If you lived in Gulu in Northern Uganda you'd get this excited about a little shoe box of pencils, paper and small toys too. This is the area of Uganda where a rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army has been burning villages, killing, raping, and abducting thousands of children in order make them soliders. Gulu is also one of the cities that housed thousands of night commuting children who left their villages each night and walked hours and hours in order to find a safer place to sleep: under verandas and in the bus parks. Two year ago we would not have been able to visit this place. But for now there is tenuous peace agreement.
We were in Gulu to celebrate World Refugee Day (if you can really celebrate such a thing.) These kids received shoe boxes packed by families in Europe and the US as little tokens of encouragement. The young woman in this photo was looking for something a little more encouraging. She told me how her parents were gone and she was living with an Aunt and Uncle. She had finished secondary school, which is almost a miracle in place where she lives, and she really wants to study at the University. She was hoping I would sponsor her studies so she could have a future. What do you say to that? "I can't, but here have a shoe box?" We both walked away from the conversation feeling disappointed.