When ECM met the children of Tegot Atoo in 2006, Tegot was an IDP camp (internally displaced people--sort of like being a refugee in your own land). The camps were established by the Ugandan government during Joseph Kony & the LRA's 20 year reign of terror in Northern Uganda. They were meant to protect the people, but they brought their own problems. When ECM came in, Joseph Kony had just left the area and things were still fragile and unstable. However, he did not return, so finally rebuilding began. ECM "adopted" the Tegot camp, and later the resettlement area around it. This did not mean we could meet all the needs of the area. It simply meant that we decided to concentrate our efforts there. That has proven to be a big enough task.
ECM has sponsored more than 70 children from the area to enable them to get schooling or vocational training. The war has torn apart virtually every family, but ECM is working to strengthen what remains. Our sponsoring partners make it possible for staff to regularly visit and counsel families, help rebuild huts and latrines for elderly grandmothers who have taken in war orphans, help families get established in agriculture, and much more. We have worked closely with the local primary school, where we have developed a library and made other improvements.
Most of the children are slowly recovering from post traumatic stress syndrome and are gradually beginning to find glimpses of joy and find hope for the future. A program of nonformal education has helped children prepare for school. One of our greatest joys has been seeing children who are just beginning to read, teaching the alphabet and its sounds to their parents at home, who were unable to attend school because of the war.
Tegot Atoo means "mountain of death," but now it is becoming a place of life as the Gospel penetrates the hearts of families. Many were forced to commit horrific, unspeakable acts during the war, in order to survive. Although they were forced to do it, they still are haunted by guilt. What sweet release to know that no matter what they have done, they can find forgiveness and healing in Jesus!