once again, this July 9th, I will be joined by several folks for Rose's Journey. We will walk the 52 kilometers from my home village Bamunanika to Kiwoko hospital, where I first met my Irish parents almost 22 years ago. The reasons we walk, as we did July 2009, have not changed. The goals of the walk are three fold. One: we hope to continue raising awareness on the issue of child sacrifice in Uganda. The goal is to end child sacrifice, but more crucially, to also provide a wider platform for engaging the public and politicians to do their role by enacting appropriate laws and legislation to prosecute those involved in perpetuating these crimes. We also hope, that many of the unreached and affected children and families can come forward and be linked to existing child protection agencies (Lively minds, ANPPCAN Uganda) and other support organisations for victims of this crime. According to police reports, the slaying of children for ritualistic practices has steadily grown in Uganda in recent years. In 2007 at least 154 suspects (unofficial count) were arrested and only 50 of these went to court, But the number that ultimately went to prison is unknown. I suspect that most of these folks walked away. In 2008 more than 300 cases of murder and disappearances linked to ritual ceremonies were reported to the police with 18 cases making it to the courts. These can be depressing. The good news is that since the walk in 2009, there has been renewed interest in the topic with several world media outlets (20/20, BBC world news) highlighting the issue, and an official government police task force designated to tracking down perpetrators of the crime in Uganda. In addition, a hot line has since been established for families and communities to call the police in case of a sighted child kidnapping. There is a long way to go but we hope we can continue to build on this momentum.
Second, we hope to raise some money to support Hope ward, a charity wing of International hospital where some of the victims of child sacrifice have been able to receive some reconstructive surgery following severe mutilations by witch doctors. Hopeward also provides free advanced medical care to many destitute families who could never afford such services. Patients include: recipients of Uganda’s first open heart surgeries; cancer patients and treatment of complex conditions; victims of the war in northern Uganda; and abandoned children with HIV AIDS etc. Hopeward programs have also expanded to include community based programs (necessary to re-introduce children back into their communities where possible), and physiotherapy charity services that are needed for many of the patients who pass through Hopeward. For 15,000 dollars a year (to sponsor a bed), we are able to make services available to many of the patients who are admitted to that single bed. For details of what has been done with previous donations, please see our Narrow road web site http://narrowroadintl.org/Narrow_Road%3A_Hope_Ward.html for a recent news letter in case you missed it in the emails. I have also posted it here: http://narrowroadintl.org/Narrow_Road:_Hope_Ward_files/Hope%20Ward%20Update%20Jan2010Final.pdf
Third, we hope to raise some money for the nursing scholarship fund started in 2010. Through Rose's Journey we were able to raise 14,000 dollars towards the initial scholarships of nursing students at International Health Sciences University. We currently have 3 students who are receiving partial scholarships this June to help support their studies towards a bachelors degree in Nursing. The shortage of skilled nursing professionals in Uganda and other neighbouring countries is critical, and to be able to sustain programs such as the one's being provided on Hopeward (community based health care, acute care and care of children with complex conditions), we desperately need skilled and competent nurses at the front line of care. We decided on partial scholarships to allow shared responsibility with the surviving family members of each student. This also allows us to spread the money to cover not just one but several students in the program. This year, we hope we can raise 10,000 dollars towards this effort.
How to help: raising 25,000 dollars in the current economy is no simple task but any small contribution will be greatly appreciated. Several of us are walking all 52 kilometers. Please sponsor us for a kilometer or two or more as you feel led. We would also greatly appreciate your prayers for the walk and the fundraising efforts. More crucially for peace in Uganda. Eleven people are joining me from the USA and several others from the UK. A much larger group in Uganda will be part of the walk. Please pray that there will be minimal interferences from the police on the day of the walk.
To make a donation in the USA or follow us on the journey please go to our website http://narrowroadintl.org/Narrow_Road__Roses_Journey.html. (reference Rose's Journey). We are still working on the UK site. I will also keep this blog updated as much as possible.
I thank you most profoundly for being in this journey with me and many others. Whether you are able to walk with us, or pray, or encourage, or think about this work, your support keeps me grounded and inspired. I hope that this finds you all well.
Warm regards, and with gratitude,