"I quickly awoke to the sound of screaming and shouting all around me.I immediately became frozen with fear as I was unable to determine the source.Were they inside the hut?Were they at the door?By the window?I could make out words but their thick African accents were too much for me to translate.The shouts became louder and everything around me was in a nightmare-like chaos.People were definitely inside the hut, I could hear feet running across the floor.What were they going to do?Was this a game, a joke, an attack?There were at least four or five of them and the rhythmic patterns in their shouting seemed almost like a chant. What did they want?
The screaming quieted.Were they gone?
“What just happened?” My heart slowed as I easily recognized Ibrah’s voice.
“Dude, I don’t know.What just happened?” I nervously responded.I sat up and turned on my head lamp.
“Shine the light here?I don’t have my glasses, I need some light,” Patrick asked.As I adjusted my light I was easily able to light up the room.Both of my hut mates were standing near my hammock and I could see both of them were breathing heavily.There were blankets and clothes strewn about the floor, but there was no sign of anyone else in the room.
“What just happened?” I repeated.
“I…don’t know?” Patrick responded.He was sweating and seemed to be very uneasy.
“I jumped up to help you,” Ibrah said.“You were screaming and you ran over to me.I could feel your fingers through my mosquito net, and I thought someone had hold of you.”
“Dude…that was a crazy dream”
Patrick had a nightmare, or a night terror.He somehow ripped his way through his mosquito net and once on the floor he began screaming for help.He then rushed over to Ibrah’s hammock, and Ibrah responded with a similar reaction, tearing his way through his mosquito net to help his distressed friend.They then both began screaming, as Ibrah was calling for me to get up and help.However I, so consumed with fear and uncertainty, was unable to make out the shouts for help.For a brief moment my world was flipped upside down.All the security I had in the safety of the compound was lost even as I tried to fall back asleep.It had all seemed so real, and my imagination was on the fritz.“Anyone could come in at any moment,” I remember thinking.I had no way of hiding or protecting myself.I was helpless. In all my fear I feel like God was trying to open my eyes to a harsh reality.This feeling of helplessness is one that is not completely foreign to the district of Gulu, Uganda.It wasn’t too long ago that LRA soldiers kidnapped and murdered in this village.Kids would have to walk into town at night in order to have any sense of security, but who knows how safe they actually felt. In a brief moment I got a very watered down version of what life must have resembled.A constant uncertainty as to what was going to happen next.Would you be killed?Kidnapped?Raped?It’s near impossible to imagine the complexity of the fear that must have plagued the area.If I was so easily disturbed by the shouts of my two friends, what must it have been like when there were gun shots brought into the mix?I’m sure they were probably much harder people than I, however in simply getting a taste of my own response I’ve developed a whole new perception of the area. The children here laugh and play, their parents are constantly greeting me with smiles and always seem to show a genuine interest in getting to know a bit more about me.There is a real joy within the people here, a joy that one doesn’t often see in the United States.There is a deep appreciation of life, whereas in the States the idea of a “long drop” toilet has most of us screaming for justice.We take so much for granted."