Living on the edge…displaced people in the Acholi Quarters, Uganda

It’s already Monday morning…hard to believe we have only three days left. Difficult to sort through our thoughts as it’s all pretty intense but we wanted to share a little more with you as we have some time before we go to visit our students at the secondary school…

So began the letter written in Uganda by Jan and Stephanie, mother and daughter on a mission trip with Loving One by One Ministries.

When we visit the Acholi Quarters, which we did on Saturday, it’s a favorite. The Acholi people are from northern Uganda and many years back were forced out of the north down to the Kampala Capital area where at least 11,000 people have “settled” on this one hill, on the edge of the rock quarry. They were essentially escaping from all the murder and mayhem set upon them by Joseph Kony and the LRA. Many of you will be familiar with the worldwide campaign against the atrocities of the LRA and Joseph Kony as they were taking young boys and forcing them into their army while young girls became sex-slaves. Others were just slaughtered…evil personified. Kony left a trail of blood and death and tragedy. The Acholi now call this area, “home.”

Jan Photo 1

Sorry to begin with such a dark story but their story of survival and resilience is pretty amazing. They are ‘slum dwellers’ but having visited them multiple times over the years we are always blessed. We see several we ‘know’ from past visits, some whose health back then was precarious at best, and we are always struck by their smiles and gratefulness that has the effect of somewhat diminishing the conditions in which they live. We did a full medical clinic in Acholi and gave out deworming pills to at least 1,300 children and young people. Yes, 1,300! We are their medical care and they depend on us, on groups like us, who are consistent in coming back repeatedly. They know we can be counted on to be there for them!

After deworming, we had a full medical clinic for another 1,000 plus. And because our Ugandan doctors inadvertently had gone to a different area initially and were late in coming to where we were, the first hour and a half moved slowly. This turned out great because that gave us many opportunities to talk and pray with many of those at the clinic and that is always a sweet blessing. Here again, their countless ‘thank you’s’, ’God bless you’ and ‘you are welcome here’ are so humbling and heart warming. Joy and sweetness on their faces…they have nothing, yet share with us at such a deep level.

jan replace


One terribly sad and horrifying story I must share was of a young child, maybe 3 years old, who came to the clinic early on crying uncontrollably with severely burned hands. No one ‘claimed’ him/her…yes, very often you can’t readily tell the gender….but can you imagine not keeping track of your little one, let alone when they were in desperate need of medical care? But as we slowly learned, apparently her step-mother had burned her as a form of punishment. Heartbreaking, but sadly not an uncommon story. It is still unfolding but one of our hosts went to the police, finding this is at least a second report on this woman. Not sure about the father and truthfully whether it’s the step-mother or actually the mother. Stories are so twisted and it’s very hard to find out the truth. Our host is on this to find out the truth and the police are supposedly and hopefully researching the circumstances. Praying for this child and countless others whose ‘stories’ may be known only to God…May He truly be the “Father to the fatherless.”

But there is good news in the bad….many local Christians are outspoken about their faith and pray openly and without shame or fear. But when we are confronted with the hard stories, like the one just shared, we know there are countless others of which we are not aware. So here’s where we can do only what is in front of us, what God shows us and who He brings to us. We operate only in His strength and by His guidance.

Jan photo 2

It is desperately hard at the end of a slum or village clinic to get on our bus and see those precious children smiling and waving…as we head back to our guest house, to showers and beds, food and clean water. But we are blessed and touched beyond measure and thank the Lord for the privilege of being there….

On MissionFinder, we have over 2,000 ministries offering opportunities like this to serve at home and around the world. Stephanie and Jan’s mission trip was hosted by Loving One by One Ministries.

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