Uganda Conflict Action Network
I received this email a few days ago and got permission from the sender to post it.
This is Paul Ronan here (as you've probably figured out by this point). As I'm sure most of you know, I studied abroad in Uganda last semester. What you may not know is that since I got home I've been working with the Uganda Conflict Action Network (Uganda-CAN, www.ugandacan.org) to try to help to do something about the insane nightmare that northern Ugandans are suffering through. I'm trying to get people at SU and the greater Syracuse community involved in our work, and although I know this kinda stuff may not be everybody's cup of tea, I'm at least gonna make you read this email. If you are really lazy, skip to the end and read the "Checklist to Stay Paul's Friend".
Last semester several other students and I studied for several weeks in northern Uganda, which was been wracked by a civil war since 1986...... 1.5 million people displaced, 25,000 child abductions (becoming child soldiers), and death rates from disease and starvation that have for years consistently surpassed UN standards constituting extreme emergencies. The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (up to 80% of its ranks child soldiers) has fought the Ugandan military for almost two decades, and both bodies are responsible for gross human rights violations.
To put it mildly, seeing people crowded like cattle into putrid camps dying before your eyes sucked, and (to put it mildly once again) it seemed, well.... wrong. We were horrified not only by the conflict itself, but also by the (suprise!) irresponsible US military aid to the Ugandan government and lack of international attention to the conflict. Upon returning home, we used connections at an established Africa-focused advocacy NGO, the Africa Faith and Justice Network, to establish Uganda-CAN. Our goal is two-fold: make Americans aware of the situation in northern Uganda and work with existing international and Ugandan organizations working towards peace in northern Uganda, especially trying to compel the US government to play a more positive role in peace efforts.
The big event that Uganda-CAN and others are working on now is a worldwide Gulu Walk. Every night in northern Uganda up to 40,000 children walk 6-8 miles from unsafe rural areas to city centers (such as Gulu) to avoid being kidnapped by the LRA rebels. They sleep on the streets, in churches, on hospital verandas...anywhere they can. In the morning, they walk the 6-8 miles home. Every single day.
The Gulu Walk is a way for us lucky ducks in the West to take a little time out of a Saturday morning and show our government and the world that, contrary to popular belief, we actually do care a bit about those living through hell on earth. It's designed to be apolitical in the sense that we're getting people from all ends of all spectrums involved...human rights hippies, church groups, Iggy Pop, etc. The Gulu Walks are gonna take place Oct. 22nd in (at least) London, Philly, Toronto, DC, Kampala, Gulu, Boston, and Vancouver.....pretty much all the cool cities in world. So....let's do one in Syracuse, eh?
Alright, to the point. I need help. I can shout from the rooftops all I want, but half of you think I'm crazy anyways, so it would help to have normal people involved. I need people to help organize a Gulu Walk in Syracuse. I need people to walk in the walk. For those of you not so inclined to such 'radical'activities, I need people to design flyers, people to design t-shirts, people to create any idea/thing they want that has to do with northern Uganda. For those of you who not so inclined to be active, you can at least do this.
Checklist to Stay Paul's Friend
- Go to http://www.ugandacan.org/petition.php and sign a petition. C'mon!
- Save up your starbucks money for a week and make a donation to Uganda-CAN (http://www.ugandacan.org/donate.php or give me a check)
- Pass this email or my contact info to anybody you know that might be interested in doing something to contribute Gulu Walk or anything else to do with northern Uganda.
Be cool lucky ducks...... help save the world,