Ten women, all residents of Ngomoromo Parish in Lukung Sub-county in Gulu District, woke up on February 20, 2005, to run the daily house chores; little did they know danger awaited them at Nimu well.
The women, who on Wednesday narrated their ordeal, say they had walked two miles from their homes to draw water when the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels attacked them and cut off their lips using one knife.
Ms Sylvia Alal, one of the victims, says one of them was killed instantly after she cried to have her baby back who had been taken by the rebels.
Ms Alal says after cutting their lips, the rebels took off, leaving them bleeding and were later helped by people who had gone to collect water at the same well.
“We were left helpless bleeding and our rescuers came after an hour and we were taken to the hospital. But since the incident, our health is not good,” Ms Aol says, citing that the use of one knife to mutilate their lips could have exposed them to several diseases.
Suffering and pain
Ms Scovia Acan,30, and mother of three, marauding rebels caused them suffering and pain and some of them were even rejected by their husbands.
“Although we received the surgery in 2008, many of us still have the pain, especially when it comes to hard work. We also have no alternative because we are the bread winners in our homes,” Ms Acan says, adding that most of them are widows having lost their husbands in the war and they are supposed to fend for their families to make ends meet.
While handing over 16 oxen and ox-ploughs as the source of livelihood to the women, the ambassador of Invisible Children Uganda, Ms Jolly Okot, said: “ These women still need to be helped in the areas of health as many still complain of the pain though the surgery was done on them.”
Grace Aboka says after the incident, her husband’s relatives advised him to reject her, saying she was a bad omen to the family. Aboka, however, says her husband stood by her.
The two-decade war in the north resulted in gross violation of human rights and loss of lives.
It is estimated that 1.5 million people were displaced from their homes into camps and tens of thousands lost their lives.
More than 30,000 children have been abducted by rebels to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves and 20,000 people maimed.
Between 2004 and 2006, the Plastic Surgery team of Mulago Hospital rehabilitated 34 victims of the war.
Of these 23 were females and 11 were males.
Most of the people had suffered severe disfigurements which necessitated multiple reconstructive procedures on them.
The majority of the reconstructive operations were on the lips despite the fact that many victims had also suffered from mutilation of other body parts, including limbs, ears and hands.