1.0 The “Kony” Problem
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is a militant group that was formed in 1987 in the Acholi ethnic region of Northern Uganda. Initially, the LRA was an outgrowth and continuation of the larger armed resistance movement waged by some of the Acholi people against a central Ugandan government which they felt marginalized them at the expense of Southern Ugandan ethnic groups. According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NCSTR) at the University of Maryland, for over 20 years the group has been operating in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (NCSTR, 2011).
According to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, and forcing children to participate in hostilities. There have also been reports of cannibalism and the sexual enslavement of children (ICC, 2005). All these terrorist actions have left a big population of displaced, homeless, orphans and emotionally and physically hurting.
Though Joseph Kony, has been forced out of Uganda, the effects of his actions are still prevalent in Northern Uganda – the cries of the hurting children are still loud; the agony of the homeless, the physically hurting, the emotional hurt, the educational needs can never be underestimated. Amidst all these pains and need for rebuilding, the local people in Northern Uganda are still scared about the possible return of Joseph Kony. A local Ugandan news paper (The Monitor) publication on 9th March 2012 noted that in 2012, the attacks that Kony makes in Congo are almost daily. At least 10 people have been abducted and 3,000 displaced in 20 attacks in the Orientale province in north eastern DR Congo this year (Monitor, 2012).
It is therefore very crucial for both local and international organizations to continue working in Northern Uganda with the objectives of: rebuilding the devastated area; meeting the medical and emotional needs of especially the children and women as well as responding to educational and livelihood needs. Based on this understanding, since 2005 True Vine Ministries, Mukono Uganda has been working in Northern Uganda. For the last 8 years, True Vine has been having a presence in Northern Uganda and together with her partners to rebuild and transform that region. The ministry seeks to strategically continue responding to the needs in Northern Uganda.
2.0 True Vine Ministries and partners in Northern Uganda.
2.1 True Vine Ministries
True Vine Christian Ministries International was birthed in 1999 by Pastor Stephen & Jessica Kibirango. The ministry started with a membership of 9: 4 women (1 of them being HIV+) and 5 men. The HIV+ woman passed on living her four children in the hands of Pastor Stephen Kibirango who adopted them and stayed with them in his house. They have grown up and are now professionals (2 Teachers and 2 Mechanics).
Today, the ministry has grown into one of the biggest ministries in the country. The ministry is involved in:
Ø Church planting, support and discipleship. Currently, the main church has opened up 4 True vine Rural churches and 2 True vine rural churches to be opened this year. The ministry also provides support and over sees hundreds of churches under the Fellowship of Gateway Pentecostal Churches (FEGAPE) fellowship
Ø Education and support to vulnerable children. The ministry has a Primary School (K – P7) (Victors’ Junior Christian School). The school has an enrolment of 1100 pupils (day and boarding).
Ø Northern Uganda Education and other needs program. Through this program, the ministry has relocated children from Northen Uganda and brought them to the School and home. The ministry meets their educational needs as well as clothing and feeding. During holidays, the children do not go back to Gulu but they stay with foster parents who support them and love them. Since these children have been emotionally hurt due the LRA atrocities, the ministry has social workers who counsel them and pray with them. These children also have a myriad of medical needs and the ministry has a small clinic with one nurse to treat the children. The ministry intends to support some more 100 children from northern Uganda. There is an immediate need of a medical centre that will serve and meet the many medical needs of the Northern Uganda Children that will be supported through this program in future.
Ø Northern Uganda Agricultural Support program. Through this program, the ministry through the local churches in Northern Uganda has been training local farmers in using sustainable agricultural methods. The ministry has also provided oxen and oxen ploughs for the farmers in Northern Uganda.
Ø Support to widows, single parents and other vulnerable individuals and households. The ministry has been doing this through the Women of destiny ministry. The ministry also reaches out to the elderly and disabled and the very poor in the communities around Mukono.
Ø Agriculture (Animal and Crop husbandry): for sustainability (income generation), reaching out to communities and food for the children. The ministry has established coffee farms, banana farms as well as farms for maize, cassava and other annual crops. The ministry has cows and fish ponds to provide milk and fish respectively for the school children. The farms provide all the food for the children in the school/farm including the children from Northern Uganda. In all the villages where the ministry has established the agricultural farms, the ministry also plants churches to minister to local people.
Ø Northern Uganda medical missions. The ministry has been doing medical missions in northern Uganda. The future plan is to establish a medical centre in mukono to meet the medical needs of the children at the school including those we bring to the home from Northern Uganda. The pictures below show some of our previous medical missions in Northern Uganda.
2.2 Partners in Northern Uganda
True vine ministries has partnership with several local churches in Northern Uganda. These partner churches are the ones that responsible for all the coordination related to implementing projects in that region.
3.0 Future Program in Northern Uganda.
True vine ministries seeks to continue with its programs in Northern Uganda.
In the next 5 years, the ministry seeks to:
1. Through the Northern Uganda Education and other needs program which has been running since 2005, the ministry seeks to support another 100 pupils from Northern Uganda at Victors Junior School.
2. To construct a medical centre in Mukono. The medical centre will be used by the social workers and medical staff to provide the emotional and medical needs of the children from Gulu. It will also serve other pupils at the school as well as the community in Mukono. Currently, there is no government hospital in Mukono district part from the Health centre level IV which is under staffed and underfunded and hence lacks supplies and equipment.
3. Through the Northern Uganda Agricultural Support program which has been running since 2005, the ministry seeks to continue supporting local people in Gulu to gain capacity for them to do subsistence agriculture. This will help to reduce the levels of malnutrition among the under five year children, increase food security as well as reduce poverty.