Christmas can be stressful time of year with presents to wrap, many places to travel to and dinners to organise, but filling our homes with the company of our friends and family makes it all worthwhile. Sadly this is not the case for everyone, as millions of people are displaced from their homes worldwide.
Watching the clock on the last day of work, and with children happily making their way home from school, the Christmas break usually brings images of family and friends coming together to enjoy the festive celebrations. To have a break from our busy lives and drive back home to our families is a great feeling…but what if you arrive to find that your home is no longer there? Your home, full of memories and all your possessions, is now a pile of rubble or ash, and your family; disappeared without a trace.
While most of us will enjoy a peaceful Christmas at home with our loved ones, we must not forget those conflicts and disasters that have displaced millions of people worldwide. In Uganda alone, over 1.5 million people were displaced from their communities by the LRA living in Uganda – meaning that so many people do not have a home or family to go back to.
The Lord’s Resistance Army completely destroyed these people’s lives, causing not only physical but psychological damage. Tens of thousands of people were killed and those who survived had no choice but to leave their ancestral land, making the trauma that they suffered even worse.
Christmas for displaced people in Uganda is the same as every other day: just another day of missing family members and friends, and struggling through their pain and anguish. Although now people have gradually returned to their homelands, the buildings and communities that they knew so well are no longer there.
With more than 42 million people forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide, it is especially important to put our festive troubles into perspective. Christmas has different meanings for everyone, but this season, while worrying about preparations for our Christmas dinners, last minute present shopping or negotiating terrible traffic jams, we should remember that millions of people do not have the luxury of these worries, for their worries are significantly worse.
This Christmas, we ask that you spare a thought for our partners who run a centre that supports former child soldiers and displaced children so that many young lives can be changed through counselling, education and vocational training.