Northern Uganda is recovering from a civil war which took 20+ years. Besides the relative peace, the situation left the people in pathetic conditions. This has led to the rapid spread of poverty, illiteracy and mortality among the rural populace. The major cause of such desperate circumstances is the civil war led by the Lord Resistant Army (LRA). These rebels abducted young children, ages 7 - 15 and made them their soldiers and concubines. Most children, in fear of capture, fled their homes and took to the streets where drugs, alcohol and prostitution are rampant, resulting in many unwanted pregnancies and very early, irresponsible marriages.
Seventy-four percent of the people who live in our diocese live below the poverty line. A good number of school-aged children do not get a chance to continue school and are forced to leave during their primary education due to lack of educational funds. Some of these children spend three to four days without food.
There is a high rate of illiteracy among our people, especially among the women. Historically, women have not attended school and therefore have not believed in passing on the importance of an education. Univeral Primary Education (UPE), established approximately 10 years ago to provide a basic education for the populace has not turly advanced the purpose of its design. Children are crowded into rooms together in groups of 180-200 students per classroom!
The health situation is pathetic: high infant mortality rate, death of young mothers at childbirth, lack of pre and post natal care, few maternal health services, and few awareness programs. Seasonal outbreaks of epidemics such as cholera, plague, and meningitis are additional threaths, due to poor sanitation. Meansles and polio continue to threaten many children in North Uganda. Malaria, which claims hundreds, has become a tolerated enemy due to lack of drugs and facilities.