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Calvin Students Join GuluWalk
October 23, 2007

Photo of Eunice Lee, Anna Lion and Sarah Geurkink courtesy of Molly Krikke via Facebook

On Saturday, October 20, 2007, Calvin students were among 30,000 people from 100 U.S. cities and 15 countries taking part in GuluWalk to raise awareness about the 20-year civil war in Uganda.

“It’s basically a ripple effect that we’re trying to create,” said Calvin senior Anna Lion (middle student in photo to right), one of the walk organizers.

In Grand Rapids the GuluWalk commenced from Rosa Parks Circle and took a planned route around 4 ½ miles downtown, mimicing the nightly commute of the Acholi children of northern Uganda. Each evening during the long civil war, these children have left their villages and walked to city centers to escape being kidnapped and forced into military and sexual service by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Over the two decades of the war, the LRA has forced tens of thousands of Acholi youngsters to kill others, often their own family members, or to serve as the “wives” of soldiers. Although the Ugandan government achieved an uneasy ceasefire with the LRA in 2006, the situation remains perilous for the many families that were displaced or torn apart during conflict.

Those making the walk hope to keep Uganda prominent in the public eye as the peace talks go forward and also to raise money to assist in the rebuilding of the country.

The walk Web site, www.guluwalk.com, offers information about the event as well as opportunities to sponsor a walker or “icon.” The money will be distributed by GuluWalk, an international campaign of the Canadian charity Athletes for Africa to four development organizations in Uganda.

The GuluWalk event, now in its third year was an innovation of two Canadians who imitated the Acholi commute for a month while trying, as the Acholi children did, to maintain normal working and social routines.

Calvin has sponsored several events geared to raising awareness of the Ugandan situation, including the Global Night Commute in 2006, a student-planned Interim that brought two Ugandan development workers to the college in 2007 and the award-winning documentary “Drawings and War: The Testimony of the Children of Uganda,” by communication arts and sciences professor Daniel Garcia.

The recent walk went really well said Lion.

"It was a perfect day for the walk," she said. "We have been praying about the weather since it was so rainy the week before. Most of us were quite hot by the end of the walk! We had a pretty good turnout, about 40 people. We had people come from all around GR and we raised around $2,300 through sponsorships online and through sales of shirts and bracelets. This money will go to projects on the ground in northern Uganda which is fantastic. Following the walk, we wrote letters to our senators asking for continued support in the peace process currently taking place. All in all it was a great event."

Senior Sarah Geurkink (far right in picture above), another of the event’s organizers, was equally encouraged.

“Hopefully, GuluWalk will raise awareness and spark some kind of collective action,” she said. “This war has gone unnoticed for 21 years. It started when most of us in college were born. A lot of the effects of what has happened go beyond these children and their families. It seems so far away from us, but we need to do something about it.”

~written by Calvin staff writer Myrna Anderson
~image by Calvin student Molly Krikke via Facebook

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