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An In-person Report on the Adventist School Shooting in Uganda

Many of you may of heard of the shooting that went on at the Bugema Seventh-day Adventist Senior Secondary School in Luweero about three weeks ago. I first read about this on Spectrum’s web site, about a week before arriving here in Uganda.

Tonight we visited with Miriam. She was a victim of the shooting. Walking into the room we were greeted by Miriam, her mother, and a friend. She was sitting up on the edge of the bed and just finishing up a bath. We talked about the hospital food for a while, and I made my typical stupid faces at her to see if she would laugh. She did. I asked if she would share her story. Being a quiet girl I didn’t think she would say that much. Boy, was I wrong.

Softly-spoken, she told me how the students had been upset about the food on campus, and to add to the problem, the administration had canceled their Friday night music program. The students started to strike, or as we would call it, riot. After a while the riots were controlled and everyone was sent back to their dorm. That Sunday the accused leaders of the riot where called into a room where there were about fifteen police officers. The school headmaster came into the room and told them they were to be punished for breaking Ugandan law. The students began to panic and gunfire started. Most of the shooting took place at the ceiling but some of the police fired at the kids.

Miriam was lying on the floor when a bullet hit her pelvic region, breaking three vertebrae and barley missing her spine. At least two other students were also hit. No one has died. She was first taken to a college and then taken to the hospital. The injuries paralyzed her in the left leg. The leg has been healing and has started to work again, but it is still paralyzed from the ankle down.

As we chatted I kept watching her feet. Her friend had put her flip flops back on her foot after the bath. Miriam was tapping her right foot as we talked, but the left one just hung lifeless. As we were about to leave she used her right foot to take the left flip flop off. It does not sound like a big event, but to realize that she can’t move her foot at all because of a stupid incident makes this a big deal to everyone involved. This could have been prevented.

Police have arrested the leading police officers for allowing this incident to happen. Miriam has been moved to a VIP room in the hospital and her medical bill is being picked up by the police. For me this visit put it all into perspective, that the news you see on TV or read about on the web is more than just images and words. It is real.

PS. ANN reports that the school has been temporarily closed and church leaders are investigating.

PPS. On July 28, Uganda’s New Vision website included a report on Miriam. Apparently Miriam Adyero, a Senior Three student, is sixteen years old.

PPPS. Some of the 300 plus alumni on the school’s Facebook page have weighed in, expressing sadness and blaming the increasing fees and the administration’s use of corporal punishment.


Timothy Wolfer is a senior at Pacific Union College. A Film and TV major, he is on assignment in Uganda and the Sudan this summer for Adventist Mission.

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