When it takes 14 years to get justice

How do you keep going when it takes years – 14 years – to see justice for an attack?

This is life for the advocates in Kyampisi, who spend their days and nights stopping child sacrifice.

It’s hard work. Slow work. But that doesn’t stop them. KCM might be a small, grass-roots organisation, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change a nation.

“It still amuses me that we would be called to respond to issues across the country, as small as we are,” says Peter Michael, Director of KCM.

“You could expect a bigger organisation to deal with these issues nationally because they have the resources and expertise, and sometimes we go with faith because we don’t know how we’re going to meet with them.

“It’s stretched us as a team to know that we’re not fighting our own battle, but God is doing it and we’re running with him. We can’t win without him.”

For these crusaders, it’s their own children who motivate them to protect others in the community. Peter’s wife, Joeline, says:

“I have a baby and I couldn’t imagine child sacrifice happening to her. That keeps me going… the fact we have to stop this practice because tomorrow, it may be my daughter,” she says.

Joeline is spurred on by seeing the witch doctors, who trick and take advantage of families, sent to prison for life.

“When these people get death sentences, I’m happy because we don’t want them in the community. They will come for our children again, so these sentences keep me going.”

So far, five judgements have been given against witch doctors who practice child sacrifice. They are published in the newspapers to spread word of the punishments. And the KCM team say these convictions are making a difference.

“[The witch doctors] are getting scared because they can see if they are sacrificing people, they can get the same punishment. So, it is slowing it down,” Joeline says.

But eradicating the practice isn’t straightforward. “In the places we have worked, the problem is shrinking. But the witch doctors often just run away from these districts and then go to the next one,” she says.

Justice, unfortunately, cannot always be swift. A case of a boy who was attacked in 2003 only reached judgement stage earlier this year… 14 years later.

“Prosecution is one thing but [education and campaigning] is another,” Peter Michael says. “Education is huge because it involves people and communities, and needs a lot of resources, which we don’t have.”

You can join the team and stamp out child sacrifice in Uganda – visit www.dias.asn.au/online-donations and allocate your donation to ‘Kyampisi’.