The Road To Freedom Peak is an incredibly moving television special that explores the journey of understanding and freedom for all former child soldiers. The two hour production, voiced by Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Gladiator) is made for Foxtel and premieres on Bio Wednesday, March 5 at 8.30pm.
The Road To Freedom Peak is a story about Jonathan Okwir who was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army when he was ten-years-old and trained as a child soldier. Now twenty, he has returned to his mother and his village.
Corrin Varady is an Australian philanthropist, academic and former model who has been working in Northern Uganda for several years with his charity the World Youth Education Trust (WYET). He also produced The Road To Freedom Peak.
In the documentary Jonathan and Corrin travel from the border of Uganda and Sudan to end up at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, also known as Freedom Peak. They cycle, drive, fly and climb through refugee camps, villages, towns and cities before they take on Africa's highest peak, which becomes a symbol for Jonathan's new beginning.
Together they meet and speak to hundreds of people on the way, many who were abducted by the guerrilla group and trained as child soldiers. Each of their stories is harder than the last and many of these young people wait desperately for assistance that may never come.
Often the former child soldiers are feared and shunned by their communities and feel displaced in their own homes after returning. They are haunted by the memories of the brutalities they were forced to commit and some suffer from mental illness. Their families cannot support their emotional wellbeing and they are not free to move on from their past and embrace their future.
After speaking with some of the young men who’ve returned home after being captured as children Corrin says, “These kids are totally destroyed by what happened to them. Some of them have had to kill their own parents, some of them have had to kill young children, and then to come back into a community where you then spend your entire life being called a killer – it must just be the hardest thing.”
Jonathan is hopeful about the future of the former child soldiers and his country, and recognises the need for love and acceptance for the young people affected by the war. He hopes to one day become a leader in his community and help make positive changes within post-war Uganda.
The Road To Freedom Peak is in memory of every child affected in some way by the brutalities of war. Jonathan feels he lives every day of this journey throughout East Africa for his friends who were killed in the years the war ripped through his country.