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Thursday, May 28, 2020

In honor of WCADP’s 16th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty project on October 10th, the USA based Journey of Hope traveled to Uganda October 4-11 for an abolitionist speaking tour.

A highlight of that venture was when Pelke met a beautiful little girl he has been sponsoring at the school for three years for the first time

Dream School and Nursery in Kesenge, Uganda

Ugandan Vice President Edward Sskandi with Journey members

Patrick Njala addresses the crowd at the World Day events

Time to say goodbye. Peace on Earth

Friday, December 07, 2018 Age: 1 Years

The Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing is led by murder victim family members who are opposed to the death penalty.  The Journey of Hope is a member of the steering committee of the World Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and their President, Bill Pelke, was a founding member of the WCADP in 2002.

In honor of WCADP’s 16th annual World Day Against the Death Penalty project on October 10th, the USA based Journey of Hope traveled to Uganda October 4-11 for an abolitionist speaking tour.

A Journey team of 7 joined with abolitionists from Uganda.  The Journey, led by Pelke, included fellow Journey of Hope Cofounders SueZann Bosler and George White, both murder victim family members.  Rev. Jack Sullivan Jr. is also a JOH board member and a murder victim family member.  Shujaa Graham, a former Journey of Hope board member and murder victim family member is also a death row exoneree.  Evangelist Martin Ndola of Nairobi, Kenya joined us along with Bob Gross who is the Executive Director of the Journey.  Everyone on the Journey team is a volunteer.

The Journey went to Uganda with a pure simple message The Answer is Love and Compassion for all of Humanity.    We are convinced without a doubt that this is not only the solution to ending the death penalty but also for other social issues in the world today.

You cannot have love and compassion for all of humanity and want to see anybody put into the death chamber and their life taken from them.  It is impossible!

In January, Ugandan’s President Yoweri, who imposed a moratorium on the death penalty in 1999 because of his “Christian background” stated that he believed he had made a mistake and would now “hang a few” instead.    

The Journey first went to Uganda in 2011 to help Ugandan death row exoneree Edward Mpagi when he requested the Journey’s help in his lonely battle for abolition in Uganda.  The Journey returned to Uganda in 2014 to help Edward and others to launch Ugandans Against the Death Penalty. 

Because of our strong investment in Uganda’s abolition movement and because of our mantra of Love and Compassion we hoped our message would get to President Yoweri.  We felt if we could touch his heart it could lead to total abolition of the Death Penalty in Uganda.

We were able to meet with Vice President Edward Sskandi, the second highest official in the Ugandan government.  As we sat around an oblong table for about 30 minutes he listened intently as Pelke talked about the Death Penalty, Love and Compassion for all of humanity, forgiveness, mercy and also about mistakes that human beings make and how innocent people get sentenced to death.

He pledged to make sure the President received our message of love and compassion.  Each of
our Journey team wore Uganda 2018 Journey of Hope T-shirts that had “THE ANSWER IS LOVE AND COMPASSION FOR ALL OF HUMANITY” on the back.

The Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, also a member of the WCADP Steering Committee, hosted a spectacular World Day Against the Death Penalty conference on Oct 10th on the grounds of the Human Rights House in Nsambya.  FHRI Executive Director Dr. Sewanyana Livingston welcome the crowd and introduced H.E. Pacifici, Head of Delegation of the European Union to Uganda.  The EU delegate from the Netherlands was also among various dignitaries present. 

Pelke gave the keynote address and Shujaa Graham addressed conditions on California’s death row during his time as a condemned man.  Living conditions on death row was the theme of this year’s World Day events.

During the conference we were able to meet with several groups, including Patrick Njala and other leaders of Caritas Uganda.  Caritas is a faith based non-profit organization under the Sanctifying Commission of the Uganda Episcopal Conference.  We also met and shared with Sant Egidio Uganda.  Sant Egidio is a lay Catholic organization that is headquartered in Rome. Wells of Hope made a powerful presentation.  Wells of Hope is a group of children whose parents are incarcerated. We were also able to meet with other organizations that were present.  It was a great day for the abolition community.

While in Uganda we met with members of the Uganda Law Reform Commission and advocated for abolition of the death penalty and replacing it with alternative forms of punishment.  We talked about how this would end the cycle of violence that capital punishment perpetuates in society.  Journey members shared their stories of the process of healing through reconciliation. 

We were invited to visit the Parliament where we met and spoke with several Parliamentarians about our mission.  We also spoke in elementary schools, high schools, and a college.   Pelke was able to speak about love and compassion to several thousand worshipers at two Catholic masses.    We did radio, TV and media interviews. 

During our free time we visited the family of a man who was also exonerated off of death row and we visited a young mother whose father and daughter were murdered in her presence on January first of this year.  She really bonded with SueZann Bosler who also witnessed her own father’s murder and who fortunately survived after being left for dead.

We also visited the Dream Primary school and Nursery that was founded by Edward Mpagi after his release from Death row.  We refer to Mpagi as the “Nelson Mandela of Uganda” It is miraculous that he is able to help these hundreds of children and give them a better life.

Thanks to all the people in Uganda who worked so hard to make this a successful venture.  Thanks to the World Coalition and all the friends and supporters who made this Journey possible.

Journey of Hope…from Violence to Healing

PO Box 210390
Anchorage, Alaska  995010390

< A letter from Bill Pelke