We’ve posted several stories from Sister Giovanna Calabria, a Comboni nun who has worked for decades with LRA-affected populations in South Sudan, and northern Uganda. She wrote to us again recently to share the story of a young boy she met in Nzara, South Sudan, where she works, and we wanted to share the story with you, too. Twelve-year-old Richard* told her:
On March 13, 2010 the LRA attacked my village Baite, near Dungu in Congo. They abducted all of us—my mother, my father, my 15-year-old elder brother, and my two sisters, thirteen and eight years old. My parents refused to follow them into the bush so they were tied to a tree, and they killed them, along with my brother and my two sisters, in front of me, beating their heads with a log. One LRA told his companions not to kill me as I was going to be trained as a soldier like them.
I stayed with them almost two months. Some abducted people in the meantime were able to escape. To prevent this, they tied me together with two other abducted men. One day we were attacked by the UPDF soldiers, and fighting started so we all scattered. It was not easy for us to run as we were tied together, but we managed to hide, lying down in the grass. Shooting stopped completely but we still remained in the same position for fear of meeting the rebels. We managed to cut the rope and free ourselves from each other. We walked for hours in the bush until we met a man who was cutting down some trees; he was from Yambio. The other two abductees went on their own way while this man, after listening to my story, invited me to go to his home. I felt better because I did not know where to go, as my family had been killed. I also heard that my village had been attacked by the LRA three times and no one is there. I wonder if even my relatives have been killed.
“Richard was brought to me today by one of our Catechists as he needed assistance, decent clothing, a blanket, and a piece of soap. He asked me for a pair of shoes; I gave the money to the Catechist to buy it for him in the market as the boy is still a bit lost and confused. We talked together, we shared and I invited him to come again. He agreed with a smile whispering ‘thank you.’”
“I always feel moved when I see and hear people and children going through these traumatic experiences that will mark their lives forever. I ask the Lord to touch the hearts of these LRA and of the Government leaders to stop the activities of these rebels who are causing a lot of suffering.”
—Sr. Giovanna Calabria,
Nzara, South Sudan
September 11, 2010
*Name has been changed