This is the Story of one woman who I admire and I feel the International community should be aware of. Margaret Arach Orech, like any other person was full of life. As a widow and a single mother of 5 children, she had to work to fend for her family, send them to school provide the basic needs in life and on top of that, provide for her old parents. Margaret’s dream of seeing her family through was almost chattered in 1998 on that fateful day when she saw death face to face. On her way from Kitgum, her work station with International Service Volunteers’ Association, a job she had just got, was on her way back to Kampala. Margaret wanted to celebrate Christmas together with her family but unfortunately she had to spend months instead in Hospital. Their bus rode on a landmine and she lost a limp. The anger, the frustration and the helplessness were intolerable. She could have given up on life but the thought of her children becoming total orphans pushed her on and the belief that “God allows certain things to happen in our lives for a reason” kept her alive. Margaret is now an Ambassador for landmine victims. She started an Organization called Uganda Landmine Survivors’ Association in 2005. This Organization does a number of activities amongst which are: • Strengthening the capacity of landmine survivor groups and providing leadership training for victims and other People with disabilities. • Advocating, mobilizing and lobbying for adequate Mine Action Programming and Survivor Assistance • Establishing support mechanisms that foster socio-economic reintegration and providing peer to peer support by initiating exchange visits and recreational activities. • Establishing Micro Credit schemes, income generating activities for economic reintegration and provisioning a referral system for rehabilitation of landmine survivors • Linking landmine survivors with the Ugandan disabled peoples’ movement and taking a lead role in International, Regional and National meetings on the Mine Ban Treaty, Convention on Cluster and Disability issues. Uganda Landmine Survivors’ Association is a member of International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Visit www.icbl.org and search for ULSA you will find more on Margaret. Margaret’s work is not without challenges. She has landmine survivors in different parts of Uganda like Northern Uganda and Western Uganda where she has to carry out the above objectives. Talking to her, you can see a person who is committed to her work but has funding limitations. As we celebrate Christmas and approach the New Year 2012, if there are people out there who would like to reach out to Margaret, and give a helping hand please do so. I will bring you more stories on the lives of other landmine survivors and how they are coping with their lives and what Margaret is doing to help them in my next article.
Beatrice Keronga, Kampala, Uganda.