Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,
Volume 147, Issue 69
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker
Visitor in the Gallery
The Hon. the Speaker: Honourable senators, I wish to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Evaline Apoko, a heroine who has survived tragic circumstances in her native country. She is the guest of the Honourable Senator Jaffer.
On behalf of all senators, I welcome you to the Senate of Canada.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.
Ms. Evaline Apoko
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, yesterday evening, Senator Kochhar, Senator Eggleton, the Honourable Yasmin Ratansi, the Honourable Keith Martin and I welcomed a very special young woman to Parliament Hill.
Evaline Apoko is 19 years old and is from northern Uganda. This young woman who is joining us here today personifies strength, courage and heroism.
Growing up in a time of political instability and conflict, Evaline is no stranger to tragedy. From a very young age, Evaline and her family were overwhelmed with fear, and they often moved around in hope of escaping the Lord’s Resistance Army. One night, when she was nine years old, Evaline and her family sought refuge in what they thought was a safe house. Unfortunately, they were mistaken. They had walked into a house occupied by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Evaline, who often had nightmares about being abducted, was taken captive by the Lord’s Resistance Army and was subjected to an incredibly unfortunate fate. After being separated from her family and loved ones, Evaline walked vast distances with the Lord’s Resistance Army forces, who abused her both physically and emotionally, and who often deprived her of basic nourishment.
Almost a year after her abduction, when Evaline was 10 years old, tragedy struck again. While walking with the rebel forces, she was caught in an air raid. She managed to dodge several bullets, until a bomb exploded near her, blowing away part of her face.
Evaline did not receive medical attention. Instead, she was left to suffer alone as the rebel forces left her for dead. After enduring such a traumatic experience, Evaline no longer feared death because she felt it would be a less painful alternative to living a life full of pain and suffering.
However, Evaline knew she was special and she knew she had to speak out; she had an important message to share with the world. At the tender age of 13, after being emotionally scarred and physically disfigured, Evaline mustered up enough courage and successfully escaped from the Lord’s Resistance Army.
She returned home to Uganda, where she received the medical attention she desperately needed, and underwent three surgeries. She was then taken to the United States, where she had four additional surgeries. Evaline has another year of reconstructive surgeries ahead of her. She wakes up every night with severe headaches.
Honourable senators, although Evaline has a past full of tragedy and heartache, her future is one that is inspiring and full of promise. She has courageously decided to complete her high school education and hopes to be a spokesperson for young children who have been abducted. She is the voice for the thousands of children who have not lived to tell their stories.
Honourable senators, Evaline Apoko’s life has been full of heartache and tragedy. Throughout most of her childhood, she has suffered in solitude. I urge honourable senators to learn more about the thousands of children like Evaline who live in conflict-ridden areas.
Hon. Senators: Hear, hear!