Last summer I visited Odek, Uganda.  It’s past Gulu in Pader county.  After studying many maps, I still have not found it listed.  

The heat blankets us.  The sun shines with hope!

Odek is famous for being the birthplace of Joseph Kony, leader and rebel of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  His war made famous by the Kony 2012 campaign.

The rolling savannah, the red clay, and the big sky make me smile as we approach.

Lunch is served in the village.  Okello’s grandmother sits under the tree.  We are graced in the presence of the elders.  

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin

As we settle with food, the children arrive from the huts.  The injustice is served.  

We sit together in a circle and consider.  

How does the world stay on its axis when so much is so lopsided?  I think of home from the dust.  I think of my baby girl who’s three and the abundance we enjoy.  Malnutrition sits before me, side-by-side with the nutrition on my plate.

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin and Jessica Balfour

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin and Jessica Balfour

Born in East Africa.  Born in Canada.  Is it just luck or do I have responsibility?

I sit with that.

My life breathes in commitment.  My life takes on responsibility.

Today the responsibility is not over.  I will continue to lean forward and Learn Forward!  I will continue to raise my voice in advocacy for our children and the children of the world!

Today, Okello and his wife, Marian sit in my living room.  I ask them about the girls, the two experiences of life, the two three-year-olds.  We mention Northern Uganda as we sit in Canada with the snowfall.

Without hesitation they agree, “The difference is literacy.”  Without hesitation,  they agree.

Poverty cannot exist without the food of ignorance.  

Is there enough for everyone?  Does a rising tide raise all ships?  Are all people equally valuable?

Can all children experience abundance? 

I remember my commitment to send books.  The little girl in Odek; I will send her books.  Her little life will be different with a literacy centre in Odek.  Will you help us?

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin

Pictures by Rachel Pagdin

You can help us build literacy centres in partnership with Okello today!

1.   Okello is performing at Sandhill Winery on January 31.  Tickets are on sale now.

2.  Donate now to make 2015 the year Niteo Africa sends the books to Odek!  

3.  Travel this year!  Contact me at karine.veldhoen@gmail.com to get more information.

Will you breathe in the responsibility of social justice?

For the sake of the children,

Karine