This article was written by Clarissa Donaldson, an Amani ya Juu intern serving at Amani Uganda.
A peace statue stands tall in the center of the plaza, commemorating the triumphant day that peace was restored in Gulu, Uganda. No longer are bullets raining in a storm of hate, yells of soldiers and the cries of children sprinkled with the cold clatter of machine guns firing deep into the night. No longer do refugees run from the place they once called home, tearful with uncertainty of whether they would ever be able to return. No longer do children find themselves invisible with injustice forced into their small hands and young wombs.
The world watched and cried with Uganda during its time of war. And twenty years later, the world celebrated with Uganda as its peace statue was joyously built in July 2009. With this declaration of peace, the world showered Uganda with gifts and organizations of sympathy and helped Uganda rebuild. They showed love to the invisible children as they grew and held their hands as they wrestled with their painful past and tried to transition into a new season of life.
And then after a while, the eyes of the world got tired and moved to other hardships in the world. The nonprofits that had shown so much kindness to Uganda became invisible to the world’s eyes. The once-generous support dwindled, interest waned, and many nonprofits closed. While these nonprofits had envisioned their job skills training to enable sustainable long-term employment, countless Ugandans found themselves unable to save in the thick of severe inflations and unable to access enough capital to start up a business of their own. And now the once-joyous peace statue stands over a land of adults still struggling to reconcile their pasts, forgive their abductors, and provide for themselves and their families. Many are still desperately waiting for true peace in their lives.
One Ugandan refugee, Simprosa, fled Gulu when the violence erupted and took refuge in Nairobi, Kenya. There she found Amani ya Juu and experienced God’s peace in her life. She was taught how to sew, design, and run a business, and was discipled in her faith by the ladies at Amani Kenya. With the declaration of peace in Gulu, Uganda, Simprosa returned home to Gulu. Soon she realized that many who had found refuge and received job skills training from various nonprofits during the war were now jobless and struggling. They desired to work and use their skills, yet found themselves unable to find employment or access the means to start a business of their own. Her heart broke for them. Led by God in prayer, she sought to show to them the same peace that she had been shown through starting an Amani ya Juu in Uganda. Starting with just one woman and one machine, she watched as God grew Amani Uganda to what it is today and opened the door for many Uganda women to find true peace and reconciliation through the gospel. Her prayer is to help as many women as possible, enabling them to experience long-term healing and earn fair wages to provide for their families in a place saturated in God’s mercy and peace.
God’s peace isn’t always seen through times of prosperity and peace. Trials and warfare allow God to show us just how precious and powerful His peace is, a peace that transcends cultural and ethnic differences and reveals to us our true value as beloved children of God. In the face of conflict and poverty, Amani ya Juu offers a place of peace for marginalized women in Africa, helping women to regain stability and share the gift of peace in their homes, communities, and nations through sewing and reconciliation. Amani offers a wide selection of Fair Trade, high-quality products: handbags, home and kitchen décor, jewelry, and children’s items, all made out of local African materials. Amani Uganda is one of Amani’s seven centers internationally. We invite you to visit us on our website, amaniafrica.org, come visit one of our centers, or pray with us for the continued ministry through Amani ya Juu.