Home Country: Uganda
Occupation: Olive currently lives with her family in Georgia and is a mental health social worker with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services.
Life Goal: "One of the proudest moments of my life is when I was able to pick a child packet off of a table. I sponsor two Compassion children. Because Christ extended grace to us. Why then should we keep it to ourselves?
When you were 5 years old, what were you afraid of? Monsters? The dark? For most of us, those fears can be calmed easily. A flip of a light switch. The reassuring words of our parents that monsters aren’t real.
But for Olive Aneno, the dark held real fears. Real monsters.
It was the first day of school in Olive’s village in Kitgum, Uganda. She remembers watching her friends walk down the path, begging her grandfather to let her go, too.
"You’re not ready," he said simply. So all day long she worked with her grandparents in the fields, lonely, wishing she had someone to play with. The sun rose high in the sky, and as it began to lower, she ran to the edge of the village to watch for her friends to come home.
It was dark before word finally got to the village. The school had been attacked by the Lord’s Resistance Army. The older boys had been kidnapped and recruited. The younger children had been killed.
There were no survivors
That day changed Olive’s life. For the next several years, her grandmother would hand Olive and her cousins a blanket each night and tell them to go hide in the forests. The army was burning villages, so the only safe place was hiding deep in the woods.
"We had to hide alone," says Olive. "If you hid in groups, they would find you."
Alone in the dark, sometimes Olive would hear the monsters – soldiers prowling through the woods. She heard the muffled cries of her cousins. And sometimes, she heard their screams.