Apac is in the northern part of the country. It’s in the region where Joseph Kony was kidnapping kids to be sex slaves and soldiers, and hacking off arms of people he and his followers didn’t like. But that was 10 years ago, and the largely rural people are trying to make a life again. It’s hard going. I saw people walking around with half arms.
I was there to do what I could to support an NGO (International Lifeline Fund) that had been successful in supplying camp stoves to refugees and digging clean water wells near villages. Since the wells had been successful, the villagers now have more time available and so I was asked to come up with a plan to teach them small business skills so they could make more money with that free time. So I did what I could. What impressed me the most was how many smiles I saw. Maybe it’s because nobody has much (walking was the norm, some had bicycles, and a very few had motorbikes. Only NGOs and businesses had trucks or cars.), and so there was an equality that is missing in the US. As part of my work I visited and interviewed two villages about what they thought they needed for small business education. One village greeted me with a wonderful dance, waving branches, and singing as they walked me to my seat, clearly they had been waiting for me. A boy, maybe 1 year old, started to cry and his mom had to talk him away. I found later that I was the first white man to visit their village (really? It’s 2015!) and the little boy had been scared of my white face. I was stunned.
I had the meeting, with the help of an interpreter and before I left the village women sang me song and again danced me back out to the road. I was very honored that they treated me with such respect.