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Uganda – Daily Emerald University of Oregon – Issue date: 7/13/06 Section: News

July 12, 2011

Eugenean to lead 29 to Uganda for relief work

Conflict between rebels and the government plagues the nation, displacing 1.5 million

By: Edward Oser | News Reporter

Issue date: 7/13/06 Section: News

Life is cheap in Uganda. In the Oregon-sized nation in East Africa, south of Sudan and west of Kenya, the past two decades have seen conflict between the repressive government and rebels fester like a wound from a machete slash.
Eugene native Ethan Holub thinks it’s a logical locale to bring 29 young people to do relief work.

“We’re going to the place with the most need,” he said.

Holub will lead his team, ranging in age from 17 to 24 and in origin from Springfield/Eugene to Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh and Sacramento Calif., into a town in the Ugandan north especially damaged by the years of sectarian combat. For the first two weeks of the month-long trip the volunteers will serve in refugee camps, assisting some of the more than 1,500,000 displaced people in the embattled nation. There, volunteers will distribute supplies and help refugees find medical attention and pay their doctor fees. In the last two weeks the group will volunteer in three areas: Rehabilitating child soldiers, teaching refugee children and assisting in a hospital for people.

Holub described the situation as grim.

The Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in the north abduct children and indoctrinate them into their ranks as soldiers- some as young as six years of age. The rebels warp these children’s’ minds, molding them into bloodthirsty killers, unafraid of death. A recent BBC article, “LRA victim ‘I cannot forgive and forget,'” describes how during a village raid rebels kidnapped a man and over three days chopped off his ears, nose, lips and hands before releasing him to walk home along with two women “that could hardly even walk from being repeatedly raped.”

The horror of the conflict does not seem to daunt Holub.

At 28, Holub exudes enthusiasm and charisma, blending the righteousness of a teen with the confidence of an adult and the acceptance and dedication to service of an aging priest.

When he speaks he frequently mentions his dreams – his dream of living with spiritual rather than material wealth, his dream of serving God, his dream of one day organizing a commune dedicated to feeding the poor. Every morning, he said, he wakes, reads the Bible and prays.

“I’m a Christian, but I’m not into the organized religion thing, know what I mean?” he said.

He attends the Calvary Fellowship church in Eugene where he found most of the volunteers who decided to join him, but he said nine joined the trip through MySpace and he met one in a coffee shop in San Diego while there visiting friends.

Holub grew up in Eugene, and like many young people wanted to get out of his hometown when it came time to go to college. He left the emerald city, studying at six universities and one college, during which he spent a semester backpacking in Chile as part of the National Outdoor Leadership School, a Semester at Sea study-abroad program visiting 13 nations, and a month in Havana studying Spanish. In his 28 years, Holub has traveled to 43 different nations.

In his travels he has seen that many people who are vocally religious often do not live their beliefs, he said, but he has dedicated his life to following God and serving humanity in the most concrete way he can imagine.

“I grew up with everything I needed,” he said. “I could work and have a mansion with four cars, but I’d rather have a hut and 10,000 friends.”

“That’s what my life’s about,” Holub said.

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