Thursday, January 17, 2013

Children of the Night

Children of the Night
            As I sit here to write this week’s article I am filled with anger and severe sadness. The 49ers just won their spot in the playoffs and San Francisco and many other cities around the country are in celebration, for that I am thankful and elated. I love something that brings people together in celebration. How lucky we are to live in a country where our children can enjoy the moment of celebration with their parents as they won. But in Africa thousands of children right now are being stolen in the middle of the night. No Television, dinner with family or even a bed to lay on tonight.  They are the victims of the LRA and are now being trained and sent into a meaningless war. A war that is not a war by any regards other than Joseph Kony and his sickening attempt to destroy. The children of the night are forced to murder their parents, rape their sisters and eat body parts of the bloodied innocent to show their loyalty. On October 9th 1996, 139 girls between the ages of 12 & 15 were taken in the dark of the night as they slept. They were students of St. Mary’s College of Northern Uganda.
Those young girls were forced to become sex slaves for Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA. The girls were not only sex slaves but also made to fetch water miles away from camps, most bloodied by rape and physical torture. Ayako, survived a vicious attack from Kony and the LRA as she was forced to watch the brutal murder of her husband and two children. Kony burned down her house and plucked one of her eyes out with a wire. Her lips and nose were cut off as she was forced to eat them. If she cried they would slit her throat.
This is one of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of torturous deaths since Joseph Kony started his sadistic rampage in 1987 but the group has no political party. He claims to be fighting under God's orders to establish a society based on the Bible's Ten Commandments. He has led a campaign and committed atrocities throughout Northern Uganda, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

As you read this article children are being abducted, raped, physically and mentally tortured.  As you ponder that thought, hundreds just exhaled their last breath. These are children, innocent beings that are guilty of nothing more than being born in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no lesson in this for these children, no great message that will inspire them to see the silver lining. These children only know death, fear and despair. Kony’s children and victims literally live what we would only call the epitome of hell on earth. The organization is believed to have murdered tens of thousands of people, abducted at least 30,000 children to work as sex slaves or soldiers and forced more than 1.5million people to flee their homes. As of this date the numbers are much higher.
Uganda's army has theoretically hunted the organization’s leaders but Kony has continually evaded capture - at times arrogantly even emerging from the jungle to give interviews to journalists before disappearing again. Last October American president Barack Obama announced he was sending troops to help the hunt for the LRA. Around 100 US soldiers have since been deployed in the region to help local officials trace the mass killer, but more needs to be done. This is no longer a pilgrimage or war about freeing these children from the grips of satan himself but merely a plea to all of humanity to not forget what is not in front of their face every day. Everyone was on the Kony train back in March when the movie “Invisible Children” by Jason Russell was released on YouTube. It gained huge popularity with movie stars and Facebook. I was even someone who posted “Kony 2012” on my Facebook, and I was one of the people who forgot as quickly as the football season started and winter grew upon us. I too forgot about the children and the cause, the torture and the death. But we can’t forget about humans. Not when the cost of a cup of coffee can save a life or when children like Malala Yousafzai fight for their education. As young children are being traded for sex unfolding in our own backyards we need to pay attention. I know one person cannot save a population of human suffering and need, but one person can plant a seed that will grow and embrace all that stands under its shade, just as an old oak provides shelter to all that seeks it. It takes every one of us to remember and act to make a difference. Please visit the following sites to see how you can help by planting one little seedling giving them a chance to be the Children of the Light.

Elizabeth Cheryl

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