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Uganda today: The legacy of Joseph Kony and the LRA

The first time I traveled to the north of Uganda as the International Rescue Committee’s country director, I attended a meeting of a village saving and loans association. These are small groups whose members—primarily women—meet each week and encourage each other to save money and make very small, short-term loans to try out business ideas. The IRC has started these associations across northern Uganda as a low-cost way to provide financial services to the poor in rural communities—areas where formal banks are reluctant to invest.

Since I was new, the group had many questions for me. “Where did I come from?” America. “How many children did I have?” Three. An appreciative nod went through the crowd as big families are still valued in this part of the world and I was well on my way to having one. “Did I love Uganda?” Yes, very much. “When would I be back?” Soon, but I couldn’t say exactly when. When it came my turn to pose a question, I asked people to raise their hand if they had been displaced during the war. Almost everyone in the group raised their hands, as did most of our staff members.

This offhanded request yielded a response that really moved me and put our work in that region into context. It brought home the extent to which the crisis had gripped northern Uganda from the late 1980s until 2006. 

Read the full blog on The IRC website.