In our efforts to support humanitarian workers remain psychologically healthy and providing quality services, we recently concluded a 10 weeks training of 10 Humanitarian workers in Katakwi district of Eastern Uganda on self care and basic techniques for supporting individuals with mental health challenges. The 10 weeks training is based on the fact that ''WE ARE ALL WOUNDED HEALERS'' and ''WE CANNNOT GIVE WHAT WE DON'T HAVE''. Majority of NGO staffs have themselves gone through severe traumatic experiences and these experiences shape how they intterect with and support beneficiaries. Its determines their attitude and pervceptions of the people they work with. Equipping them with skills to manage their own day to day stress was very paramount and we witness great healing and restoration in the lives of the 10 staffs who attended the training with many testifying that they were individually struggling with anger, bitterness, resentment, self guilt and anxiety issues. Infact one of the female staff working with RedCross Katakwi said ''I had very negative mind towards men because of the domestic abuse I have gone through in my own marriage and this has affected the way i work wuth men to the extent that I was always unhelpful to men who come to me sharing their problems as I was already biased''. The staffs also learnt basic principles for working with abused adults and children especially in providing psychosocial support.
The launch of our Mental Health Support program for primary school children of Amorwongora Primary school in Katakwi district has seen an increased number of children become active in class, their grades are improving and class attendance is regular now than before. A few who had resorted to drug abuse in school have since trasnformed and are now well disciplined children.
The Headteacher of Amorwongora Primary School in a remote village of Katakwi district approached us with a cry of increased number of children in her school who are in-disciplined, enage in drug abuse even while at school and generally living reckless lives accroding to her. Our volunteer Counselor with the technical guidance of the Executive Director (Mr. David Elungat), initiated a pyscho-educational and rehabilitation program that targeted boys and girls differently. The school has allowed the staff to meet the small groups of children once a week for one hour where different apects of adolescence are shared. Through interractions with these children, safe space and mutual trust has been built where the boys and girls are able to share their idnividual challenges and the team is walking with each child/student individually through a process of healing and rehabilitation.
Through your generosity, we are able to expand our mental health program to schools, bringing hope, healing and restoration to traumatised children who often have no one to trust and share their pain and struggles.
Vicky is a outh sudanese refugee woman living at Boroli settlement of Adjumani. Being a survivor of gender based violence, Vicky says it has not been easy to deal with the negative memories of the rape she experienced in south sudan. In her own words, ''I used to have nigh mares, sometimes live visions of the rape like it was happening again now to me. I hated myself and anything called a male being. I was robbed of my privacy and I feel worthless after the rape''.
Vicky is one of the 10 women we have been walkibng through Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness program integrated with Psycho-education over the last two months. Before the program, vicy says she used to have sleep problems and fear for bushy places. ''Sometimes when am eating, I feel food doesnt have any taste', said vicky.
The group sessions coupled with individual psychological support provided to Vicky has not only enabled her to gain enjoy some sleep but the connection with other women who have passed through similar experience has given her encouragement that she is not alone. The group of 10 recently agreed to form a saving group and meet regularly to encourage each other. Vicky says she has found a family and people who value her as a human being. ''Though I am not 100% healed from the ex[erience I went through, am sure one day I will be fully well and enjoying my life'', Says Vicky.
Adjumani refugee settlement currently has over 230,000 refugees, 60% of these are women and girls with a majority having psychological challenges. Your generosity restores hope and helps these women realise their self worth and value. Thank you for making this possible.
VFH Uganda has been conducting group based Trauma Sensitive Mindfulness program to address the mental health challenges of refugee women and girls at Adjumani. Due to the current COVID-19 related restrictions, the team has adapted the project activities and resorted to radio based counseling program on Radio Salama which is run by the Office of the Prime Minsiter-Department of Refugees in Adjumani. We are deligted report that in our first one hour session, there was lots of calls from the community on how helpful the counselling program was. Many of the callers, majority being women shared how the COVID-19 lockdown had caused further stress to them due to the overwhelming demands to provide for their chidlren. We are garteful for you continued support to that is helping us buy one hour airtime on the radio to continue providing mental health education to refugee and host communities in Adjumani.
Mary was among the 25 women who participated in a 8 weeks Trauma Sensitive Program and was supported with Micro-Loan to start up a business at Boroli Refugee settlement of Adjumani. Being a woman with disability and having experienced sexual and gender based violence back in South Sudan; Mary had lost all hope and developed deeper hatred and bitterness. Mary had been living in Isolation and had given up hopes of doing anything for her life and the two grandchildren in her care left behind by only son who was killed together with his wife during the war. In Mary’s own words, she said “This program has helped me develop a sense of compassion and love for those around me. My brain now works better and am able to plan for my life and how to sustain these children I have been left with that’s why I appreciate the support of the Micro-Loan that is going to boost my business and enable me become self-reliant”.
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