For the last 22 years, the nightmare has begun at sundown in Acholiland, Northern Uganda. Under the cover of darkness, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has kidnapped, enslaved, raped and forcibly conscripted more than 20,000 children, some as young as six years old. Those who survive their initiation into the rebel army of self-proclaimed spirit medium, Joseph Kony, are forced to kill their own people, including their one-time playmates and their village elders. Those who survive the ravages of war must now endure a truncated life from HIV/AIDS or starvation. They must also find a way of life among corrupt government soldiers whose protection from the LRA rebels may be accompanied by heinous abuses of power. In “The Children’s War,” survivors finally give voice to atrocities suffered and performed. At great personal risk, rebel commanders, elders, teachers, social workers and the children themselves reveal what has been obscured to the world, until recently. Through raw and tender dialogue, the audience sees that, indeed, hope still stirs in their hearts. At the close of her interview, 14-year-old Atto Jennifer is asked if she has a final message to help others understand the events in Northern Uganda. A schoolgirl’s giggle escapes her lips before she replies with quiet sincerity, “There is nothing more I can say. You have seen with your own eyes.”
“The Children’s War” is an eye-opening and compelling film about the atrocities against the people of Northern Uganda. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by an evil man named Joseph Kony, beats and wounds teens, such as 17-year-old Tito. Kony was arrested for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, although he was still at large during the time of this documentary’s release. A teen girl named Jennifer, who wants to be a nun, speaks of her rape by soldiers, as well as the rape of her sister Evelyn. She also sings a hymn, in an amazing display of her courage and faith. One former soldier, initially captured by the LRA, now dedicates himself to nursing.
The scenes in the film are mind boggling, with children’s corpses seen laying on the ground, and a child being struck with a club, not to mention the comments about the many children and women who were raped and beaten. This documentary is not easy to watch at times, but it does a good job in showing the amazing value of hope and how so many of these victims, such as Jennifer, have clung to it. We are pleased to award “The Children’s War” our Faith Based Seal, due to some objectionable violent scenes. Still, the portrayal of the children’s spirit is to be commended.