"I chose to let go."
She was 11 years old when she would have her first direct encounter with the rebels. Jennifer was walking with her closest friend from the hospital back to the internal displacement camp - their "home" during the insurgency in the region. As they walked and chatted along the way a man approached them and encourage them to walk a different route back to the camp. He wasn't dressed like a rebel so they felt they could trust him. They soon realized that the enemy doesn't always look the way they expected. He walked them to a school and upon entering the school Jennifer and her friend would find many of their age mates that had been abducted by the LRA (Lords Resistance Army). She estimated that there were over 200 children in the school. The rebels had taken captive each of them and was forcing them to fight alongside them. The rebels would force Jennifer and her friend to carry heavy bags in a line to the next school where they would find more children. She and her friend were forced to carry a very heavy bag of dried beans. Secretly, Jennifer and her friend pierced the burlap bag and created a small hole. This way the beans would slowly fall out as they walked. This would lighten the load and not be so hard for them to carry.
When they reached the next school the rebel leaders began to ask Jennifer and her friend why there was only a little amount of beans in their bags. Jennifer and her friend told the rebels they didn't know why their bags had gotten small along the journey. The rebels became angry with them. One of the rebels grabbed his machete and hit Jennifer's friend on the head with it. Jennifer remembers seeing so much blood pouring from the wound on her friend's head. Her friend collapsed and was unconscious from the machete wound on her head. In anger Jennifer rose up, picked up the machete and struck the rebel on the wrist. The force was so strong that she cut off the rebel's hand. After seeing what she had done she threw the machete out of reach of all of them. The rebel in pain began attacking her. Another rebel came and broke the fight up. He blamed the rebel that had attacked her and wounded her friend. He said that Jennifer and her friend were too young to be abducted. He said they should be released immediately. They were released immediately, but her friend was left wounded and laying unconscious on the floor of the school.
Jennifer ran home and told everyone about her friend and that she needed help. Thankfully, those who heard her story responded. A group went and found her friend and took her to the hospital for treatment.
Jennifer was only 11 years old when this happened. She is now 28 years old. The images and experiences of that day still haunt her mind. She told our trauma counsellor that the thought or image of any blood affects her deeply. She told us that even preparing meat for eating and seeing the blood from the meat triggers her memories of the war and this moment of abduction with her friend.
"I used to hold a lot of bitterness over what happened to me and my friend. I used to think about it so much. But when I Live Again Uganda came and helped me know about the effects of holding my bitterness and how to let go - I chose to let the pain go. I let go of the pain now. I feel free. Both myself and my husband have been impacted by this program. I wish I Live Again Uganda would comeback and do some of this teaching with our children."