In a sharply tailored suit with long braided hair and an easy smile, Akallo Grace Grall is thousands of miles away from the African bush and 10 years removed from the living hell in which she was trapped as a child victim of war—-as a child soldier of Uganda.
Now a communications student of Gordon College and an associate with the new advocacy and aid group ChildVoice International, Grace testified on Wed., April 26, at the House Subcommittee on Human Rights and Africa, chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), in an appearance arranged by World Vision.
Her testimony was unimaginably chilling, as she outlined the horror that no woman, no child, no human being should go through, abducted with dozens of other girls from a boarding school in northern Uganda in 1996, and forced to kill or be killed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). She face was subjugated in pure terror, with children killed for offenses ranging from attempted escape to crying. Grace was forced to kill two other children, was given to a LRA officer as a sex slave, and once passed out from exhaustion and buried alive.
She survived and escaped to safety. Today, she recounts the horror and mourns those she left behind, those who died, those who have never escaped and are part of the 30,000 children conscripted by the LRA. They remain the fighters, child shields, and slaves of Joseph Kony and his LRA thugs. Her testimony not only gripped the members of Congress who attended, but provided a chilling illustration of pure evil in the 21st Century.
The children of Uganda are part of the international shame of child soldiers and only one example of the slavery that remains in our world.
ChildVoice International is one group that is committed to shining a light on the problem, and restoring the voices and the vitality of these children, in Uganda and around the world. Others are laboring in Uganda, including World Vision and Refugees International, who were represented at the hearing.
Our own inconveniences of life fade away in the shadow of such horrible images, provided by a soft-spoken and courageous young woman who escaped from hell and has made it her mission to work for the peace of Uganda and the rescue of others who remain in evil’s grasp.