couple from the UK whose company had sponsored the installation of a pump). Trevor was very explanatory on the design of the pump and its uses. I told him about my Uganda endeavors and he stated that he was in contact with the Ugandan ministry of health and water. And it was planned to install playpumps in Uganda in 2008. I’ll just have to wait and see. During my rest of the stay in Jo-burg, I kept it quite low key. I spent most of the time, reading and catching up on my sleep. I did spend a few hours at a amusement park, learning about how gold is dug up and processed from rock. And had the opportunity to tour an inactive gold mine. That was quite fun. I spent a Thursday evening at a Jo-Burg Rotary club and tried to introduce the playpump as a project that both their Rotary and my SE PDX Rotary club could join to pursue. But, the result was disappointed and I felt that they had no interest. Get this, as I left the location of the club of which was only 4 blocks from Bob’s Bunkhouse, it was around 8 pm at night and I saw only 1 active car drive past me and saw no one walking outside. Kinda eerie. My plane back to Uganda on Monday morning (oct.23rd) was typical. Late to start 10 am, late to arrive 9 pm. My host family (Pastor Fred of Gabba Community Church) was fully aware of my arrival time and did pick me up around 9:30 so I did not have to fret about somebody not forgetting to pick me up like my first day in Uganda. Pastor Fred’s house was typical for a property in Uganda. The dirt streets near his house showed wear and tear from torrential rain falls. Imagine crevasses and holes the size of goats being avoided on the road. That describes what it’s like driving on the backroads of Gabba.The next few days, I spent learning more about needs of Bethany Village. BV is a community where children or orphans stay in home communities of 15 children each house with a mother and father figure. As of today, there were 8 homes with around 15-16 children in each house and only 2 houses with both sets of parents. So 6 homes had only a mother figure living there taking care of 15 children. Can you imagine that? BV is located after a 25 minute boat ride across parts of Lake Victoria to a peninsula called Bula and then you take a boda boda (motorcylce taxi) to BV. On Wednesday morning, I had the opportunity to visit BV and go around to each orphanage house asking the mothers (and 2 fathers) what they needed. Previous to this trip, a fundraiser was held to help out children of Uganda. Each house was allocated around $100.00 for needs not met by current management (gaba church). The following is a list of needs asked for by the homes: House of Grace: a Plastic Barrel (to hold a reservoir of water for cooking and drinking, several houses had to bring water from Lake Victoria and boil it for ), hand buckets for the latrine (to wash down feces); House of Praise: Biblical Story books, plastic carpet for living room, plastic dining table mat cover; House of Hope: breakfast flasks (thermos), plastic plates; House of Blessed: wall clock, plastic plates, plastic barrel to hold water; Worship House: biblical story books, wall clock, plastic plates, cups; House of Joy: plates, cups, forks, spoons, bucket 4 food, 2 iron boxes (an iron box is an Iron with an area to fill with coal, no electricity is at BV); Granny House: 2 Kerosene lanterns, plastic plates, cups, salad bowls, forks; Favor House: 17 school bags and plates.If you noticed, a lot of homes asked for plates. During the morning, the children take their porridge to school and eat it along the way. A lot of times, the children forget their plates and then it disappears at night time. Probably taken by local village kids looking for something to nibble on. I stayed the evening and spent the night at one of the project manager’s houses. At around 7 pm, I heard the sounds of drumming and singing. It was very cool. Each house was having a devotion in their own means. From the house I was staying in, I could not see anything at any of the other houses but could hear drums from all different directions. It stopped around 8 pm and my host, Wiley, provided a fierce meal of pork ribs (a rarity) and mo-tow-key (yellow mash from small green bananas). I slept well until a rooster woke me up at 4 am.The next morning, the rain was falling harder than what it is doing outside now (from my office at home). We left by boda boda around 10 and headed back to Gabba via boat taxi. I heard that one of the mothers (previously let go 2 months earlier) had taken a sewing machine that Terrie and I purchased for BV in May of 05. So with the help of Wiley, I had a special trip to a place in Kampala later in the afternoon. What took 3 hours to accomplish, ended with 3 new Singer, foot powered, sewing machines @ about 127,000 shillings (approx. $70 each). When I heard about the theft, I made an executive decision to allocate personal funds to purchase the machines. Shopping for items is not like visiting a local Walmart, you have to find a store that specializes in the product and negotiate the price. So most items on the list, had to be purchased separately and at different locations.On Friday afternoon, my friend Sam took me shopping for the items on the list. After about 4 hours of shopping, it was done. I had fun negotiating for the items asked for but we had approx. 800K shillings left from the purchases, praise God. So we purchased an additional 120 beach towels for the children of BV (each child used the sun and past clothing to dry themselves after a shower), 14 more flasks “thermos” (The reason: without a thermos, a child or mother would have to get up around 4 am to prepare the morning porridge, but with a flask, the porridge could be made the previous night), biblical story books & plates for all the homes. The distribution of items to the homes was set for Sunday Afternoon.On Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit “James,” the child that Terrie & I sponsor and his Mom. James lives in Tinga and he had made special arrangements to drive to Bussujju, an area outside Kampala in the rolling mountains where his mom manages a small farm. Very Beautiful country and 2 hour drive. Speed bumps that were 2 feet tall kept us from speeding periodically through small towns. Very nice farm that produced mo-tow-key, beans, sweet potatoes, and much more. We arrived back to Gabba around 5 pm. I headed back to my host’s house and stayed until church the next day. After church, Sam brought an old land rover to P. Fred’s house/garage to pick up all the items purchased for Bethany Village. We took a special boat taxi to BV and arrived around 2 pm. The children helped haul the items from the boat dock to Wiley’s House. We separated out the items into 8 different piles. We called children from each specific house to pick up the items purchased. Wiley and his wife, Mary, were hard at work putting together the sewing machines, Sam and I visited each home and was greeted with big smiles and hugs from both the kids and parent figures. It was a blessed time. Sam and I, left around 6 pm and took a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and taxi boat back to Gabba. I felt a tear run down my cheek as we departed from Bethany Village. It was God’s work through me that had helped these children. I felt sad and happy. I spent the evening back at Pastor Fred’s house having a resting moment. His children are very beautiful. I’ve known Fred for almost 5 years now and got to know his family and watch them grow up. The next morning, I was picked up by a Pastor Vernon and we headed off to Musisi Village where he was building a home/primary school and I committed the purchase of 5 bags of cement for the boarding house’s floor. The area was about 2 hours from Gabba and very beautiful. It’s where you can buy an acre of land for $2,000 us. Pastor Vernon told me this because he wants to expand the land to include more acreage. 5 bags of cement cost 94,500 usg, but will go a long way to helping out children and their needs of a decent cement floor.I got back to town around 6 pm Monday night and I was dropped back off at Pastor Fred’s House. We had chicken and moo-tow-key that night and I spent the latter part of the evening packing up gear for my Tuesday night flight back home. The next day (Tuesday), I spent a few hours shopping at a visitor’s market for anything weird and a few normal things like dolls, bookmarks, drums, etc.Pastor Fred and his family took me to the airport around 4 pm on Tuesday evening. The plane departed at 9 pm and I arrived safely back home on Wednesday night around 11 pm.Thank you for your prayers and support. It is a blessing to have prayer warriors and financial supporters while I am away with a ministry for children. Thank you for keeping care of my wife, Terrie, as I was gone. Pictures will be sent out once they have been selected. I only took 1100 of them while abroad.Love Patrick
INTERVIEWS WITH FORMER L.R.A. SOLDIERS
(Francis, Alex & David)
Patrick was abducted at age 8. Escaped two months later. Was trained to carry landmines. Currently boarding & studying at Lords Mead Vocational Institute in Jinja.
Francis: Currently 14 years old, Abducted in 1998 while in P5. Loss leg to a bullet in 2003. Currently boarding at Rotarians house in Jinja. Will go back to school when he gets better.
Alex: Abducted in 2001 while going home from school. 10 years old when abducted. 16 years old now. Lost leg in 2005, shot in leg by U.P.D.F. Not interrogated, U.P.D.F. only cared about saving his life. Taken to hospital. Was trained to shoot but did not kill or beat people during his time with L.R.A.
Wherever they are, that’s where they sleep: bush, village, street, etc.
David: Lieutenant in L.R.A. Taught to abduct in the day or night. The Ugandan Police Defense Force (U.P.D.F.) shot his leg in March of 2006. Served 11 years in L.R.A. Abducted when walking home from school. Killed and beat people. When shot, he was not wearing ranking, so he was not interrogated.
Tidbits of L.R.A. from Alex
No white children soldiers. No white people while catching children around.
Target Tribes: Surely, Lango, Baganda, Eteso. Target Children ages 8-15.
As you aged in L.R.A., according to training, you receive specific weapons. Weapons were received from Sudan or get from U.P.D.F. No mercy to U.P.D.F. if caught, no hostages taken.
Tidbits of L.R.A. from David
David had two wives in bush, both 18 when he was commanding his forces.
What happens to women when their man is killed? Women go back to their village.
Can a soldier have more than one wife? Not restrictive to # of wives, just depends on how strong you are. Big people have 5-50 wives.
Ranks in Army same as normal. Had a battalion of 1020 soldiers.
Frontline: when you killed somebody, your level (rank) increased.
Why were you left, when you were shot? In small L.R.A. group vs. large U.P.D.F. group. My group was too small to carry me back.
As of today, David has not adjusted back to work life. Wives cook and clean.
How far south do you snatch children? 8 KM from Gulu.
They knew children were walking from Sudan into safe zones, they would ambush them by hiding and then take them. Younger children were easier to mind-wash than older children.Did not allow to kill adults without children. Killed parents when their children were taken.
Rape within L.R.A.: 150 or 200 canes or death
18 years to grow, then given to someone to marry.
Steal or salary in army? Ambush people, steal items not just money, loot (rings, watches). Given to coordinator, he buys supplies. Supplies given to commander, then split up.
How big is L.R.A.? 5 Brigades, 1,900 soldiers in each brigade.
Steal children in Sudan? No, only in
Uganda. Was Sudan supporting L.R.A.? Yes, with uniforms, guns, food, vehicles including jeeps.Were the 5 brigades close to each other? Each had separate areas to control. Law governing group? Steal-If you know person, take to commander.
If not, you shoot them when at frontline.
Are all officials at frontline? Yes, majors, captains, Lts., Soldiers, no one stays behind.
What happens if an injury occurs, was a doctor/physician available? Had a doctor in each brigade.
How did you get a doctor? Abducted physicians or medical students. Attacked clinics or hospitals.
Was there anybody else you abducted besides children, women, doctors or medical students?
Abducted anyone. They take you aside, ask your profession. Take taxi drivers, any profession up to any age.
Hand to hand combat vs. shooting? More distance oriented.
If teacher was taken aside, what you do with them? There is a school in Sudan, take them there to teach soldiers.If you can’t fit somebody with an occupation, what do you do? Put them as a soldier. Why was Sudan financing the army? Ugandan government was supporting rebel groups in southern Sudan. Was U.P.D.F. made of men, women, children? Men only.