Past years of war, HIV/AIDS and crony capitalism have left African nations in a state of considerable disrepair. Many millions of people struggle to eke out an existence that most in the West would describe as barely surviving. But let’s not just think about money and poverty and food. Think for a while about Ugandan society: the social structures and relationships that every Ugandan is a part of.
Families, villages, clans and tribes have been torn apart by war and HIV/AIDS. Often, children who have barely begun their schooling are suddenly full-time carers for younger siblings and for their grand-parents. And they are expected to do so with only the bare essentials of village life, and sometimes without even that.
Many of these children have lost their parents because of war, disease, violence and property grabs that have left them without an inheritance – many times without so much as the right to a small piece of land on which to live and build a house and grow food. Some are too young to know how to do these things.
Disability as we in the West know it is very often still viewed as a curse of the gods. Consequently, many with a disability are either abandoned, discarded and left to survive if they can on their own. Many are targeted as beings of little value, to be used as slave labour or as scapegoats for crime.
To this day, in some parts of Africa, rape is currency; and some soldiers are still using rape as an expression of military might and tribal superiority. As this continues, HIV/AIDS never goes away and continues to ravage many African communities. And rape continues to be viewed as shame on the women involved who most often find they are rejected by their husbands when they are raped.