An Outlook on Africa from a Personal View

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Written by Maria Putnam |

Kony 2012 has been a major conflict this year. A lot of people feel for the people in Africa, yet others think we should just let it be. After the assembly most students gained an opinion on the issue. The first video gave everybody information about the war in Uganda and Kony himself. The second video dragged and made it feel more like propaganda than support. It was like listening to a broken record to be honest; I wanted to take a nap at that point. The brief information given about the war spiked students’ interest to get involved, but I’m here to give even more information about what is truly going on in Africa. Yes, Africa as a whole, not just Uganda. I can support the information given because my Aunt recently returned from Africa. She backpacked for a year, getting involved with helping the orphans that have been and still are being affected by this war. She loved sharing stories about her adventure through Africa, proud of all the hard work she accomplished to help these children.

My aunt, Amy Dockus, lives in San Francisco, California so doing an interview was hard with her busy schedule, the distance, and time difference.  I have emailed her back and forth about her journey, and she sent me amazing pictures.

Before leaving for her trip, she explained why she was going to Africa in the first place. My aunt has always been the adventurous, outgoing kind of person so this trip was no surprise. She felt as if she needed to help others and do something meaningful with her life, so helping these children is what interested her the most. Don’t think that she just up and left either. She had to sell almost everything she owned to get enough money to support her travels, and she took many months to do research on what was exactly going on in Africa, helping her decide where she wanted to go.

With all the propaganda of Kony 2012, people think that these war issues are only going on in Uganda, which is far from the truth. Hearing stories from my aunt while she traveled around Africa, I learned about the scars of the people from the war. My aunt said, “You can definitely see the scars of the LRA on the town and the people there…”

A white woman going into a different country where there are a lot of battles and danger occurring was a serious risk. Again with all the pressure of Kony 2012, people would think that the people of Africa would take any help they could get, but that is not the case. In certain areas, even taking pictures was a risk. My aunt was not exactly sure if the help of others was making matters worse  for the rebels or if it was simply fuel for the rebels to cause more havoc for the people and children of Africa. She was there to help the children being directly affected by this war and did not leave no matter what threats came her way, even though there were several. In her eyes, these children are hurting, and any help would make things at least a little bit better.

My aunt did not go for Kony 2012; she went for the war and the people the war was affecting. The children my aunt was out there to help had lost family members due to the rebels. The rebels would simply go around and kill parents in front of the children if the parents were not fit to help their army. After killing the parents, they could take the children to add to their cult. I refer to it as a cult because to call this group an army seems wrong. An army is a group of fighters who fight for a cause; these rebels fight for power, and that is not a good enough reason to put these people through what they do. Imagine having to stay up at night, not being able to sleep because somebody could come into your house, kill you and/or your parents, or kidnap you to train to kill families just like yours.

Schools are another serious issue throughout Africa. Since there are not many schools in Africa, most kids there have no source of an education. One of the actions my aunt contributed to in Gulu, Africa was building and volunteering at a school.

Not only did she help build and volunteer at this school, but she also taught an art class. It was nothing sophisticated, but simple art basics with drawings, paintings, and other cool projects for the children. She actually painted a mural with the kindergarten class she had. It’s the small things like an art class that gives these children in Africa something to look forward to.

Although getting an interview with my aunt was difficult, she did provide me with statements about her journey, and she sent me amazing pictures. So here I am sharing this information with you! For more information on the organizations my aunt associated with (SOS children’s village) look them up on Facebook!

I’d applied for one of their internships (Invisible Children) in Uganda; didn’t get it.

I did go to their office in Gulu though and met some of the workers there – one of which led me to the school that I eventually volunteered with in Gulu (for SOS children’s village in kindergarten class; the mural project)…

I loved Gulu and the school I worked at there – spent about 4 weeks.

But it was one of my favorite experiences volunteering and being in Africa

I also volunteered a couple of days in Gulu with another org called ‘freedom in creation’ - they work with former child soldiers doing art projects, building wells for their communities, etc…Another great organization.”