A young man named Daniel came to see us a couple days after we got here. He has a degree in computer science. He’s sharp, compassionate and likes politics. He cares for his aunt’s kids during the week and on the weekend bikes to his village 20km away and works on the family’s land. On Sunday he bikes to the neighboring region over 4 hours away to bring 5 boxes of tomatoes to Lira where he can sell them at a profit of about $2. He says he would do that every day but his aunt can only let him borrow her bike on the weekend. At 21 he’s the only one of the family with an education but he hasn’t found a steady job. The burden to provide is heavy on him but he bares it well and is clearly not afraid to work hard.
We were talking about playing soccer barefoot. I said I didn’t want Ben to play barefoot because he might break a toe. Daniel looked at me seriously, as if that was the silliest thing I could’ve said. “You don’t want him to break? But he will break! Man was made to be broken! How can we not break—with all our passion—no, we will break. That is what we’re made for.”
Saturday evenings are his only free time and so far he’s spent them drinking tea with us. Yesterday we heard more of his story while we watched the African sun sink low on our back porch. Two years ago the LRA came to his house and abducted him along with his little brother. After a week in captivity they had walked from Lira all the way to Sudan. During a battle between the UPDF (Ugandan forces) and the LRA he managed to escape with his brother. He had been badly beaten. He still carries the scars. But, he says, I was able to protect my brother. His brother was only 7 years old.