At the height of the war that ousted Idi Amin, the Headmistress at Bweranyangi decided to absolve herself of the responsibility of minding hundreds of teenage girls when fleeing Amin soldiers and some randy 'liberators' were raping girls and women. She called an assembly and asked those who could leave to go home and those that could not she would keep and try to protect. My family lived over 300 miles away in Kampala but I was not letting an opportunity to leave school pass by so I decided to go with those girls who were headed to Mbarara town about 40 miles away. It was the town where I was born and my grandfather lived close to our country home so that would be my proposed destination. No transport was provided by the school so we had to walk.
By the time we got to Rwentuha barely 10 miles into the walk I was exhausted. To my relief an old Uncle came and claimed me from the group of pedestrians saying my father had sent him to meet me. I hesitated to leave my group of friends but I was later grateful that he cut my journey short and I stayed at his home with my cousin Eva until the war passed through the west and headed to the capital city, Kampala. Months later my Aunt Aida came for me and together we hitch hiked the rest of the way to Kakiika, Mbarara using rural routes to avoid soldiers on the highway, spending nights at relatives' homes. I stayed with my paternal grandfather in Kakiika until the war ended and my mother finally came to pick me. I remember the joy of seeing my brother and mother after months of uncertainty, not knowing where they were and if they were alive. By that time I had learnt to balance a pot on three stones and cook using firewood, skills I would never have learnt but for the war.
At 50 I know that when we are going through hardship the instinct to survive blinds us to our desperate predicament and we live from one day to the next without acknowledging who we really are. I was an internally displaced person (IDP) and I didn't even know it!