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Last Updated: 10/19/2004If I had got married, I’d be dead today.
Better late - then never. A couple days after our official start at UPEACE (University for Peace), we noticed another colorful shirt and a new face of a tall strong man. As for many other African students the trip to UPEACE, was anything but easy. Sam’s journey included five stopovers, two countries in Africa, two in Europe and one in Venezuela before finally arriving in Costa Rica. Yes, many of us take the one-day trip and many other things for granted.
Nevertheless, Sam luckily made it.
If I had got married, I’d be dead today.
Irene Munz reports:
Better late -
then never. A couple days after our official start at UPEACE (University for
Peace), we noticed another colorful shirt and a new face of a tall strong man.
As for many other African students the trip to UPEACE, was anything but easy.
Sam’s journey included five stopovers, two countries in Africa, two in Europe
and one in
Nevertheless, Sam luckily made it.
After a couple of days I was wondering, what is Sam doing, every time I see him outside of class, he is seriously spending hours in front of a computer in the library? Where is he from, what are his email friends? Did he leave a whole family back home, as many of us did? What is he doing?
There are many reasons why I came here, says Sam. And already today, at UPEACE, I am working to what I will be doing in the future. Many reasons made me an activist and fighter for peace and human rights. There are some key experiences in my live, that have shaped me, for who I am today, and that made me come here to UPEACE.
When I was a boy, I saw for the first time a dead human body. This person didn’t die for a natural reason. He was murdered by a national security officer and was lying in a trunk of the car, parked next to my sister’s in front of a super market. The murderer, a working colleague of the driver, must have forgotten to take the dead body out of the car before handing the vehicle over to his colleague. What happened in only a couple of minutes was scary to me, and I will never forget. Of course many people got around the car, when the driver came back. But he just jumped in his car and drove of with the dead body. That is how “cheap human beings” were in my country at that time of dictatorship.
You wonder, with
who I am in contact? I will tell you. Because of the instable political
situation in my country, I had to leave two times for exile. During my second
Many of my
student friends, who I am still in contact with, were wounded – some with no
arms or legs. At that time,
And again, today, at UPEACE, I see the potential to learn from listening to my student colleagues. One should always learn to work for human rights and peace.
Back from my
exile in 1988 to
suddenly, everything changed. A conflict appeared, more violent than other
conflicts, than all weapons in the past invading my country. It is now the
social front that was able to kill my friends, my family, the activists who were
surviving the struggle and war for liberalization. HIV/Aids became the biggest
enemy in our country. 30% of the population was infected in the year of 1992.
The infection rate has been brought down to 5,6% in 2004 and Uganda became now a
world leader in the control of the pandemic and this is thanks to great efforts
by NGO’s and the government. Still, my country is dying if we are not working to
survive. Some of leftover friends and me founded an NGO, who is supporting
orphans of Aids-victims; some of them are my relatives – I lost three of my
sisters because of Aids. We are fighting for these orphans, since they are our
future, and we are making strong efforts for HIV-prevention. Since 2002, I
invite every year volunteers from the
If I would have
been married at the time, when HIV started exploding in
Irene Munz is a postgraduate student at the University for Peace. She is from Switzerland.