3.09.2010

this is why i sleep outside.

www.coburnsayyes.com

"February 23, 2010

Dear Dr. Coburn,

My name is Bethany Haley, and I am the President and Founder of eXile international. I am also a psychologist who has a practice in Nashville, Tn and who does trauma work and art therapy with the children who have been tortured by the Lords Resistance Army. Please
find the drawings of the former child soldiers and formerly abducted children. I returned from Congo and Uganda three weeks ago where I heard stories of:

NORMAN who was forced to kill his parents, chop them to pieces and eat their flesh. He is 12. He wept uncontrollably as he told me his story. His name is NORMAN and he is real.

I listened to BARBARA’s story of how she ran from the LRA rebels, but was caught after they shot her in the head. She survived. The scar on her right temple proves it. She is also 12. She did not cry when she told her story. Her heart is frozen.

I heard RICHARD’s story of how he was abducted and also forced to kill his parents and hack them to pieces with a machete. His shirt was drenched with tears when he was finished. He is 14. He is real. He is a great leader and beautiful young man.

I heard ROSE tell of the children she works with in the trauma center in Gulu, Uganda. How the rebels of the LRA forced a boy to kill his brother by biting him to death, Forcing him to tear pieces of flesh off of his brother’s body while he was alive - until he died.

I heard how the LRA forced two other brothers to slice pieces of flesh off of their sister’s face while she was alive and then rape her. She survived – but one of the brothers killed himself out of guilt.

Dr. Coburn, these are real children with real stories. These stories are not new. This has been happening for 23 years. Twenty-Three years, Dr. Coburn. It is time to stand up for what is right.

Dr. Coburn, you are putting a hold on a bill that would finally call the United States to take action against such crimes against children. Some things are not ok. Some things are bigger than technicalities and dollar bills.

This is one of them.

We ask you to stand up for what is right and just and release your hold on this bill. These children cannot come to you with their stories – but we can. We cannot release the hold on this bill to get it passed – only you have the power to do that. We ask you to use your
influence in honor of these children and in memory of those who have lost their lives.

You can read more of these stories on the blog on our website:
www.exileinternational.org.

Thank you for your time.

Best,
Dr. Bethany P. Haley, PhD, LCSW"



Some of the drawings that were attached with the letter, from the eXile children


So, if for some reason, you don't know yet- either by noticing that I look or smell like I've been living outside for a week, or by me telling you, or whatever- I have been holding out in front of Senator Tom Coburn's office since Friday Feb 26th. The hold out has now lasted 232 hours. Those of us who have been out there are standing in support of a bill that has gone before congress that requires the US to help end the 23 year long war in Northern Uganda, the longest running war in Africa, and to set up rehabilitation programs to help the recovery of Northern Uganda and set up sustainable economic opportunities. Currently the bill is blocked from passing by one person- Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who I greatly respect for his desire to keep our debt low and to maintain a responsible policy on overall spending. Let me stress that this campaign that we have been running is in no way an Anti-Coburn campaign. He held the bill originally because it increased spending by 40 million dollars. The bill has since been amended to say that the money would be pulled from ALREADY EXISTING funds for foreign aid through the state department, and thus the national debt would not be increased in any way. Let me rephrase that: whether or not this bill goes through, those funds will still be appropriated for foreign aid. No extra spending is added to the budget. That money can not go to "America's issues," because it IS set aside for foreign aid.
Though his demands have been met, he still refuses to withdraw his hold. I wont bore you with all the details, but feel free to comment and ask me about them and I will respond to you.

This letter was written to Senator Coburn by the president of eXile International. We read it every morning last week to remind us of why we are holding out in front of Senator Coburn's office and to help keep our focus on the children of Northern Uganda. The "sacrifices" we have had to make, though some are more than others, are absolutely nothing in comparison to what these children have been through for the past 23 years. The rain we are standing in today, the cold wind that has hit us every morning? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. This letter hit me really hard, and I would like you all to read it. I encourage you to check out www.coburnsayyes.com and sign the petition asking Senator Coburn to release his hold on the bill that could help end the war in Northern Uganda. If you'd like to do more, feel free to join us out in Oklahoma City at Main and Broadway- the Chase Bank building. :) We will be out there until Dr Coburn releases his hold on Senate Bill 1067.


1 comment:

Lauren Alissa Hunter said...

Thanks for sharing this Janelle