A Chance to Heal from War

I had never been outside my country, Uganda, except on rare occasions. Then came an invitation to attend the Healing from War Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya.

The reception at the airport was heartwarming. I met James and Maxwell, two kind people who later became members of my support group, “Men and War.” We would later talk about our experiences as men during war, the burden that is on our shoulders, how we could end war, and the dilemma of being men. We were quick to find common ground, because as young men we are passionate about the future—a future in which there’s hope and a possibility to be who we want to be. We are like brothers. We are aspiring to do great things and transform the world we live in.

At the workshop it became quite evident why we were there. We shared our stories: our experiences with war, our hurts, our fears, and our hopes. I listened to the stories. I thought about my own experiences. I had never healed from war at all, or even been given a chance to.

And there was Julian [Julian Weissglass, the International Commonality Reference Person for Wide World Change and the leader of the workshop], at the heart of the workshop—a white man who was taught from childhood that he was better than the rest. He wears an oppressor’s skin but has a heart for humanity. Stopping war is his crusade. So he guided us and helped us discharge.

I hate war. I hate slavery. And I hate colonialism. We cried, we yawned, and we trembled as we revisited the crime scenes we had buried in our souls—scenes that had made us feel less human, that had forever altered our destiny.

Our dreams, hopes, and aspirations led us at the end of the workshop to a realisation that we can no longer just sit down and do nothing. We can no longer afford to remain silent while our people are dying in war and often don’t even know they are being oppressed. We chose to do something, and that means beginning with ourselves.

So carry on [keep going forward], my brother. Carry on, my sister. Give me all the strength I need. I’ll see you again. Maybe by then you will have done something to end war. Maybe by then we will be Africans—not Luo, Luyia, Kikuyu, Hutu, or Tutsi. Maybe, just maybe!

Alfred Orem

Gulu, Uganda

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of wide world change

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00