It's a sad day for Ohioans. I made a bet with one of the participants on the score of the Buckeyes game - and heard on CNN World this morning (yes Buckeye fans, be proud - it made WORLD news) that the Buckeyes got their butts kicked by Florida. We both lost the bet and have decided to drink ourselves to oblivion at the local pub. Just kidding of course, but my heart goes out to the Buckeyes fans out there...such sad sad news.
We arrived yesterday here in Gulu, which is a small town in northern Uganda. Dad will be happy to hear that since last September, Gulu is no longer in the midst of a conflict zone, since the LRA has signed a cease fire that is still in effect. Our running group has resumed our morning runs, and the air out here in the rural areas is much friendlier than the heavily polluted air in Kampala. Gulu has been transformed from what it once was, as it now houses hundreds of NGOs and humanitarian relief organizations that administer services to the millions of Acholi who are living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Yesterday evening was dinner with the northern Ugandan participants (the American students are introduced to a whole new set of 11 Ugandan students who have been attending Gulu University). They are an extremely intelligent bunch (evidenced by the debate on the bus about theories of economics). The Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies program at the university greeted us last night, welcoming us to northern Uganda.
Today was a difficult day for the students, as we visited Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO) in the morning, and Paicho IDP camp in the afternoon. GUSCO was featured in Invisible Children and is a center for rehabilitating child soldiers that have come out of the bush -- to better integrate them into society and provide psychosocial therapy. Paicho IDP camp is about 15 km outside of Gulu and home to more than 17,000 IDPs. We toured the camp and talked with Ugandan students about what will happen to these camps when peace is achieved. Jan Egeland (United Nations) called the situation in northern Uganda the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world." Surely that was visible during our visit, but the resilience of the Acholi people is remarkable. They are extremely hopeful for peace so that they can return to farming their ancestral homelands.