Healing transforms war survivor's life
Ochaya Bosco, 55 with 4 children from Achiru North, in Agago district lived for 22 years with retained bomb splinters from the LRA war. In 2018, he received rehabilitative surgery from the Medical and Psycho-social rehabilitation program implemented by African Youth Initiative Network.
“In 1996, soldiers who carried radio calls and guns raided our home and captured me along with my four brothers. Ropes were tied to our waists joining a long list of others and we started to walk towards South Sudan”
Bosco added that their young children and wives were left scared and unsure of their fate.
Upon reaching Palodea in Kitgum, Palabek, the rebels told them ground rules of living in captivity including how to run from the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers.
“For 97 kilometers, we were walking on foot. I was given to carry a sack of groundnuts of about 40kgs – if you threw it down, you would be killed.”
The UPDF were constantly attacking the rebel forces at the time and would often succeed in pushing them northwards into South Sudan. Captives were forced to fight, however, many of the innocent victims had no battle experience or training and suffered injuries and many more died in such attacks.
At about this point, the UPDF began to throw bombs with airplanes and he remembers others were killed in the process. They were now scattered running away from plane assaults and he ran till he found himself in Okidi, a village in Kitgum district.
“It was around 2:00pm that I just felt cold on my shoulders, we found ourselves about 11 people, thats when I saw the blood on my side from the bomb splinter… I went to hospital and got painkillers as I could not afford the amount of surgery fees from the Kalongo hospital”
Back at home, Bosco was grateful to have escaped captivity, although the pain would impact his life for the next 22 years.
“My arm would get paralyzed, painful and stuck.” It happened so frequently when they were out farming together and his wife would lament on how their home was being affected as a result of the war injury.
In July 2018, Justin Toonyero, a community mobilizer working for AYINET in Kalongo visited Bosco and told him about the rehabilitative program that provides surgical operations for victims of war and torture like him. He happily enrolled and was taken to the surgical camp at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Kitgum.
He was hopeful that he would finally get help.
“I found other colleagues at the hospital who had already been worked on and were recovering; this gave me a lot of relieve and confidence.”
At the hospital, the part in his arm where the splinter was retained was rotten: The doctors operated and the splinter was eventually removed.
Bosco, with a wide grin, recalls his wife welcoming him home,
“Your face is smooth and you are looking great! What have you been eating there?”, “I told her we were taken good care of at the hospital and we were all full of laughter, All my family and relatives were elated and came to visit us.”
With the splinters and pain out of the way, life has taken a turn for Bosco and his family,
“I no longer feel pain and work well without any challenge and no worries about the future. I can go easily to garden without fearing cold. I am paying my children after harvesting 4 sacks that fetched almost a million shillings; an amount I could not be able to raise before.”
“I can forgive the captors now that I am healed. For me, I feel justice has been provided through relief from this pain.
The Medical and psychosocial project implemented by AYINET is supported by The Democratic Governance Facility.