Lira, the fourth-largest town in Uganda (with a population of just over 100,000) is located in northern Uganda, 215 miles north of the capital city, Kampala. Although our ministry site is located in the nearby village of Anai-Okii, Lira is the main city in the region where we serve.
Once upon a time, Lira could have been described as the quintessential sleepy little African town where one could enjoy the drive along tree-lined roads coming in to town from the Ugandan savanna. Today, the town once nicknamed “the jewel of the north” is struggling to recover from one of Africa’s longest-running civil wars.
The near 20-year conflict was led by rebel guerilla and self-proclaimed “spokesperson of God, “Joseph Kony, whose Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) raided villages, burned homes, slaughtered civilians, and recruited child soldiers through abductions from the villages and schools of northern Uganda. Thousands of children were robbed of their childhood and, in many cases, of life itself. Boys and girls were turned into killers who became seared by the atrocities they saw and were forced to commit. Children as young as ten years old were taught to kill, often beginning with their own families.