War Survivor’s life Restored after 20 years of pain
40-year old Akello Scovia (not her real name) lives in Agago district, Lakwa, Kasisiro West, with a family of 6 children. Due to injuries sustained during the LRA war, Scovia had been living with a bullet/bomb splinter in her arm for over twenty years when, in 2018, the African Youth Initiative Network provided the resources for surgical repair and extraction of the splinter.
This is her story:
“I was 16 years old, in 1989 in P.6 in Kitgum. We lived within the barracks. The barracks surrounded our home in Gang dyang, near St. Theresa girls school.”
The barracks were home to UPDF soldiers, who always tried to protect the residents from the constant fights between the soldiers and the LRA rebels.
“The soldiers were overpowered and retreated to the hill from where they were firing heavy artillery towards the rebels who had now surrounded our home. A tree just over our house was hit, it fell through the roof of the house and splinters spread inside the house.
“The rebels were now singing outside our home, singing local church songs. They wore rosaries and held knives, some were in ashes while others were in ‘kanzus’.”
The rebels told them to get out of the house. Terrified, Akello opened the door. The residents were handed over to some of the rebel soldiers. There was a stretch of civilians tied with ropes in a caravan form. The men had ropes tied on their trousers and the women on the arms.
Her auntie was beaten and left to go back as she had a baby. Akello was tied on to the rest. They walked to a place called Langwilu in Kitgum, all the while, the UPDF were still in pursuit. As the rebels turned their attention to fight the UPDF soldiers, they got scattered and got opportunities to run.
Running along with her friends, Akello finally got to a main road where there were convoys of UPDF soldiers moving. The soldiers took them to the barracks where her father found her. However, the doctors at the barracks were unable to remove the splinter she had taken into her left arm.
After two terms that year of school, the pain grew so bad that she could no longer continue her lessons.
“My hands would get paralyzed. I could not dig nor carry water. I got flashbacks every time people narrated their war experiences.”
For more than twenty years, Akello lived with the splinter in her arm. She was unable to work and contribute to her family’s wellbeing, and unable to dig and do productive farming. In 2017, The LC 1 of her village, Kasisiro West, informed Akello of AYINET’s medical and psychosocial rehabilitation program. She was happy to hear the news that it would now be possible for her to get surgical help and relief from the splinter in her arm.
In August, she was taken to the surgical camp in Kitgum, where the splinter was extracted from her arm.
“I thought the operation would be very hard but after being talked to and eventually operated on, I was released in a month’s time.”
Akello in her garden
Upon her return, many friends were happy to see her back home and healed as they saw that it meant that they too could have opportunity to get help themselves as they too had bullets retained in their bodies.
“My husband is happy for the relief from the pain. We now look forward to taking care of our children and giving them a good education. We now cultivate up to 5 gardens and can plant crops like sorghum and cotton”