Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Speaking Out for the Voiceless

Lobby Days for Northern UgandaCan one person make a difference? This question was on the mind of many who arrived in Washington D.C. for the "Lobby Days for Northern Uganda" event. The lobby was packed with a crowd that spanned the decades from pre-teens to those nearing retirement age, the majority being college-age and twenty-somethings. They have all come to make a change in Northern Uganda.

The three-day event began with a screening of the Academy Award-nominated documentary "War/Dance." The moving film follows the story of three children whose lived have been horribly altered because of the atrocities in Northern Uganda. However, through a national dance and music competition, all three children had found renewed hope.

Lisa CogginHope was on Lisa Coggin's mind on Monday morning. She believes that the war in Northern Uganda has robbed the Acholi people of their hope and their sense of purpose. Lisa and her husband, Keith, are missionaries in Uganda who are home on furlough. They heard about Lobby Days for Northern Uganda through a World Vision e-mail. "The more I read about it," she says, "the more I thought that I would just love to go there and see what they're doing."

She continues, "We don't really know what to expect from [the Lobby Days]. We're a bit vague. We're not very political. We live our life in a village so even America has shocked us, coming back. This is out of our element. We're very timid of it. We're willing to be involved and to do what we can and to speak out."

It's plain to see how deeply Northern Uganda and the Acholi people have touched Lisa's heart. "They deserve dignity. They deserve a hope. They deserve a future."

She thinks the people in the village where they live and the people in the displacement camps will be encouraged to know that people are speaking out for them. She says, "I think it will help for them to know that people are trying; that people care enough.

Amplify the voices of northern Ugandans"The Acholi people have lost their voice. No one has heard them for 22 years. They have not spoken. I just thank God for people who step in and have become their voice and have relayed their voice to others and their cry."

Can one person make a difference? Most definitely! That is what the Lobby Days for Northern Uganda is about -- making a difference. But if people band together, they will amplify the cries of Uganda so that their voices carry farther.

Laura Reinhardt, assignment editor for World VisionPosted by Larry Short on behalf of Laura Reinhardt in Washington D.C. Laura is Assignment Editor for World Vision in the United States and is currently on assignment at Lobby Days for Northern Uganda.

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