Former Child Soldier Turns His Life Around

Abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) aged just 11, David saw many horrors at a young age…

While walking home with friends, David was abducted by the LRA and forced to endure two years living in the bush with the rebel group - an experience which haunted him with guilt and self-loathing. Coming from a poverty-stricken background in the north of Uganda, his chance to turn his life around was made possible by the loving environment at Kira Farm Development Centre and the skills he gained whilst there.

David grew up in a remote area in the north east of Uganda, living with his elderly and blind father, mother and younger brother. Only one of their 50 acres of land was suitable for farming; they farmed sorghum, maize and beans for eating and cotton for selling. In a good year they made just £60 from cotton and survived on one meal a day.

Trauma and self-loathing

David had a traumatic later childhood. Abducted by the LRA aged just 11, while walking home with friends from visiting an immunisation programme in a neighbouring district, he was forced to spend two years living in the bush with the rebel group. “I saw horrible things and we were made to do horrible things, that haunted me all the time.” David started to hate himself, feeling extreme guilt for the lives he was forced to take while with the rebels. He managed to escape during a shoot out and was taken to a rehabilitation camp for two months before being united with his family.

Forgiveness and love

David said he had the best time of his life on Kira. The long bus journey and the civilisation he encountered on his arrival – cars, lights and sleeping on a proper bed – changed him “inside out”. The loving environment, the discipleship training and Kira’s restorative approach, enabled him to forgive himself and also to learn to love other people.

Faith in his ability

Returning back home after a year away, David found life difficult to start with. His blind father had not been able to do much farming in his absence and the family had sold the few animals they had in order to survive. David, however, was unshaken. He knew that, with the training he had received, the suffering was going to be short-lived and he was proved right.

Farming and carpentry

David set about opening up a further three acres for farming. Now his family can afford two meals a day instead of one, having doubled the amount they earned previously. The extra income has allowed him to open up a business selling food produce to South Sudan and David can now see light at the end of the tunnel. With another former Kira Farm graduate, Patrick, he has opened up the first carpentry workshop in the village. So far they have produced and sold five tables, seven stools and two beds, earning them approximately £60 in total.

Community-minded and responsible

David’s new attitude to work and the community, has enabled him to do some renovation work on the only primary school in the village. He has since won a contract to build some modern staff huts and, with the employment of three youths to help, he has made a profit of £92. Having taken over the responsibility of running the home, he has enabled his family to have animals again - buying a cow and two goats. Next year he will send his younger brother to a boarding secondary school, giving him the chance of a good, formal education that he himself sadly missed out on. The future is looking bright!

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