In the field of mental health support, it can be hard to measure change. I want to tell you about a day, one of the rare days, when the results were crystal clear.
I was sitting under a mango tree near the border of South Sudan listening to one of Tutapona’s staff facilitate a session of our trauma rehabilitation program. Irene did it beautifully. She knew the content well, was articulate, funny and engaging. Periodically, a mango would fall and cause a stir. An energetic young man was translating between English and the local tribal language. The session stretched into its third hour, yet my instincts told me no one was bored.
The group of people listening were Ugandans, a humble community who had lived through the horrors of the Joseph Kony war - loss of loved ones, abducted children. And fear, lots of fear. While that war ended more than a decade ago, it was evident that the emotional toll was still affecting them.
At the end, several program members wanted to talk, making comments I’d heard before but impacted me all over again. I heard them speak about forgiveness, about letting go of bitterness that had burdened them for years. Eventually, an older woman stood to speak. She said, without much emotion, that a few days earlier she had been making plans to hang herself. Her problems were ‘too much’. But she testified that participating in Tutapona’s program had given her a new perspective and her troubles no longer overwhelmed her. She also said that the message of forgiveness had an effect on her. After forgiving some people who had hurt her, she felt free.
A few years ago someone close to me committed suicide and the impact was tremendous. It was devastating for all involved. This event was actually one of the catalysts that led to my decision to leave New Zealand and join Tutapona’s mission of trauma rehabilitation for people affected by war. Needless to say, it was moving for me to hear this woman talk about her decision. Our Adjumani team will be following up and providing her with one-on-one support after the program finishes.
But for now, I’m celebrating the change in this woman’s life.
On behalf of all of our participants and staff, thank you for your generous donations, prayers and faithfulness. Your partnership makes our trauma care programs possible. Your generosity changes lives. Thank you for being a vital part of this life-giving ministry.
-Tim Manson Uganda Country Director