On 18 March 2000 around 500 people, many of them young, perished in a fire that swept through a community church in a remote South Western corner of Uganda. The victims of what was believed to be a deliberate torching of the building, were all members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments. Many shocked and grieving relatives were left behind in the local area.
The Provincial Youth and Students Department of the Church of Uganda was quick to respond to the disaster, with the Secretary and his wife travelling to Kanungu, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the tragedy had taken place.
"We work so hard to comfort these people," said the Rt Revd John Wilson Ntegyereize, Bishop of the Diocese of Kinkizi, who helped to lead the pastoral response to the disaster in Kanungu.
"I guess we were disturbed by the large number of young people who were incinerated," Hans Ouweneel, the Provincial Youth Secretary, said, when asked why the Youth Department was among the first groups to arrive in Kanungu. "But our visit to Kinkizi is not of mere human concern, it is for the proclamation of God's love for the people of Kanungu."
The Youth Secretary visited the Anglican school in the town and met with teachers and students. In a fifteen-minute talk he addressed the theme of hope, urging the young people to be faithful to their church even in difficult situations. He re-iterated the words of Archbishop Robin Eames that "hope must not be allowed to die."
The Secretary and his wife finally visited the scene of the massacre, and placed a wreath on the mass grave in honour of all the young people who had died in the fire.
Item from: Tray