Uganda: How a Catholic radio station is saving child soldiers

Aid to the Church in Need
Eva-Maria Kolmann
November 22, 2010

“We love you, Robert. Please come home! From your parents and your brothers and sisters”. These, and other messages like them are regularly heard on the children’s programme of the Catholic diocesan radio station “Radio Wa’ of Lira in northern Uganda. They are addressed to children who have been abducted by the rebels of the so-called Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to become child soldiers. Many of the surviving children no longer dare to return home, after having been deliberately forced by the rebels to kill or mutilate neighbours and even close family members in their own home villages, or to burn down their houses. By doing this, the rebels hope to make it impossible for them to return home. Other children simply do not dare to try and escape their tormentors. Through the radio broadcasts the Church is hoping to give them the courage to try and get back to their families. And so the children’s programme “Karibu”, (or Welcome!), also features former child soldiers who have managed to escape, telling their story and about their new life, in the hope of encouraging other children. These broadcasts are listened to, even in the bush, and as a result, over the course of time, over 1,500 child soldiers have managed to flee their captivity because Radio Wa gave them the courage to believe in a new life. The rebels were so enraged, in fact, that in September 2002 they attacked the radio station and set fire to it. But the radio mast was undamaged and so Radio Wa – “Our Radio”, as the name means – continues to this day to broadcast its programmes, in an effort to bring peace and reconciliation to Uganda. read more..

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