Friday, February 20, 2009


So...again with more bad luck. All of my pictures from my camera were deleted. I was messing with the settings and accidentally reformatted the card and EVERYTHING is gone. All of the photos from home, basically everything since December AND everything that I had taken here. I am really trying to just put in into perspective and remember that they are just photos., but its frustrating.

On Wednesday we drove to Kitgum, which is about a two hour drive from Gulu. The first day we met with an organization called Straight Talk. They work a lot with youth and the impact of the conflict. We went to a community of child mothers, most of whom had been abducted and then became pregnant in the bush and are now young mothers. Many do not have husbands and they all have not been accepted back into the community because of the fact that they have a child and are a single mother. It was extemely heartbreaking to hear their stories. They asked used what we were going to do for them, and it is hard to say "well, nothing directly, we are just here as students learning about the problems."

Thursday we did some research for Straight Talk and met with a group of youth. We interviewed them about the idea of becoming youth leaders and what kind of training would be most helpful for them to take back to the community. We then went to an IDP camp/community and asked the other side. What they felt about youth leaders, since usually the elders are the main leaders, and what kind of services are most needed in the community. I met this mother named Irene and her baby Justin. (Everyone usually has an English/Christian name besides their Acholi name) The mother let me hold him and he was so adorable and just played with my hair and my hands. He was only 9 months old, and most likely born in the bush or born from a mother who was pregnant in the bush by rebels. Even when he puked all over me, he just pulled at my heart. The next day we gave presentations to those at Straight Talk about our findings and I felt like we did something really helpful for the organization.

On the other hand, everywhere we go we only meet with these woman or youth for maybe an hour and then are pulled away. Its been difficult actually being able to form any significant relationship with anyone. You meet people and you feel some connection, and then to realize that you may never see them again. Along with this, most people we talk to ask how we are going to help them. They want answers, and I am really struggling internally with myself on this issue of what I really doing here. Education aside, how am I helping anyone really by just asking questions. I am feeling really selfish in the sense that I am here gaining all this knowledge and not forming any relationships, and am only staying in each place for a couple of weeks. How am I helping or making an impact on the people who are really suffering and needs answers, and need help. Even when I try to explain why I am here, as a student, trying to learn and understand-the response is still, but how are you going to help US?

I think this will be an issue that I struggle with the entire time that I am here...


  1. What an update! Please don't worry about your pictures there will be so many more to take!!! Remember, everything that you learn, you can bring that knowledge home and become an advocate for these young women. You can help them! It may just take some time to find the right Non-profit organization that is a perfect match for what you want to be able to do. Just letting these young women know that people do care and that at some point things will improve will be of some comfort to them. I am so proud of you. Love MOM & Dad

  2. Thanks for the laptop usage! hahaha

    stay safe and keep the stories coming


  3. I feel your frustration. I can't imagine being introduced and exposed to their problems and not having the ability to do a thing about it. However, look at it from this prospective, if you had not been made aware of the extreme maladies they are withstanding you would not have developed the same heart-felt desire to help them. I feel certain that in time you will have a positive impact on some of these women. Stay focused and strong! I am proud to know you. Love and hugs, Cara

  4. Hi Michelle,
    Your new update was so very interesting. Not to worry about the photos, just take more. You have them in you memory bank!
    You will be able to help these people eventually in your own way. The experience you are having is amazing. I am so glad you are feeling better now. Stay healthy & be safe. Love you, love you.. Grama

  5. My goodness Michelle,
    I'm sorry about your pictures, but you have those images in your head, I know it's not the same, but you won't forget them, I'm sure. Don't question why you are there, you have to start somewhere, and education is where it starts. From this experience, you will be richer, and have the knowledge to spark ideas to help these people in some way. I imagine just the fact that you are there, is hope for them, that someone is trying to do something. Be positive, be safe, and healthy. You make us so proud!
    Love you so much, A. Gina

  6. hey stinky butt, well to start with im really sorry about your pics i have done the same. not sure if this will help for a response to the people but you can tell them that you have to travel to the different tribes to figure out a how to help all of them. that helping one tribe is great but all of them is even better. kepp your head up and know that i love you and that im very proud of you.