Lucy Akot was 12 years old when the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels abducted her in 1992. In the rebel camp, she was forced to live with a man who was over 30 years older. “He had HIV, but they forced me to marry him, and with this man I had two children. The first child survived, but the second one died,” she says.
While in captivity, Lucy was occasionally tortured. She was beaten and abused. In 1997 her husband died, and life became even tougher. She says, “At least when he was there, he would protect me a little. When he died there was no one to help me.”
After 8 years in captivity, Lucy managed to escape and returned home in 2000. But life was not easy, and she couldn’t come to terms with what had happened to her in the bush. In 2009, Lucy joined Watoto’s Living Hope program in Gulu, northern Uganda.
“When I came here and began actively participating in the tailoring department. Living Hope opened a bank account into which they would pay me a monthly wage. I began to learn how to save; the rest I use to pay school fees for my children, pay rent, and other living expenses,” she says.
Every month, she was also given basic food items and access to health facilities whenever she or her children became sick. Lucy’s daughter was born in captivity and because of that, Lucy hated her so much. “I would say to the child, ‘If it was not for the bush you would not be here.” However, because of the discipleship training she received, she began to learn that children were not an accident. She says, “I began to realize that she is my own gift from God. It used to hurt me a lot when I saw her, but now I love her. I thank God that she is not HIV+.”
After graduating from the Living Hope training, Lucy was given a sewing machine so that she could earn a living from the skills she had acquired. Today, Lucy is running a successful tailoring business and is able to support her family.
Lucy also benefited from the adult literacy classes where she acquired writing, reading and speaking skills. “The quality of my life has greatly improved. Today, I can read road signs and newspapers; I can express myself in English when I go to the doctor and understand medical prescriptions. I have gained confidence to speak in public, and I can also write both formal and informal letters. I am also a leader among the women in my circles and life is really good.”
Connect girls, inspire the future and help restore a woman in Africa today www.watoto.com/livinghope.