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Winner of the 2010 Canon Female Photojournalist Award

My name is Filda Adoch, I am 53 years old. I was born in Along Village, Paidwe Parish, in Bobi Sub-county, Gulu district, Uganda, where I still live today.

I had to stop school when I was fifteen, because my father could not afford to pay my school fees as he had a lot of women and children. I grew up with my mother, who was a farmer. One day a man came to see me and we got married and we produced two children. After six years of marriage he was taken away to Lujire prison in Kampala, suspected of being a rebel. When Museveni took power in 1986, the soldiers would often come into our area and abduct people, accusing them of being rebels. One day they came and took all the men in the village: some were shot on the spot. I heard the shootings from the field, and I hid. My husband was found in the bush and taken into a hole where they used to put suspected rebels. After three days they took them to Kampala and he died there. I never saw his body and I do not feel in peace for this. My husband was not an LRA rebel.

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After some time I met another man from Koch village and we got married and I had three children with him. A few years after, it was 1996 I think, while working in the field early in the morning, I stepped on a landmine. The rebels had come during the night and had placed landmines all over against the army. But it had rained so I couldn’t see the ground well. When I opened my eyes I was at the hospital and tried to get up and realized that a piece of my leg was missing. When I came back to the village after 3 months I learnt that my husband had been taken by the rebels and killed.

In 2003 we were forced to move to the IDP camp of Bobi. The soldiers often beat us: if we came back after curfew hours they would beat us and roll us in the mud or dump us in the swamp. They also trained our own children to beat people who were not on time. My own son was forced to beat my daughter one night when they were late getting back to the camp. The rebels also came into the camp, twice. They abducted children and took our food; we were scared of both the rebels and the soldiers. In 2004, my son Okello, during the school break, had to go back to school to collect the results of his year. The rebels ambushed the taxi he was in and he was killed. I wanted to go collect his body but my brothers and father refused to give me money for the transport. Some fellow women collected some money and then I sold a goat and used up my savings and paid the transport to collect my son. I brought him home and buried him near the house.

We left the camp a few years ago; we had to stay a long time because we had no money to build a new house. I am happy we are back at home, because I am free here, I can do whatever I want.

I am taking care of my family: five children, two godsons, ten grandchildren, my mother and a brother. All the grandchildren come to my house because in their homes there is nothing to eat. I dig, collect water, fetch the fire-wood, the hay, the cassava, then I come home and cook. I also take care of one cow these days.

Filda, January 2011

Martina Bacigalupo

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