Resilient

Someday I hope to enjoy enough of what the world calls success so that someone will ask me, ‘What’s the secret of it?’ I shall say simply this: ‘I get up when I fall down.’”

— Paul Harvey, news analyst and author

It is common for women to carry large loads on their heads for long distances.

 

Transport to a village burial

Most of the people have very little money, but they are very supportive when someone has died.  They will often pool their resources to help the family with burial costs (which includes feeding all the mourners) and will rent a large open bed truck to travel to the “burial” These people pictured  traveled 10 hours from the southeastern part of Uganda to an area north near the So. Sudanese border.  They all  travel standing up, often on terribly dangerous roads. On their return home, these mourners were exposed to torrential rainfall and were stuck on the unpaved roads.

Laorice’s Story of Resilience

The Moores were introduced to Laorice shortly after arriving in Gulu.  As they became better acquainted with her, they felt there could not be a more virtuous young woman in the entire region.  Though soft-spoken, her compassion was extraordinary; her commitment to truth was unyielding; and her youthful wisdom was unprecedented.

Laorice’s father had died when she was a young child and her mother had abandoned her so she was raised by a benevolent grandmother in the grandmother’s village home.

When she was a teenager, Laorice went to live with her auntie’s family.  Laorice was abused and often treated with disdain.  She was required to do all the cooking and housework.

When an American couple learned of her trying experiences, they and other leaders sought another place for her to live, but Laorice felt she should stay with her relatives  In time the American couple were able to enroll her in Pope Saint John Paul College, a highly esteemed private Catholic “college” (senior level classes equivalent to our high school) in the Gulu region. Top-ranked schools like this one are all boarding schools.  Laorice’s auntie and family reacted to her new opportunity with great jealousy and bitterness. On one occasion they asked the couple to take a “special drink” to Laorice at her school.  The couple were warned by a leader not to deliver it; the family had laced it with poison.

While her new education opportunity was a monumental blessing which also allowed her to be in a safer environment, it was far from easy. The school’s structure was very rigid. Students were not allowed to leave campus any time, even on weekends, until “holiday” or the end of the school term.

Laorice’s school was so demanding that she, and her fellow students were usually up by  four a.m. and finished their studies as late as 11 PM. If students fell asleep in class,  they were  punished, often severely, and  were threatened with expulsion.

The only time friends or relatives were allowed to visit was during their limited free time on Sunday afternoon.  However, most students like Laorice have no visitors because of the distance and cost to travel there.

During Laorice’s third year of school, she learned that her beloved grandmother, whose  health was failing, had been moved from her village home to live with the same family that had inflicted so much suffering on Laorice.  She decided to not continue her education; she needed to ensure her grandmother was treated with loving care and dignity. In addition, even though she had hoped to become a missionary, Laorice decided that was not as important as taking care of her grandmother. Her grandmother, on the other hand, was concerned about Laorice’s safety and counseled her to not stay there. Among other things, this  family had hired a witch doctor to try to get rid of Laorice.

Witchcraft is referred to as “traditional” medicine.  Although repugnant to Ugandan Christians, many indigent people use witchcraft to explain or cope with their misfortunes. They also believe in the power of witchcraft to enhance their political and economic fortunes.  On occasion the witch doctor will demand a human sacrifice or body part for this power.  The Ugandan government is adamantly opposed to these practices, but in some places it still prevails.

The Moores also suggested another place for her to live, but Laorice refused, stating she needed to be an example of integrity to her extended family. She had also resolved to make sure her grandmother was treated with dignity and Laorice wanted to always be available to assist her. Laurice was extraordinarily cautious and would not eat any food unless she prepared it herself..

The Moores had returned to the states while she was still taking care of her grandmother.  In time, the grandmother passed away, and Laorice found it necessary to find another place to live.

Last year, Laorice was able to fulfill her dream of becoming a full-time missionary in Kenya, Africa.

Despite adversity, Africans continue to persevere

Women, as well as men, often do back-breaking manual labor, hammering rocks in a quarry for a few shillings a day,  digging with a hoe in their fields, transporting water back to their homes, as well as cooking and cleaning, often with a baby strapped on their back.  Carrying large and heavy loads on their heads frees their hands for other activities, but the heavy weight – often 40 pounds – in time causes neck and shoulder pain.

There is no such thing as “retirement” for the indigent and the hard work they must do every day to survive – until the become completely incapacitated. Even those who aren’t able to walk, either crawl or are carried to the outside of their huts where they continue to sort beans and produce or winnow grains.