Uganda Country Director Brendah Aryatugumya has been hard at work throughout March, April, and May. She has been working closely with the Ibanda Municipality school district to ensure that every school in the district has at least one teacher and one head teacher trained in Healing Advocacy! By having two Advocates at every school, Ibanda Municipality becomes one of the first fully trauma-informed school districts in all of Uganda. The town mayor of Ibanda attended the workshop as well, and left the training committed to advocating for mental health to be included as a vital part of school curriculum.
The teachers were joyous and thankful for the trainings, asking to be invited back to future trainings and sharing about their experience with their colleagues. After the trainings, three teachers messaged Brendah and shared the following:
"Before I came to this workshop I didn't know I never loved myself. From today on I will always be a priority."
"I have always punished children reactively without know that my anger is affecting innocent lives."
"I have to confess that this workshop has healed my long time unattended wounds. Thank you Healing Together Uganda!"
Thanks to your support, we're able to not only train individuals but positively impact entire school districts! Thousands of children will benefit from the Ibanda Municipality school district being dedicated to trauma-informed care and Healing Advocacy. Thank you so much for contributing to this important work!
Uganda Country Director Brendah Aryatugumya continues to train Healing Advocates at a breathtaking pace, training over 120 teachers in December and over 140 teachers in the first two weeks of January. Increasing numbers of schools and local health organizations have been reaching out to Brendah to schedule trainings as word spreads within southwest Uganda. There has been so much demand that the training facility in Mbarara is booked out for months!
Participants regularly share glowing accounts of their experiences becoming Healing Advocates on social media and messaging apps. One recent participant shared, "I appreciate Healing Together Uganda...I now know how to manage stress, anger, and trauma...I am so humbled". Another shared, "This training is the best I've experienced in my life, thank you".
Thank you for your support and continued engagement with our work in Uganda! Without you, none of this would be possible. Until next time!
Uganda has a long history of trying to end corporal punishment against children at home and in schools. In 1997, Uganda passed the Children Act banning corporal punishment, but the problem persisted almost unchanged due to widespread beliefs in its benefits to children.
In 2016, the act was expanded, yet over 90% of grade school children report having experienced corporal punishment in school. We know that corporal punishment causes trauma to children, and is used most by teachers who have experienced trauma themselves.
This cycle of harm is being changed by the Healing Advocacy workshops that Brendah is facilitating in Uganda. In August alone, Brendah trained over 165 teachers in trauma-informed healing, and many report that one of the biggest changes they experience is a different perspective on corporal punishment—learning that it causes more harm to already traumatized students and committing to ending this form of abuse in their schools.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support this life-changing work! Your advocacy is helping to break generational cycles of trauma and violence in tangible ways.
These past few months have been incredibly busy and productive for the Healing Together Uganda Country Manager, Brendah Aryatugumya. In Uganda, most public schools have been closed since the start of the pandemic, and have only reopened towards the end of 2021. During the course of the 2-year school close, both teachers and students alike experienced significant trauma as rates of interpersonal, childhood, and gender violence soared while folks were at home, out of work, and living in extreme poverty and with no system or resources for mental health care, especially in rural communities. As teachers and students return to school, there has been a strong demand for additional training to respond to the accumulated trauma over the past few years.
In response, Brendah has been traveling almost non-stop to deliver healing advocacy trainings to schools across the region. Recently, public schools were on a 3-week break, and Brendah took the opportunity to train over 175 teachers in trauma-informed care. These teachers are responsible for over 10,000 students. Over the past months of trainings, teachers have experienced profound emotional healing, while also learning tools to support their students. Here are some of their powerful testimonials:
"I realized I have always transferred my trauma to my wife by beating her, scolding her. This training has helped me to control my anger. [Now], I will always calm myself down through resourcing."
"This has taught me how to love and take care of my self so i can be able to make a positive impact on others lives.”
"From this training I learned that [although] I have been beating my students to make them disciplined, instead I have been hurting them more. I will be a different teacher when I return to school.”
"Please send our gratitude to Healing Together...for coming out to give us skills on how we can manage our everyday stresses and traumas. We really appreciate this from our hearts." Another teacher shared that, "through this three-day workshop I have been able to heal. I am so healed, so new, so fresh. Thank you for this powerful experience."
Through your support, we are creating learning and healing opportunities for some of the most impactful people in the region, teachers and educators. When multiple teachers from the same school receive this training, it positively changes the school culture and creates an atmosphere of healing and respect. Thank you again for all that you do to support this work!
We're so excited to welcome our new Country Manager in Uganda, Brendah Aryatugumya! Brendah is in the process of opening the newest Healing Together office, located in Mbarara, in Western Uganda. Brendah comes to Healing Together having worked for 6 years as a social worker, most recently as the Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Coordinator with our partner NYAKA, and is a former participant of several of our trauma-informed care trainings in Uganda.
Brendah grew up in a rural part of southwestern Uganda where poverty was high and there was significant loss due to HIV/AIDS. As a survivor of trauma and gender-based violence herself, Brendah developed a passion for helping others heal: “Throughout my life I endured a lot of trauma. Before joining university, I was asked what I wanted to do and I told my cousin sister that I wanted to serve people, to work with people, to help and support people and to be a voice to the voiceless. Healing Together has given me all that I need to support others to become healing champions in their own lives and in the lives of others. I have come to learn that trauma is here and all we need are skills to heal from our everyday traumas so we can keep moving, keep thriving and keep healthy.”
In her short time as Country Manager, Brendah has already facilitated 2 trainings. The first, in collaboration with Mutera Global Healing, took place in Kigali, Rwanda, and supported the staff of two local organizations in learning about trauma informed care. These organizations, Resonate and Komera, work with women and girls who have been impacted by gender-based violence. Through learning about trauma-informed care, the staff will be more able to take care of both community members and themselves.
The second training took place over several days in Uganda. The training included 45 participants, many of whom were teachers who have been out of work due to the pandemic. These teachers typically provide community education in remote villages through drama and theater, as literacy rates are low. Now that schools have begun to open after two years in Uganda, the teachers are focusing on learning additional skills for supporting their students. Brendah shared that unlike many trainings she's attended in the past, where participants often fell asleep, this training was lively and engaged. One of the participants shared, "It is from this training that I learned that I have been beating my children to make them become disciplined, but instead I have been hurting them more." Teachers who are trauma-informed are more likely to be able to support their students in both learning and healing.
Stay tuned for more, as Brendah is about to lead a training for 70 teachers from 70 schools in the Mbarara region!
Thanks to your contributions, trauma-informed mental health support is accessible to communities that are deeply impacted by violence and inequity. Your support is making a difference for generations to come.
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