Karamoja is a semi-arid region in northeastern Uganda on the border of Sudan and Kenya in East Africa. It is home to the Karimojong, a people group of 1.2 million persons divided into 7 or 8 sub-tribes. The Karimojong are semi-nomadic pastoralists and fierce cattle raiders. Around the age of 15, boys are trained to become warriors and taught to shoot AK-47s, which they use to steal cattle from neighboring tribes. In Karamoja, cows are the measure of a man’s wealth and are therefore highly coveted.
Due to the violence and instability in the region caused by cattle raiding, development in Karamoja has been slow in coming. While the rest of the country enjoys spotty electricity and pot-hole prone paved roads, Karamoja has only the light of the sun and moon and dirt roads that become mud pits during the rainy season. The majority of the Karamoja countryside is as untouched as it was 200 years ago. This also means that the people of Karamoja are still devastatingly poor, even by African standards.
The climate in Karamoja is prone to drought, especially the area around Kotido where we live. Over the last few decades, the recurrent droughts have continued to lengthen (the most recent lasted 7 years) while the rainy years have become fewer and farther apart. The harsh climate leaves little resources for survival and people frequently depend on the World Food Program and other aid agencies to escape malnutrition and starvation, though many still succumb to these.
Karamoja is a harsh land, but it is full of beautiful people. The Karimojong are a proud, stoic, resilient people who have learned to survive by whatever means necessary in a very harsh environment. It is our prayer that they will learn to depend not on themselves or any aid organization, but on a Father who loves them and desires to care for them as His beloved children.