This conflict left the region terrorised and prostrate. The war was one characterised by indiscriminate killings and violent deaths, maiming of civilians, abduction of women and children for use as sex slaves (rape and defilement) and fighters, arson, mass displacement of people and cases of torture.
Gulu, which is in the Acholi region of Northern Uganda, has since been on a journey of recovery. It is slowly starting to thrive; some people have reconnected with their families, businesses are continually emerging, infrastructure rising and people generally getting back into the normal order of life.
All this looks progressive on the outside but dig deeper and you will discover an imbalanced recovery and lots of concealed scars. Some people are only seemingly coping; others are not coping at all, still in pain and haunted by the war.
Former abductees are still facing stigmatisation, countless people still coming to grips with the loss of their loved ones, children orphaned and haunted by the atrocious things they were forced to do while they were abducted, youth struggling with unemployment heightened by a lack of education, the maimed still dealing with being limbless, lipless and earless, fathers and young men barely understand leadership, mothers too broken to nurture and young ones uncertain with a lack of identity.
The scars of the people in Gulu run deep; and to cope some have either turned to alcohol and drugs, or become resigned to life, are bitter and angry, and many hopeless – searching for answers, looking for direction. Various individuals still grapple with seeing themselves as people of great potential and purpose.