I hear thunder. Or at least that’s what I think it is. There was lightening earlier in the night, so thunder is a logical explanation. But I am not in Kampala tonight. I am in Adjumani. Which is very close to South Sudan. What I just heard was not thunder. It was war. 

Today I flew over a bunch of refugee settlements. Green fields. Nicely structured roads. Little squares with tents and houses made of white plastic. It all looks perfectly peaceful from above. 

I sit down with my colleagues after the meeting ended somewhere between 7 and 8. We have some tea. Listen to the crickets under the stars. A typical Uganda night upcountry. 

Until that thunder sound that isn’t thunder. It’s war, just across the border in South Sudan. It’s the reason why more than 1 million South Sudanese are here in Uganda. It’s why I get to fly in a plane to go to work. 

Then the stories come. “In 1997, when I was in grade X, the girls from the school next to mine, where abducted and raped by Kony’s LRA.” The Lord Resistance Army. I remember the tv stories when I was only a kid myself. Now I work with people that actually went through it all. Colleagues, not much older than me, that were traumatized because people in their villages were chopped to pieces with knives. 

Yes, this life is really, really tough sometimes. All I think is ‘Lord, have mercy’ and at the same time.. I am amazed by the resilience of people. Proud I get to work with these inspirational people that really make a difference in the everyday life of some of these 1+ million South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans that give their land away to all these newcomers. I am not saying it all goes smooth, that there are never any issues. But in the end it’s working a bit towards a better, more peaceful world in these hills up north.

And that my friend, is something, we Europeans and Americans, definitely can learn something from.