Dora and GloriaRich Stigall
By Alison L. Barfoot (The Rev. Canon Dr.), Executive Director of GO Africa in Kampala, Uganda
In the beginning, the Gulu Father’s House was supposed to accommodate 100 children. But, then the government guidelines suggested smaller villages, so the GO Africa team recommended capping the Gulu Father’s House at its current capacity of 36 children – nine children in four homes.
The Management Committee, however, knew the need for church-based kinship care for the children in their community. Before being the site of The Father’s House, the land was used as an IDP (Internally Displaced People) camp for war victims from a community called Keyo. The Keyo Primary School also moved and a temporary school was built, so the Keyo children who were displaced would continue to go to school. When the war with the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army – Joseph Kony) ended, the displaced people went back home to Keyo and the temporary school block was no longer needed as a school. The local church’s Father’s House homes were then constructed right in front of the temporary school building.
The church agreed to allocate the use of that temporary school building to The Father’s House. One room was used to store the sacks of food harvested from their farm to feed the children. The other room was used as a multi-purpose hall.
Still, the church wanted to offer care for more children. So, they took one of the rooms in the temporary school building and converted it into a fifth home and took in eight new girls in February 2014. There are now 44 children being cared for in the Gulu Father’s House. The expenses to renovate the school building into a home were paid for entirely by the local church and the Father’s House.
One of the new girls is nine-year old Dora. Her mother was abducted by the LRA from her village and taken to an LRA camp where she was abused by LRA soldiers. While she was enslaved by the LRA, she gave birth to Dora and they lived in the “bush” for two years until Dora’s mother was able to escape with Dora.
The trauma experienced by Dora’s mother has affected her life such that she can’t adequately care for Dora. So, Dora is one of the new, eight girls now living at The Father’s House.
Dora doesn’t remember her traumatic life with the LRA, but the trauma remembers her. Every night, she screams because of the trauma. So, Gloria, the Father’s House Coordinator, Dora’s new mother at The Father’s House, and the pastor pray with Dora every night so that she will feel safe and secure, and that she will sleep peacefully. Gloria told us, “The prayer is helping. She’s sleeping better now.”
Dora doesn’t know who her father is, but now she’s getting to know her Heavenly Father and that He cares for her enough to give her another Mom, brothers and sisters, a safe place to live, food to eat, and a family who literally prays for her every night.