A former Stonyhurst pupil returned to the Lancashire Jesuit school this week to talk about his work in Uganda for the charity Jubilee Campaign. Phil Leonard, now a History student at Edinburgh University, worked undercover with award-winning television journalist Chris Rogers to expose the shocking practice of child sacrifice in Uganda, and their film was shown recently on BBC’s ‘Panorama’.
Their research found that child sacrifice is far more common than anyone realised and that, worryingly, it seems to be increasing.
“Jubilee Campaign’s research gives several reasons for the rise of this disturbing activity” said Phil: “Sacrificing children between the ages of about three and 12 is believed to bring wealth and prosperity and, with the growth of a Ugandan middle class, more people wanting to secure success for their businesses, buildings or factories are paying large sums of money to witch-doctors to do this. Other factors are police inadequacy and lack of regulation combining with widespread superstition and poor education.”
Jubilee Campaign is trying to eradicate the practice through re-education, campaigning for changes in the law in Uganda, raising awareness (partly through the All-Party Parliamentary Uganda Group), and offering practical and financial help for surviving victims and their families.
Phil explained how he came to spend his summer in this way: “I was talking to David Alton (Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool) about his human rights work and he told me about the work of Jubilee Campaign, which he launched in parliament in 1987. Everything happened very quickly from that discussion and the day after my last university exam I was on a plane to Uganda!”
Jubilee Campaign petitions at the highest levels of international government on behalf of children at risk, and for those persecuted for their beliefs or humanitarian actions worldwide. This year, the Stonyhurst pupil-led charity ‘Learning to Care’, is supporting Jubilee Campaign and other charities connected with international child welfare.