On Sunday, merely 40kms separated me from a tragic terrorist attack. Never before had I been so close to the blatant hate and madness that was the bombing. Over 70 people were killed, including one American. Kampala is a city that I frequent often, in fact I had spent the day there on Friday. I could have been there. Easily. The team usually goes out to sports bars to watch the world cup games anyway. After the bombings, HELP put us on lockdown. All 24 of us stayed inside our little house for two days straight.
We all stared ahead, as our country directors informed us that they got word that more attacks were planned. I clung to my friend Chelsea and my terror was reflected in her face when I turned to look at her. All the sudden all the images from the Rwandan genocide came rushing over me, as I contemplated what an attack meant. We had heard rumors of the LRA returning and that plunged me further into my crippling fear.
Two weekends ago, I went to Gulu. Gulu is a Northern region of Uganda that has been afflicted with a civil war for the past 15 years. The LRA (Lord's Resistant Army) abducted children, brainwashed them, and then set them to attack their own villages. It has only been in the past 4 years that the LRA has left the area.
As I sat in our tiny house on Monday night and couldn't get a grasp on my fear, I realized with horror that this uncertainty was what those children felt every single night as they slept in the bush to avoid abduction. Every single night. As soon as I realized this, I lost it and just broke down and cried. Even after being in Gulu I hadn't understood.
And then the clouds broke and I knew that if I continued in fear that the terrorists had won. I couldn't let my life be dictated by terror anymore. The next day, they let us out of the house and ever since I have been trying to live life to the fullest. If I die, then it will be God's will. There's no way I'll be living my life huddled in a corner - scared of another attack.
When I was in Gulu, I was amazed and fascinated by the strength of the people. How could they move on from such a tragedy? Why were they so happy after going through so much. Now I know. It's the only to keep sane.