Karamoja, Uganda – Heart-rending Stories from an Unfolding Emergency

I begin my letter today by meditating and reflecting on the words of Fr Michael Corcoran MHM in the just concluded general chapter meeting. He says:

“Such an urgent mission requires personal and communal conversion. opening our hearts to interpret the signs of the times and to be receptive to the appeals of hope and peace of needy humanity our “genetic code” as Mill Hill Missionaries drives us to come close, with simplicity, to those who suffer most; the sick, the children, the abandoned, the elderly and the poor… ” 

These words continue to captivate me, never before have I seen the motto, ” loving service, living more faithfully” of  the Mill Hill missionaries so applicable to the needs of those who have been neglected and thrown to the margins of society. 

The current Karamoja food crisis is quite unprecedented . People have lost their lives both to insecurity and to hunger. One old man told me: ” if you survive the bullet, you can’t survive hunger”. This has profoundly affected the social welfare of the people in Karamoja, making their lives a daily struggle for survival . Parents in some villages have to tie up their starving children by ropes to prevent them from stealing; other children are placed in ‘edula’ local granaries as a means of restricting them from going to other people’s homes and being beaten to death. One person narrated: ” we found a mother who was brutally beaten due to stealing just to give life to her children”. People survive on wild grass that takes a lot of effort to squeeze some seeds from them to eat.  Some people here have already died and others are in danger of starvation, only waiting to face their graves if not rescued.

The local people here are flooding the parishes seeking help, but the numbers are overwhelming and the parishes can’t cope. Fr. Ignatius Nshing MHM has tried to appeal to the local communities to give a hand, as the Government hasn’t responded to the needs of these people. Children have not been able to access school due to the crisis. In Nakapelimoru  – large settlement – the population is diminishing each passing day, people are dying and being buried by their relatives during the night, here, survival of the fittest. These are a few of the many stories of an unfolding human catastrophy.

The Pope’s message in the encyclical “Laudato si” that focuses on the world as our common home, looks at protecting the common nature. The drought cased by global warming  needs to be addressed in order to save the lives of the dying people in Karamoja. These issues need to be addressed by encouraging young people to go to school, planting trees, promoting agriculture by providing tractors and other farming equipment, and building more schools in these areas of mission. This could be long term solutions to the many challenges faced in this part of the world.

We seek your help and prayers in this hard time of struggle so as to survive.

Mathias Makoba. (STUDENT)


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