This week I got to partake in another amazing and humbling experience. A number of women are returning from captivity with the Lord’s Resistance Army and as a result, some of the children that returned previously as Unaccompanied Minors are now able to be reunited with their birth mothers. This is what happened this week…
On Monday, I was hanging out at GUSCO when a woman and her aunt came to speak with James. The woman had returned from captivity just before Christmas but had been taken immediately home by the Amnesty Commission and had not passed through a Reception Center. She had come to GUSCO to inquire about her son that had returned in 2010 as an Unaccompanied Minor. Normally, if a woman passes through a Reception Center then her children that returned previously are brought to the Center to be reunited with her. In this case this did not happen. As it turned out, her son had passed through GUSCO and had been reunited with the paternal family.
The problem arose that the Mother did not have the money needed to go and get her son and her problem did not fall under the mandates of the organizations operating in Gulu. Since, EKU is dedicated to reuniting Unaccompanied Minors with their families, we decided to use a little of the money left over from a past operation ($20CAD) to go and find the child and reunite the family. Monday night, I took a motorbike an hour out of town to meet with the boy and the paternal family. We gave the family transport money and arranged for the boy to be brought to GUSCO on Tuesday morning for the reunion and family mediation.
To say the mother was excited is an understatement. When the boy walked in on Tuesday morning she began smiling and crying simultaneously. She hadn’t seen her son in two years and wasn’t even sure he was still alive. The relief and love on her face was palpable. She immediately picked him up and hugged him. The boy after only ten minutes of uncertainty took to his mother like a fish to water and was so comfortable and excited to see her.
After the reunion, we proceeded with family mediation between the mother and the paternal family that had been caring for the boy. The paternal family understood the situation and was happy to hear that the mother had returned. The paternal family had been planning to refer the child to an orphanage and so they were very willing to hand the child over to the mother for further care. The boy and his mother travelled home late last week and we will be following up with them to see if there is any further way for EKU to help them in the future with school or other services.
This is also a promising story because we have heard reports that the mother of another Unaccompanied Minor that is currently living in an orphanage may have returned. This boy is the brother to one of our children Nathan, and we have been following his progress in hopes that we can remove him from the orphanage in the near future. We have contacted the orphanage and are waiting to hear if the reports are true, so that we can reunite the mother with her child!