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Walk Highlights Ugandan Children’s Nightly Fears

Every single night, children of northern Uganda walk miles to sleep in safe houses in the town of Gulu and elsewhere. They live in fear of being abducted during the night in their villages by rebel groups who will force them to become slaves, prostitutes, or soldiers.

The plight of those children deeply concerns Steve Mann of Grand Rapids, Mich. “I have kids ages 6 to 15, and I don’t want them to grow up in a world in which anyone is abducted,” he said.

So Mann took his children on a walk too. On Oct. 22, Mann and his children and about 60 other people joined the Gulu Walk, sponsored by the Christian Reformed Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action. Several people who had lived in Uganda spoke before the walk.

Worldwide, more than 15,000 people walked in 38 cities to raise awareness of the plight of the children of northern Uganda.

“When you put some blisters on your feet and some soreness in your muscles, that’s when what’s happening in the world becomes incarnate,” said Lou Haveman, a former relief worker for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee in West and southern Africa who recently hiked the Appalachian Trail to raise money for CRWRC.

“It’s hard for us to even imagine what goes on in northern Uganda, it’s such deplorable evil,” said Laura Musoke, also a former CRWRC worker. “We need to tell [the Ugandan children’s] stories because their voice is getting drowned out on the world stage.” 

Taking a Walk on the Child’s Side

Adrian Bradbury and Kieran Hayward, who have both spent time in Africa, conducted their own “night commute” this summer in Toronto, giving birth to a worldwide movement called the Gulu Walk.

Every night in July they walked 12.5 km (7.5 miles) into downtown Toronto to sleep in front of city hall. After about four hours of sleep, they made the trek home again, all the while continuing to work full-time and attempting to maintain their usual daily routine. Over the 31 days they walked 775 km (480 miles) in 154 hours and 18 minutes, a total of 872,739 steps.

The intention of the Gulu Walk was not to attempt to replicate the terror, fear, and uncertainty of the real “night commuters,” who walk for their lives every single day. “You simply can’t,” they said. Bradbury and Hayward walked to tell the Ugandans’ story and draw attention to their plight. What started out as an attempt by two average people to better understand the ordeal of these courageous kids has now grown into a worldwide movement for peace.

From www.guluwalk.com (used with permission)

About the Author

Roxanne Van Farowe is a freelance writer.

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