Thursday, January 20, 2011

Child Soldier No More

Tonight I went to the Watoto performance in the Town Hall.

I've seen Watoto several times before, but this was completely different. Usually they perform as a choir, with some testimony thrown in, it's all super happy and leaves you feeling encouraged and enthused about their work in Uganda.

Their Restore tour incorporates dramatic performances and video with a focus on Child Soldiers and the LRA war of Northern Uganda. The teenagers were acting out scenes of  their past. I was crying from the first scene when child soldiers walk in with guns, not because the acting was particularly moving, but because these kids had actually been there. They had been abducted and raped and shot and beaten. They had killed people, including their own friends and family members. It made it so real to think, this is not something that happened to some random nameless people on the other side of the world, but to these kids that were standing before us.

To some degree I felt sickened that these kids had to re-visit the pain of their past in these dramas (but I'm sure it was done with much consultation and thought to the emotions of the people involved... well I hope there was!).

I also hated that they had to perform such a graphic performance to get our attention. Don't get me wrong, I think it was an amazingly powerful performance & I'm so glad I saw it. But why should children have to act out these scenes and tell us of these atrocities?
How do these things happen in our modern society without us even really being aware? We've become so desensitised to the suffering of third world communities, comfortable in our own worlds, distracted by the constant desire for entertainment, overwhelmed by the hugeness of the problem. Wow. Feeling so challenged. What can I do?

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