Rebel leader Joseph Kony hand-picked the young girls he and his coterie of trusted soldiers called their “wives”.
Polline was a 14-year-old schoolgirl who dreamed of becoming a reporter when two young men approached her in her village one Friday morning as she hung out her washing in 2002. Her mother was not at home when they questioned her about being married, but her instincts told her to lie so she told them her husband was at the market. She looked young, they didn’t buy her story, and instead brought out the guns concealed under their shirts, beat her, then marched her into the bush to join a large group of rebels and other abducted children.
“Most girls are given to men to serve as housewives, cooking and cleaning, and most are not allowed to fight. Their work is to carry heavy luggage” says Polline.
Polline was a hard worker, focused and clever. These qualities brought her to the attention of Joseph Kony and his commanders and would later save her life, but not before surviving seven long years of war. “The worst part was when were in Soroti (north-eastern Uganda) and many people were killed. My best friend was shot in front of me and it was so painful. The hardest thing was seeing innocent people killed for no reason. If you fail to walk long distances you are killed for no reason.”
For four years her life was a series of long treks through the bush, fighting government forces, enduring attacks, abducting more children and being subjected to sexual violence on a daily basis. “We were always moving, from six in the morning to six at night, mothers with children on their backs, carrying heavy luggage, just like the slave trade.”