‘My battle to be alive today has not been easy, but the kindness and generosity of one of the role models in my community encouraged me to carry on. I therefore live every day knowing I was given a second chance at life by a perfect stranger called ACFODE.’
Despite her old age (86) and being a mother of 18 children, ErupadisaAluzu still looks strong and energetic. When we arrived at her home in Barudong village in Apac sub-county, Erupadisa was seated at the doorway of her house listening to a programme on her small radio. The lonely atmosphere at her home did not stop her from welcoming us with a broad smile as she reached out for stools from her unfinished house for us to sit on. Erupadisa’s compound is covered by the graves of her 15 children who passed away.
On introducing ourselves and why we had visited her,Erupadisa narrated that she re-located from Gulu where she had lived with her husband and returned to Barudong, her mother’s home in Apac district. She relocated because of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war that had affected Gulu district. As she proceeded with the story, Erupadisa pointed out the graves in her compound, explaining who the deceased were.
‘These are my children and one grave belongs to my late elder sister. When I lost my elder sister, my nephew who is now 34 years oldand other relatives started accusing me of being a witch. They accused me of hiding witchcraft in one of the graves in my compound. At one time, they attempted to dig up the grave and take out the witchcraft.’Erupadisa testified that her life was transformed when she was introduced to a Catholic catechist in her community by the name of LucianoOkabo.
Luciano is a male role model who was trained by ACFODE to advocate gender-responsive socio-cultural practices that promote women and girls’ rights. Luciano frequently visits Erupadisa, prays with her and encourages her. During our third visit in August 2015, Erupadisa was considering committing suicide because her nephew had persisted in accusing her of witchcraft. However, she never went ahead to take her own life since Luciano counselled her and continued supporting her. Fortunately enough, Luciano was able to organisea family meeting between Erupadisa, her nephew and other relatives. He managed to get them to settle the matter and reconciled Erupadisawithher relatives.
Since the meeting, the accusations against Erupadisa have ceased. She now lives peacefully in her home and co-exists harmoniously with her relatives. ‘I hope that before I die I’ll travel to Kampala and visit the ACFODE offices, because brother Luciano tells me a lot about the good work ACFODE is doing to help communities in Apac district,’Erupadisa concludedexcitedly.