James

James dreams of helping others...

After we drove through Gulu, Uganda,  it should have been a very short journey to Kitgum by kilometer, but the roads were terrible and full of potholes and the heat beat down on our car, air-conditioner had stopped at the beginning of the journey.   We were sweaty and miserable, our bodies stuck to the car seats.  We had not stopped but once in 8 hours.   That last leg of the journey was as long as the 4 hours to Gulu.  I felt miserable, hungry, thirsty.   I remember thinking this is the longest road in the world.   The road to Kitgum showed beautiful terrain, landscape full of African wildlife and flora.  The  occasional Acacia tree hovering over the land, and the towering cashew trees made me realize I had truly made it to Africa, yet this trip was so tiresome, and we just could not stop until we got there, we didn’t want to be driving at night, it was too dangerous.  I felt excitement, and dread to see the conditions that lay before me.  I was being prepared for a tiny taste of life after war. A very small bite of that life, so bitter and not at all nourishing.  Yet what I found was food for my very soul.   My life was changed by the children I met.  They fed the empty place in my heart.

I  traveled on North into the former war zone of Uganda, and seeing the signs of the city finally welcoming us to Kitgum, knowing I had reached my final destination.   It was so peaceful when we entered, people waving at me, smiling, but the land mine warning signs said this was once otherwise.  This was the place that I knew God had sent me.   Why I had come here to Uganda.   I knew after this trip I would feel I had accomplished something in my life, fulfilled what God wanted me to fulfill.  I have now my destiny, my purpose:  help the children of the war, the children of Uganda.   The children that are called the invisible ones…the former night wanderers… orphans… and the child soldiers.

I met one such young man, orphaned during the time he needed his parents to guide him through his early life, puberty, graduation.   It wasn’t to be for my special son James, an orphan of the war.  He was articulate, handsome and smiling continuously.  I would have never known he  had suffered so during his short life. He came to say goodbye to me and told me his story before he left on the bus to go back home to Gulu.   He had come on the bus to meet me!   I could not imagine, all that way on those roads!!

I have adopted him under God and hope somehow that you can hear his plea as I did.   He is honest, and forthcoming with me, and still remains innocent to a life with loving family. I am giving him support as a guiding parent would, and I know that his story will be received by the world as I received it.  I pray that his story touches your heart in a deep place.   I pray that you are so moved that it moves you to step out to help.

I met James on the first day I arrived, and he came to me with his story one evening and asked if I might be able to help him get a sponsor.   And I am here on my knees praying for this to happen for this young man.

James spoke very frankly to me of his time as a captured boy under the control of the LRA (Lords Resistance Army) and the devastating effects that losing his parents had on him, orphaning him when he was only 12 years old. He spoke of his life after escaping and now during the peaceful (cease-fire) times after the war, that has left him stricken by the effects of war over poverty in Northern Uganda.

He wrote his story for me, which caused him to have nightmares afterward.   Please keep James in your prayers for emotional healing.   James wasn’t a child for long.   He lives amongst one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes and crises in the world, Northern Uganda.

“My name is James Ariama, a young man of God.  In my life I am a boy who has been wounded and has pains all over the course of his life. I suffered in the bush for three years at the hands of the Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.  This was the worst time that any person can imagine.

After my primary (elementary education) during my vacation is when we started having attacks from the rebels and and sleepless nights.  We were forced to stay awake every night to protect ourselves.   The attack threats were on and off I could not really tell whether it was the real rebels of the Lords Resistance Army,  or just threats.

One day the whole community was amazed and shocked when more than 53 people where missing in the society.  A terrible investigation began and not even three days later the rebels attacked my family too.  I was only 12 years old.   The rebels stormed my home.  They took my parents and my young brother, and I remained  alone because during the course of trying to run away from the rebels, I ran another direction than my family because the attacks were in the night when everyone was most vulnerable. I never saw my parents again.

Kony and his army who killed my parents, destroyed all the family properties and structures and brutally abducted me.

The remaining clan members of the village a few days later also were dead.   I began my new life, a hopeless life as a child soldier/slave in the bush with no parents or relatives. I was and am still alone.

After the rebels took dozens of abductees both boys and girls to the bush, all our minds could no longer focus on anything, which is human, but rather we were brainwashed and had destructive minds, and we became friendly to the inhabitants of the forest and the bush. I really encountered a lot of suffering in the bush, some which are still too hard to describe and continue to haunt me in the dark.

I served as a boy that carried excess guns and bullets for the rebels.  I carried everything that was of heavy weight.   I supplied and carried food to the rebels during the journey in the bush. We would sleep in open bush fields,  using grasses as our mattresses and blankets. All mosquitoes and other predators used their advantage on us.   This was no existence for a young boy, only survival.

We usually ate raw food, such as meat from dead animals and blood and meat from dead people under enforcement from the top officers. Failure to obey would be death. It was a miserable and terrible condition of life.

One day, when I attempted an escape, I almost died because a bullet came from nowhere.  God was with me that day, and because of God’s hand, it just grazed tip of my hair since I had much hair on the head. I bled but it stopped after some few minutes. I was very lucky not to have been killed.

We used medicines as forms of healing, and witchcraft was the final game for all the decision making that the rebels undertook. We always believed in the spirits of the dead. Every dead body would be buried under water possibly on the banks of the river or on streams of water and this would be done by us young soldiers immediately. We used to move long distances while carrying guns and bullets, but whenever somebody would complain of tiredness, the best answer from the rebel leaders was just to shoot them and eventually that child or person was left there to die.   So my time with the rebels was much worse than slavery.

My real break at life began one evening when there was serious fighting between the rebels and the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF).  It was a crucial and ferocious battle, which lasted for more than six hours. During the fighting it rained heavily and many people thought of escaping the clutch of the rebels, but you couldn’t see where to start from or where to go.

God’s favor was upon us. We were told to go and collect water tanks as it was our normal custom. So I took this advantage of this situation to run away in the neighborhood forest known as the Kichwamba, but again the conditions worsened as a dreadful fear developed inside of me.    I stayed and hid in the forest three days without eating any food. The only food of mine was to fruits from the forest and drinking stagnant water.

After three days,  I saw the government army patrolling the forest. I thought that they would kill me, but they questioned me and knew that I was ignorant. I was taken to the IDP camps (internally displaced persons) where I started catching up from the hardship I had just endured.

To this day I remain parent-less, hopeless and a miserable person, except for my faith in God.  He will never forsake me, never leave me.”


After I returned back to Texas, James wrote to me asking me to help him choose his career path, and we exchanged ideas much the way a parent and child would talk about college plans and the future.   James currently lives with other acquaintances in the slums in Gulu.  He is a brilliant and gifted young mind and I intend to see him through his education!!!  James wrote me this letter recently, and I was even more touched and wanted to help James in a very significant way.  A young man so hungry for one person to care about his future.

Dear Mum,

I shared my story with you so that with GOD’s will somebody will get up and help in this trouble and struggle of education I have.   There really is no hope here without.   I  really need your help, and I know that God is arranging this for me.

I really appreciate and thank you so so much for encouraging me and giving parental hope and good future.  I have always been scared by myself, because there is nobody that can give me comfort and hope.   I had really lost all hope.   I appreciate you a lot.

Love, your son,

James

We will see the future Dr. James Ariama walk as an Advance High School Graduate soon, and I hope that you will be a part of making this child’s future dreams come true!!!  If you can help his dream to become a village doctor and attend Medical School,  by sponsoring James, we will forever thank you.    We will provide quarterly updates and photos from James as he enters the university.   He will be so grateful if you can help!!!

I will set up specific paypal buttons for individual tuition/books needs in the near future but we are desperate to get the $150.00  he needs to graduate right away!!   Any overage that I receive on this first plea 7/12/10,  will go to his college fund for fall.

James will need in the future, books, tuition, internet services.  We are happy to also get this young man clothing and funds for food and lodging if someone desires to do this for him as well.

Sincerely,

Lori Scott

To assist James with his Advanced Level Educational Plans:

Donate by Paypal (all donations are tax-deductible):



OR

Set up a monthly sponsorship of James’ Educational Needs (books, tuition, school supplies, internet for research, food, clothing)





OR

You may pay by check: Make payable to “Little Miracles International” on the “for” identification line of the check, please write the “James Ariama, Educational Fund” and send to:

Humanitarian Projects
Little Miracles International
PO BOX 19776
Amarillo, Texas 79114

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4 Comments on Meet James, Ex-LRA Child Soldier

  1. Peter says:

    For an indepth look at Joseph Kony and the LRA, see the book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army.

  2. Niemiec says:

    interesting articles

  3. betat says:

    You post awesome articles. Bookmarked for future referrence !

  4. Lori says:

    Thanks all for your comments. This boy is a wonderful kid and I certainly hope we can help him. We have half of the money raised for his High School Finals.

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