Each year thousands of devout Christians walk many miles to worship at the Uganda Martyrs’ Shrine outside Kampala. Catholic pilgrimage sites worldwide attract millions of visitors, who pump tourism money into local economies. For developing and post-conflict countries in particular, that money brings jobs and infrastructure improvements.
In rural Uganda, girls preparing for marriage traditionally relied on paternal aunts – called ssengas – for intimate instruction in sex and domestic life, including lessons in the controversial regional practice of labia stretching. As the familial ssenga tradition waned, professional ssengas began fulfilling a role that many Ugandans still consider vital. But a year after Parliament and the president enacted a law banning the production and dissemination of sexual imagery, two professional ssengas are fighting porn charges that could land them in prison.
As the first indicted Lord’s Resistance Army commander awaits trial at the International Criminal Court, victims of the rebel group’s atrocities are recovering from war trauma with the help of nonprofit organizations and the Ugandan government. Those who were abducted in childhood and forced to fight often seek counseling and support as they wrestle with depression, guilt, rage, substance abuse and stigma. Still, some of the civilians who lost loved ones in the long rebel war demand the prosecution of conscripts who, like the officer charged with war crimes, grew to embrace the cause.
In Uganda, where an elaborate wedding is a mark of success, couples are going deep in debt to put on impressive celebrations. Capitalizing on the business opportunities these events provide, entrepreneurs have opened more than 50 wedding planning companies in Kampala, the capital, over the past five years.
To prevent unplanned pregnancies and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, nonprofit organizations and Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, supply condoms to students through student leaders and peer educators.
Frustrated by what they perceive as the government’s unresponsiveness to the needs of the people, Ugandan civil society organizations increasingly ask the courts to enforce the constitution and national legislation.
Heavy rains in Uganda’s Kasese district have caused devastating floods, prompting the local government to educate residents on the risks of farming near rivers in a country that is especially vulnerable to climate change.
Whatever they achieved before doing time, inmates have the opportunity to advance at prison schools through the university level. By preparing to work in trades and professions upon release, they grown in self-esteem and substantially reduce their risk of reoffending. Prison crowding impinges on their ability to focus on their studies, but construction plans and changes in the justice system promise to alleviate that problem.