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Regina's GuluWalk draws attention to Uganda, Sudan
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Oct 26, 2008 - 8:49:01 AM

Regina's GuluWalk draws attention to Uganda, Sudan
Veronica Rodes

REGINA -- Kamilio Lodongi is a long way from his home in southern Sudan, from which he was forced to flee in order to survive.

"It was pretty rough. I lived there with my family. My dad used to be in the army. He lost his life. He was killed in war so we had to leave my country immediately or we were going to get killed too," explained Lodongi.

The family first moved to Egypt before immigrating to Canada more than four years ago. Lodongi, a recent graduate of Dr. Martin Leboldus High School, is now training to be a carpenter, but he hasn't forgotten where he came from.

Lodongi joined roughly 35 other people who gathered on Saturday to take part in GuluWalk, an annual event held around the world to raise awareness for the children affected by the more than 20-year conflict in northern Uganda and southern Sudan. Due to the war between the rebel Lord's Resistance Army and the Ugandan government, roughly two million people were forced into displacement camps while tens of thousands of children were abducted to be soldiers or slaves.

Joshua Campbell, a Christian Ethics teacher from Wilcox's Notre Dame College, organized Saturday's walk in Regina, which started from Victoria Park and ended at the Legislative Building. Campbell saw the plight of Ugandan families affected by the conflict first-hand when he spent a year teaching in the eastern African country.

"I had the opportunity to meet a boy there in a camp where he had just escaped from the rebel group. Just to hear his stories, as a 12-year-old boy, I'll never forget sitting down with him and him telling me the story of how he escaped. I asked him what his dream was and he said, 'I just want a education,'" explained Campbell.

He has stayed connected with what is going on in northern Uganda and, through his teaching, has spurred his students' interest in the cause.

"One thing I'm impressed with our students and I think young people in general is they get behind causes really easily. They don't have some of the barriers, they are just really open to helping out other people," Campbell explained.

One of those students inspired to act is Daniel Smith, a Grade 12 student at Notre Dame. He is planning to join Campbell and some other students on a trip to Uganda next summer, where the group will help build a school.

"From all that I've seen from the stuff Josh has shown me from the past times he has been there, it is just that they all seem like they are great people and what they're going through just isn't right," said Smith, prior to the start of the walk on Saturday.

Drew George has also been touched by Campbell's stories of his experiences in Uganda. The Grade 12 Notre Dame student has written letters to some of the students Campbell knows in Uganda.

"We're (all) students around the same age. They just talk about how much they like playing soccer and stuff like that, which I can connect to being an athlete myself. (It is) just how innocent children are there and how they are basically like one of us," said George.

GuluWalk also raised funds to support families in northern Uganda and southern Sudan who have been affected by the conflict. Lodongi admitted that he was shocked to hear that such an event was being held in Regina to help his people back home.

"When they hear (about this event), they will actually know there are people out there who care about them. Obviously they will know that there is reason for living," Lodongi explained.

"Some people don't even care about living right now because of the hard life they go through everyday ... But when they hear this kind of stuff happening for them, they try to make it. It gives them hope."

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