When I visited Opac Village, northern Uganda, in 2007, 4500 families were trickling back home empty-handed: promised resettlement packets including building materials, seeds, hoes and blankets were not distributed to them on leaving the camps. The village clan elders faced the challenge of guiding their people through the chaos of camp life back to the orderly rhythms of a farming village. On a wall of their one retail store in the village, they wrote a new motto: kel kuc pacu (pron. kel kooch pah’ choo) “Bring Peace Home” as a beacon to guide their work and to rekindle the hopes of returnees.
Sitting one evening on the porch of that store, the elders spoke earnestly of the difficult circumstances surrounding the resettlement of so many in so short a time: what of housing, what of food, what of health care, what of the effects on the environment, particularly the trees and reeds used in building grass-thatched homes and in providing easy, immediate income through sale of firewood and charcoal? These men asked if I could be their voice in the English-speaking world to get help for their village.
Now, two years later, I know that even small donations can make a big difference in a village that is starting over. I tell you this story in the hope that you too would like to contribute to this partnership with people so far away and would consider joining me on the porch of that small store in Opac three years from now to converse with the clan elders, to hear their report which we hope will sound different, and to conclude that we have been of good service to “bring peace home.”
William Boto, President