Trip Start Jul 02, 2006
14Trip End Aug 30, 2006
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Our study has changed a bit. The Museveni government is trying to get people to resettle in their villages because they feel that it is now safe for them to return to their homes without the threat of the LRA. As such, many of the IDP camps in the area have been decongested. Instead of looking at the prevalence of drinking and it's impact on HIV/AIDS transmission rates in the IDP camps alone, we are comparing the habits of those in the camps and those recently returned to the living in local village. The worry now is that the IDPs that had been living in the camps will continue their drinking and sexual habits in the village, making the prevalence of HIV/AIDS even higher
The consensus of those that we have talked to in both the camps and the villages, however, is that it is not safe for them to return. In the region we are studying (Teso region), many people fled to the camps not only because of the LRA, but also of the neighboring Karamjong people. These people cattle raid, steal, rape, and all the other bad stuff. But, the government has not yest addressed or acknowledged these issues.
We have talked to many HIV positive people and have heard many of their heart-breaking stories. Many of them are widowed and worry about the future of their children once they die. Some of them were raped and that is how they contracted the disease. At the same time, we've seen some of the effects the LRA had in the region. Insurgency was high in Soroti and neghboring areas in 2003-2005. In one village we went to, they abducted over 2,000 children. We have met many formerly abducted children who have been undergoing counseling, and have talked to many people who have lost their families. One woman we interviewed started crying when she told us of how her brother's eyes were cut out, and how he was burned alive in front of her. Not only that but her two children were also taken from her and they have not yet returned.
We work every day from 9AM to about 6PM. By the time we get back, we have a 50/50 chance of having power. If we do have power, we try to make dinner (usually consisting of fruit, chipati/bread, tomatoes, and avocados) and try to shower with the three streams of water that come out of our bathroom faucet. It's either that or eat at a neighborhood restaurant that serves goat stew and matoke (mushed up plaintains) or rice and beans. Mmmm.....