My Life Awakened
Apiyo sarah (not her real names) was abducted in 1997 and returned in 2005, a few month after her abduction , Apiyo’s elder sister and step brother fell in a trap of the rebels while they found their way to town,
Apiyo’s sister was sexually abused , beaten and left for dead while her step brother was abducted .
“I was saddened to see my half-brother in the LRA camp; with tears in his eyes he broke the news about my elder sister’s death. I clinged and cuddled him like a baby as the guards beat us so hard trying to separate me from my half -brother.
My brother was recruited into the LRA army as a “kadogo” after 4 years in captivity my half-brother died in an ambush in one of the raids. I managed to get the news about his death but there was no way I could pass the message to the home people.
After years I managed to escape from the LRA base in south Sudan. I was rescued by the army taken to a reception center and later returned home. I was very surprised to meet my elder sister whom I thought was dead. At home there was already tension between my mother and my step mother as they accused my sister for laying a trap for me to kidnap my brother, when I broke the news of my half-brothers death the tension increased my step mother didn’t have kind words for me and my family . Saying I would have been the dead one, Why was I left while my brother was killed?”
The hatred and desire for revenge increased, as they often referred to me as “Anek” meaning killer. As custom demands that anyone involved in murder should pay money and cows as means of compensation commonly known as “Culu Kwor” in Acholi. “I was so helpless and felt so guilty for my brother’s kidnap and death . In the whole village my step mother influenced people’s attitude and perception towards me inciting hate. Many judged me, pointed fingers and mocked me. The hatred had penetrated deeper that the clan elders and religious leaders attempt to reconcile us was futile.”
I decided to leave home as the situation intensified and besides I couldn’t afford to pay for compensation.
“ It was an intervention by youth trained by AYINET who came up and helped us reconciled when I shared my story with them, they took me through the healing and reconciliation process , they arranged meetings for me, my family, clan and church leaders in July 2014. It was in March 2015 when the storm finally came to an end, with tears rolling out of her eyes, my step mother and brother fully embraced, forgave and asked me to come back home. I was free from the pain and hatred at last.
After the reconciliation and reunion, a cleansing ritual traditionally known as “Kiir” was carried out by my clan leader to mark peace between me and my step family.
Am now able to live happily with my steps mother and brethren’s, since am no longer being accused as it was in the past and life is more bearable and I see a lot of possibilities.”
AYINET’s support is strengthening the adoption of transitional justice mechanisms as it also clearly shows the roles of youth participation in peace building.