Rose Aber, currently the Director of Village of Hope Uganda, was among 300 people who were in the first attack from Joseph Kony. She was just eight years old at the time.
Kony was a man posing as a preacher and prophet who took advantage of the struggle between two governments fighting one another in Uganda. Once the local communities were on his side, he trapped the people and began to commit unthinkable atrocities towards them.
Kony’s force, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), abducted children as young as six and made them serve as child soldiers or used them as sex slaves for his army leaders. Many of them were forced to kill their own parents and family.
As families tried to flee attacks, they would run in different directions, separating the family from each other. It was a strategy to distract their attackers, but left thousands of children misplaced.
Out of 300 people in that first attack, Rose was one of the 30 survivors. She lost many family members and friends during that attack.
“I asked the question, ‘Why did God choose me to survive?’” Rose said. “I started praying to Him that maybe one day, He would enable me to serve by making the lives of kids or people who have been affected by the war better.”
Rose went to university and studied social work to fulfill her dream of wanting to support the people who had been affected by the war.
“After my studies, I came back and went straight to take care of the kids who were sleeping randomly in the streets. I would spend nights on the streets watching the kids.”
As the number of children climbed, Rose moved an initial group of 70 children to a night shelter and watched over them there.
“Before we realized it, we were hosting over 5,000 kids every night. I was the only counselor. Every night, it was so overwhelming, but I felt I wanted to be there with them to let them know that at least there was an adult in their lives.”
Eventually, the government shut the night commuter centers down and the children had nowhere to go. Rose began searching for the children’s families.
“We started connecting them with their relatives, and they were not really willing to receive the kids back into their homes. The more traumatizing part of it was, that was when many of the kids learned that their parents were killed by the Rebels, so it was like a double blow.”
After searching for family and guardians, Rose was left with 24 orphaned children who had no place to go. Without hesitation, Rose took them to her one-bedroom house in Gulu to take care of them. Through her search to find someone to care for these children, Rose met Cindy Cunningham, who became the founder of Village of Hope Uganda.
“Out of those kids, Village of Hope was founded,” Rose said.
Ten years later, those children or their children are at Village of Hope (VOH). These are the people who our Baylor Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) team has the privilege of teaching this week and next.
“Most of our vocational students were directly affected by the Rebels. Many of them were abducted, they were child soldiers, they went through all the traumatic events by the Rebels,” Rose said. “But yet, God has rescued them from there, brought them to Village of Hope and now they have a new beginning.”
The Baylor BUV team of students has been preparing for this mission for the past few months with the goals being to teach the VOH vocational students skills in building a vehicle such as the BUV and to complete it – starting from scratch – in under two weeks.
“We really are very thankful for Baylor University for partnering with us into making our students’ dreams come true because this is opening their horizon and making them perform better to compete with the rest of the world,” Rose said. “We feel so blessed for the opportunity.”
The project is moving along successfully so far. Continue to watch our website and Baylor Engineering and Computer Science Facebook and Instagram pages for updates!
Read Roses’s full story here.
Learn more about Village of Hope here.