"My name is Peter*, and this is my story"
In a bustling refugee settlement in Uganda, a beaming boy cradles a baby pigeon. He’s been looking after it since it hatched. “I can handle with care,” he says.
Peter had a happy early childhood in South Sudan. He loved school, especially maths, drama and drawing. But when he was ten, civil war broke out and tore his childhood apart. Afraid he would be shot dead, Peter ran for his life.
He lost his family in the chaos. “The fighting broke out and each person went his or her way,” says Peter. “We ran to the bush and hid.”
Alone and struggling to find food, Peter joined an armed group. “They gave us weapons for shooting,” he says. “They trained you how to load a gun, how to put in the bullet and release the trigger for the gun to shoot.” He was 13 years old.
But Peter’s love of education gave him the strength to escape. He ran first to Democratic Republic of Congo, then to Uganda in the hope of going back to school.
When Peter reached safety we helped him find normality again. Our case workers provided psychosocial support so he felt able to return to school and benefit from the education he so desperately dreamed of.
Peter still misses his family, and he fears the armed group he ran from. But he has big plans for both himself and his country:
“When I finish my studies and graduate, I want to become the President of the Republic of South Sudan.”
Peter was a child soldier. But he’s so much more. “I look forward to the future, and the future is here.”
*Name changed to protect identity.
Peter is proof: the world can be a better place.
When Peter arrived in Uganda, he opened a small shop, but all the stock was stolen, including all his clothes and most of his money. 15,000 Ugandan shillings (just over £3) was all he had left. He used this to buy a pair of pigeons, but one of them became his most treasured possession – the pigeon he named Am.
"I named it ‘Am’ because I had lost everything. It was the only thing left for me. That is the meaning in the Gimunu language.”
Their stories, their words
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