Around the world

Around the world; a Nation Hopper's journy to teach on all 7 continents.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Machine Gun Preacher

On Thursday Cliff and I were talking about our meeting with the women last Monday and I commented on how hard it was to hear their stories and how hard it was for me to imagine growing up the way they did. Cliff told me he also experienced some of the things the women went through when he was young. His village is in west Uganda and wasn't hit as hard by the rebels as people in the north, but he said he'd be woken up in the middle of the night by gun fire, he and his brother would would skirt dead bodies on their way to school. His father kept guns under the bed and told Cliff and his brother if there was ever an attack they were to grab a gun and start shooting, to defend their family and home.

It's very difficult to wrap your brain around an 8 year old being told to 'grab a gun and defend your family and home', it goes against everything about my upbringing. Cliff could see that I was struggling to really see what had happened to these women and told me when I got home to watch a move called Machine Gun Preacher. I wasn't able to watch it till Saturday night, but wow.

If you want to know a little more about what these women went through growing up I suggest you watch it. Even if you don't, I still suggest you watch this movie. It was a very moving film, its hard to watch so bring some tissues. While I was watching it, I made some notes about what I saw in the film and what I heard talking to the women and I would like to share.

Machine Gun Preacher is about a man named Sam Childers who finds God and goes to northern Uganda and southern Sudan to help the children. Joseph Kony puts a price on his head, his orphanage is burned to the ground, and he is continuously attacked but he sticks it out knowing what hes doing is all these kids have.

In the opening scene of this movie, where people are being thrown from their beds in the middle of the night, machine guns going off left and right, men yelling, pushing and shoving, do you see those kids? Those are the women that I’ve been working with on Mondays, their kids come to the Saturday program. I know the movie said this was happening in southern Sudan, but it was also happening in northern Uganda, to the members of the Acholi tribe, to the people I’ve come to know and love. 

The bits and pieces Marry, Eunice, Lilian and the others told me about their lives on the first Monday we met was about experiencing the things in this first scene. The women were forced to watch as their parents were first beaten savagely and then beheaded, some were even ordered to execute their own mother and father. No one was spared, women, children, men, they were either killed or abducted. Their homes were burned to the ground, their animals tortured and killed. 

Cliff told me about how the rebels, under Kony’s orders would cut off people’s lips, ears, fingers. I shuddered at the thought, how could anyone order people to cut the lips off another human being? The scene in this movie with the woman missing her lips caused me to burst into tears of rage. The injustice of it all burns a fire through me. That fire went out suddenly and it was replaced by a sour taste in my mouth, my stomach churned uncomfortably as I thought of my childhood. While these women were being treated less like a person and more like a dog, I was sitting pretty and safe, with a nice roof over my head, all the food I could possibly eat, more toys then I ever really needed and a tremendous amount of love from my parents. Now, I didn't have a choice as to where I was born, or the kind of environment I was brought up in. But that couldn't keep the gnawing guilt away. I put my hand over the back of my left shoulder, where the words 'theres always something to be thankful for' are written on my skin in Telugu, and counted all the blessings in my life. 

After seeing this movie, I am even more determined to do everything in my power to help these women and their children, to do what ever it takes to bring them a bit of happiness and let them know that they matter. 

If there is one thing you take away from all of these posts, let it be to remember to be thankful. Be thankful for the healthy blood pumping through your heart, for the food on your table, for the love of the people around you. Not everyone is given these luxuries. Don't just cherish these luxuries, share them with people who don't have them. You don't have to travel to Uganda, Africa or Hyderabad, India or Nang Rong Thailand, there are people in your state who need help. They live in the same city that you do, they might even live down the street. We all have something to give, but I think many of us don't make the time to do so. Make time. You only get one life, you're only on this earth for a short time. Make that time and life count. 

Pay it forward. 

Donate to Goodwill

Give to your local food bank

Volunteer at a near by shelter

Give that person on the street corner a granola bar, a smile and a kind word. 

Adopt a pet from a shelter. 

Adopt a child who doesn't have someone to love and take care of them. 

There is always something to be thankful for. 

Share the love. 

Help make this world a better place. 

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