Rather than Western-style first and last names, people in Northern Uganda have an Acholi name and a Christian name. Joyce’s Acholi name is Aparo, and her Christian name is Joyce. She goes by both—they’re used interchangeably.
“I’m thankful that God created me whole.” – Aparo Joyce, Uganda
Aparo Joyce smiles—she’s always ready to light up Amani Uganda with a laugh. And her son Dan takes after her cheerful personality with his entertaining almost-two-year-old antics.
But smiles haven’t always been so ready on Joyce’s face. When she was a young girl, only eleven years old, those smiles were stolen by a traumatic LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) abduction. A scar from a bullet wound remains to remind her of her first battle. Too young to know to run away, Joyce was shot in the arm and captured as soon as the fighting started. Joyce faced tragedy and hardship for the next eight years. She was forced to sleep with soldiers, required to carry heavy loads of food on her head while marching to Sudan, and forced to fight battles for the rebels.
Finally, after having a girl-child who was rejected by her father, Joyce escaped. Joyce returned home to start the painful process of putting the pieces of her life back together. She was taken to tailoring school by an NGO where she learned to stitch. After completing her training she began searching for a job. She had been discouraged after searching for a long time in her small hometown when her friend Mary told her about Amani and brought her to meet Simprosa.
After being at Amani for several months, Joyce’s eyes began to express the hope she found there—hope that she could now be a good mother to her three children (ages 8, 4 and almost 2) and hope that she could now be able to provide food and education for them. Since coming to Amani, her hope has grown and even flourished in the community of Amani Uganda. She says, “Before, I had a lot of time to sit alone and think. But now I have joy, because of the time I share with my friends in Amani!”