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Stories of Girl Soldiers—and Survivors

3-19-15
By Carey Dunne, 25, reporting from Brooklyn, NY, on an extraordinary book that honors the heroic women of northern Uganda

The girl soldiers who grew up forced to fight by the Lord's Resistance Army in the Ugandan civil war have rarely been safe or supported to talk about that harrowing part of their lives, even as adults. Enduring the Night: Courageous Stories of Survival by Former Girl Soldiers, a new book currently funding on Kickstarter, compiles photographs and true testimonials of conflict survivors from northern Uganda. The narratives follow in the country's rich storytelling tradition, giving voices to brave women who have long been brutally silenced.

Writers Kristin Barlow and Natalie Committee met in Gulu while working at a refugee center for women traumatized by war. They were so moved by the powerful stories and the storytelling of the women they met that Barlow and Committee were determined to share the survivors' experiences with the rest of the world. The central figure in their book is Grace—who was abducted and taken as a soldier at age 10, forced to fight, and then as a 12-year-old to marry and bear children. "For girls in the bush, life was somehow harder," Grace says to the authors. "Some days when I thought I could just die, I found that there was still more to endure in the night." Here, she tells the story of her resilience and continuing recovery from a childhood of unimaginable trauma.

"If we mourned all of those who died, then we would die of sadness. Instead, we will laugh and share their stories. This is how we honor them. This is how we survive," one friend of the writers in Uganda said of the project. Barlow and Committee are putting 100-percent of the proceeds toward supportive services for war-affected women like those featured, via the organization ChildVoice. Go here to read more stories, support the courage of these women and pre-order a copy of the book.

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