The Saturday Times' front page this morning showed the face of 11 year-old Jaycee Lee Dugard, found after being abducted as a girl in 1991. She gave birth to two children fathered by her kidnapper. The paper devoted three inside pages to the story.
Last week I met, along with the rest of the team in Uganda, a number of women in Watoto's Living Hope programme. One woman, let's call her Mary, was the same age as one of my close friends. My friend spent quite some time with Mary, they really hit it off together: laughing and joking, hugging and sharing. When my friend was enjoying the first years of secondary school, aged 12, Mary was pregnant with her first child, fathered by a commander in the Lord's Resistance Army. Mary had been abducted, forced to be a soldier and given to this man as his 'wife'. Mary has two more children. Released as the LRA retreated from Uganda, Mary has no family to welcome her home. The men who kidnapped her and the man who made her pregnant will never face justice in this world. Mary is one of countless women in this situation.
I am glad that Jaycee has been set free and I hope and pray that she is able to recover from this traumatic experience. But my heart is sad for all those whom the world will never hear of. I now know about Mary, and the other women in Living Hope, but the war in Uganda lasted for 20 years, all my adult life, and for most of that time I was completely unaware. The LRA are still active in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan, and, of course, wars and atrocities are happening across the world right now, today, of which I am equally unaware.
I am not sure what to do with this because a guilt trip helps no-one. But I do know that it is something I must reflect on and take action about: perhaps by sponsoring a vulnerable woman or child cared for by Watoto; perhaps editing my BBC homepage to display the African news stories alongside the UK headlines; perhaps signing up to a relevant newletter or following an informed blog. While I know that none of these actions will dramatically change the face of the earth, perhaps they will go some way to changing the face of one person from despair to hope.