2 February 2011
Since September 2010, Watoto has been taking the story of war-afflicted northern Uganda around the world in a live-performance dubbed Restore Tour: Child Soldier No More. Although the script is centred on the chronicles of the former child soldier, the realities of the treatment of women in society; before, during and after the conflict; is also poignantly presented.
One story is retold by team member, Gladys Oyenbot. At the height of the war, Gladys' character is left in pain when her children are carried off by the rebel soldiers during the infamous child abductions. Her husband is killed before her very eyes. And it’s a sheer miracle that her life is spared. Many women experienced the same and worse atrocities during the civil war. Those who survived death or abduction, were often raped, maimed or suffered facial mutilation.
And when the war was finally over, with little or no education, there was no gainful employment for these women. In addition to that, almost all of them were left HIV+, with children by the rebel soldiers to care for and ostracised by family and society.
In the production, Gladys is resilient. She is determined to get back on her feet and is actively involved in liberating others who had been victimised. Despite her pain and desperation, she inspires her community to rise from the ashes. Her words of comfort through song bring men, women and children together with the single purpose to rebuild their community. The highlight of the live event is the return of an abducted child to her mother.
The reconciliation is moving and sets off jubilation in the village with high-energy dance, song and celebration.
While launching the 2010 State of the World Population report, UNFPA Uganda Representative Janet Jackson noted that, “The testimonies of both men and women from Uganda tell a powerful story of conflict peace and reconciliation, but they also show how much women lose during conflict. Equally important, they show how much is at stake for societies when there is continued exclusion of women in the process of the post conflict rebuilding and recovery of their communities.”
Watoto’s Living Hope was launched to restore the lives of such women. Initiated in early 2008, the programme is currently committed to transforming the lives of more than 2,100 women in Uganda.
Left abandoned or widowed, the target group is HIV+ single women, returnees from abduction into the rebel army and teenage mothers. The goal is to restore dignity to these women by improving quality of life, assisting them with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care; providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care including counselling and psychosocial support; spiritual and moral discipleship; empowering and equipping them with vocational skills that will enable them to become productive members of their community; and setting up self sustainable income generating projects using micro-finance loans.
Write to us today at email@example.com to see how you can get involved in supporting Watoto’s work with vulnerable women in northern Uganda. And invite a friend to see Watoto's Restore Tour: Child Soldier No More www.restoretour.com.