Many of you remember the ‘Stiletto Stampede’ when the cries of our sisters in Uganda broke our hearts at Colour Conference. This was the start of the Living Hope program, run by Watoto, which has been working in Uganda to help restore dignity to women. Women are some of the most marginalised and wounded people in Africa. Most of the Living Hope women have been left abandoned or widowed, HIV+, returnees from abduction by the rebel army in northern Uganda, and teenage mothers.
In 2008 as a Colour Sisterhood, we partnered with Watoto to perform Facial Reconstructive Surgeries on women who have had their noses, ears, and lips cut off by the LRA. We raised funds and sacrificed to give these women their smiles back so that they could “smile at the future” (Proverbs 31) Since the project’s initiation, 35 individual women have received reconstructive surgery, many of them had multiple surgeries to finish their reconstruction. September 2015 will wrap up this initiative with the last two ladies finishing their surgeries.
Lillian Anena’s Story
Anena grew up in Atyak in Nwoya District, northern Uganda. On the 5 March, 2003, a rebel in the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army rebels) attacked her and cut off her left ear. She was found by a kind stranger who took her to a doctor for treatment but she was left deformed.
In 2011, the Watoto reconstructive team was sent to Anena’s village after having been directed there by the doctor who first treated her. Two years later, she was taken to CORSU (Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services for Uganda) where her operation was held. “I was scared before the surgery but when they worked on me, it just looks so beautiful. I am very grateful to all the people that made it possible for my ear to be recreated…I can’t thank Watoto enough.”
Throughout the project, we saw the re-establishing of worth in the lives of many women. For some, the residual trauma of reconstructive surgery was a massive hurdle to overcome and in some cases physical and emotional factors kept some women from receiving reconstructive surgery. However, Living Hope is dedicated to providing the best and most comprehensive help for these women in order to restore them to their proper dignity whether that be through surgery or through other services to meet their individual needs.
This aspect of Living Hope is now being completed but the work continue to provide a holistic approach to helping the vulnerable women of Uganda. These women receive the tools necessary to face every-day living with dignity and pride through
- Improving quality of life, assisting them with basic necessities such as food, clothing, shelter and medical care
- Providing comprehensive HIV/AIDS care including counseling and psychosocial support
- Empowering and equip with vocational skills that will enable them to become productive members of their community
- Setting up self-sustainable, income-generating projects
- Providing spiritual and moral discipleship
Your partnership and continued support of Living Hope will drastically change a community by empowering its girls and giving them hope for a life lived in dignity. You can find out how you can get involved with Living Hope through our 500 project (add link)
Thank you to all of the people that donated to this facial reconstruction surgery through ‘Be Her Dignity’, your support has allowed women to face their future with a smile and they are be forever grateful for a company of women who stood alongside them.