We are blessed here in Australia to live the majority of our time in such peace and calm. The incidents in Martin Place, Sydney on Monday 15 December 2014 only amplify this sentiment. Hostages were taken in what is called the “Sydney Siege” as the whole city, country and parts of the World went into overdrive over the rare occurrence of a possible terrorist attack in Sydney.
It’s awful. It’s horrible. It’s scary. And for other people, in other parts of the world, violence is just daily activity.
I recently visited Uganda with World Vision Australia on the #WVAbloggers tour to learn about their projects. Before you go, you are given copious amounts of reading materials on the country you will be visiting. Culture, health warnings, safety, history and so much more. The safety and health warnings were of course something to note, especially with Africa currently facing ebola and fears of it spreading to other parts of the continent and the World. But for me it was the history that stood out the most. The war torn, dictator led and home based violence that this country has endured was astounding. Most of us cannot even begin to imagine what it is like to live through such a thing. For some people, even as I write this, it’s just another day.
I loved seeing the shirts above worn by community members. ACT NOW: Stop gender based violence. Speaking out against such things and standing together as a community has made huge changes.
We first saw these shirts when we met these beautiful smiling women. They have come from broken homes where they possibly experienced family violence from their parents, or marital violence from their spouse. The majority of them had not been able to finish school due to lack of money, leaving a broken home or marriage or falling pregnant with a child.
Here I am pictured talking to a beautiful smiling girl. She was laughing and embarrassed and shy to speak to me. It was a little hard to communicate but I wanted to ask her how being there had changed her life. This was a vocational training skills program. Here she would learn to sew, knit and tailor with the possibility to work in someone else’s sewing business or even start her own. From a disadvantaged background to an opportunity to have financial freedom, that’s something to smile about.
This photo is hard for me to see. I struggled when speaking to this woman in green. She was nursing a baby, less than one month old. She was in her late teens and she just did not want to be there. I couldn’t work out if she was shy and not wanting to engage me or if she was genuinely unhappy. I tried to ask her about her time here and if it was difficult with the baby. One of the other girls seemed to point out that there wasn’t really a marital structure around her and that the baby was perhaps from an unfortunate circumstance. I can’t even imagine what this poor girl is going through. I left her alone but I walked away with a sad and heavy heart.
Ultimately, meeting these women was inspiring and enlightening. They are determined to gain skills, continue their education and make a future for themselves. With the support of World Vision Australia and local community groups. No-one should have to live in fear or be stopped from doing something through fear of violence or terror.
Again, my sincerest regards go out to those in the hostage scene in Sydney and their families. What a horrible ordeal to endure. My heart at the same time goes out to women who are perhaps at this moment living in a home where they endure domestic violence on a daily basis. To all those in war-torn countries with battles raging at this very moment, my heart goes out to your soldiers and innocent people caught in the crossfire. To those who have fled from their homes in search of safety, I think of you today.
And to my Australian Government… #Dontcutaid
Follow my journey with World Vision Australia in Uganda on a number of channels: