Supporting South Sudanese refugees in Uganda

Project picThe civil war in South Sudan started in December 2013 after a fallout between President Salva Kiir and Vice-President Riek Machar, which caused Machar to resign and lead rebel forces against Mr Kiir’s government. In September 2018, a peace deal was signed, but tensions are still high and there is a long way to go before finding a peace that allows healing and future development.

According to the United Nations, there are currently more than 2.2 million South Sudanese refugees, and more than 800,000 of them are living in Uganda. Most of these refugees live in camps in the north of Uganda, close to the South Sudan border. The director of INcontext’s East Africa office visited some of these camps during March 2017 to see for himself what the situation is like. During this visit, he asked a pastor about the challenges they are facing. He responded as follows: “The first challenge we face here as pastors is not knowing how to counsel the traumatised people while we are also traumatised, so we need special training as leaders on counselling.

Project pic 7In response to this request, INcontext launched Project Restoration to provide trauma counselling and trauma counselling training to South Sudanese refugees. Over 30 pastors from three refugee camps were invited to attend a 5-day training course at a centralised point close to the refugee camps from 7-11 August 2017. First, they received counselling for their own trauma, and thereafter, they were trained to do trauma counselling with their congregation members.

From 27 August to 7 September 2018, a second round of training was done with 10 of the original 30 pastors that were trained in 2017. This second training session was done to better equip the pastors as trauma counsellors. In addition to this, 23 children’s workers were also trained, and the 10 pastors helped facilitate the training.

Project pic 6The training was a huge success and we are grateful to everyone who contributed towards it. In August and September 2019, there will be a third follow-up session where the 10 pastors will get the final training needed to become accredited trauma counselling trainers that will enable them to train other people to do trauma counselling as well.

In January 2019, an INcontext team visited the refugee camps to meet the pastors who have been receiving the training and to assess the continuation thereof, while also looking at additional ways of supporting the refugees. This visit led to the expansion of Project Restoration in the following ways:

1. Installing water tanks to collect rain water in the rainy season.

Water is scarce in the area and water points sometimes run dry. We are assisting churches to provide water for their congregations and surrounding communities by installing corrugated iron roofs on church buildings with gutters and water tanks so that the churches can be a provider of fresh water.

2. Financially contributing towards the food for an orphanage on a monthly basis.

The orphanage is run by a South Sudanese refugee who has been attending the trauma counselling training sessions since 2017. The orphanage currently accommodates 51 children.

3. Further expanding the trauma counselling training.

Due to the positive feedback from the pastors that attended the trauma counselling and trauma counselling training, we will continue implementing this in the camps.

Should you have any further questions regarding this project, please contact INcontext‘s Project Department, Damon Kotze.