By James Addis, Senior Editor
An enquiry from a reader who read “Harrowing Story, Inspiring Play” in the Summer issue prompted me to get in touch with my good friend, Soenke Weiss.
The story is about Soenke’s play, “Butterflies of Uganda,” which is loosely based on the life of Christine Akello—a former child soldier in Uganda whom Soenke met while he working for World Vision. Soenke is now based in Paris and no longer with the organization.
Soenke wrote back with some great news. For the last few years he’s been trying to get money to turn “Butterflies of Uganda” into a film and bring the plight of child soldiers to an even wider audience—and he’s has pulled it off. He’s managed to get support from the European Film Fund, plus investors in Germany and the U.S. He’s also found a worldwide distributor. What’s more, he says he’s got a “high-profile African-American A-list actor on board,” though for contractual reasons he can’t say who that is right now.
But Soenke’s real delight comes from the fact that most of the cast and crew will be Ugandans—bringing cash and employment to the local economy. Shooting begins in Uganda in July, and Soenke will direct the film himself. If everything goes to plan, the film will be in cinemas in the summer or fall of 2011.
Like thousands of other Ugandan children, Christine Akello was captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to participate in an LRA terror campaign—looting villages, killing and maiming residents, and abducting more children. The nice part of her story is that she managed to escape and was eventually reunited with her family.
Thinking of Christine prompted me to check out the current status of the LRA and its demented leader, Joseph Kony. The LRA has been chased out of northern Uganda and is currently hiding in the Central African Republic. It periodically launches brutal killing campaigns in remote parts of neighboring Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Meanwhile, World Vision is helping thousands who fled the LRA in northern Uganda to resettle back in their villages by reestablishing water and sanitation facilities. Many of the returnees have been forced to live in displaced camps for years. We’ll have a brief report on this in the Autumn issue of World Vision magazine.