The long walk to reconciliation
On January 22nd, 1963 Elysée Treaty was signed in order to seal friendship between France and Germany. Early after the war, the two countries realized that it was important to bridge the deep divisions that had been opposing them for a century.
In light of this experience seen as the most successful example of reconciliation between States, the Embassies of France and Germany in Uganda organized a ceremony on Sunday 22 January at the French Residence to commemorate this signing and to bear witness to the Ugandans about the success of such a political project.
The French Ambassador to Uganda, Stéphanie Rivoal, and the German Ambassador to Uganda, Peter Blomeyer, invited some NGOs working for reconciliation in northern Uganda, a region hard hit by a 20-year war between the government and the LRA.
France and Germany jointly awarded Victor Ochen with the Peace and Reconciliation Prize. Founder and president of the African Youth Initiative Network, Victor and his team help thousands of victims of the civil war receive medical treatment and overcome post-traumatic syndrome caused by conflicts. His work had also been recognized and rewarded by the United Nations, and he was the first Ugandan to be nominee for Nobel Peace Prize (2015).
France and Germany have also tried to actively contribute to raise international community’s awareness about the situation in Northern Uganda by helping Jonathan Littell produce « Wrong Elements », a documentary that looks back at child-soldiers’ lives during the war against the LRA thanks to breathtaking testimonies. One of those children, Geofrey Otema, member of the NGO called “Drop in the bucket”, was one of the special guests at this celebration. Asked what this documentary means to him, he said: “This film represents what I truly was, steps I’ve gone through as a child-soldier”. Thanks to his NGO, with Stacey Travis and Simon Lamex, he is trying to increase access to formal education for the children who were born in captivity to mothers who were abducted by the LRA, in northern Uganda, via a school sponsorship program.
This international NGO has been operating in East Africa since 2006, working directly with underserved and marginalized schools and communities in remote areas of the region. Their mission is to assist community development by implementing projects aimed at encouraging school enrollment, thus enabling children to receive an education and realize their full potential. “Drop in the bucket” also strives to provide support to school infrastructure by constructing water and sanitation facilities at schools. Much has been done so far, and a new project called “boarding school” is to be implemented, but the NGO is still at a fund-raising step.