“My name is Joseph Issa and I am 29 years old. My father died when I was three weeks old and at two I became a refugee when war broke out in South Sudan and my Mum and I fled to Uganda. I lived there until I was 14 years old when one day Joseph Kony’s LRA rebels abducted me.
They trained me how to kill and I killed many people. One day they said they could read my mind and knew I was planning to escape. They tied us all to a tree but the rain came and disrupted their plan to kill us. The following morning the government army raided our camp. I was brought back to Gulu and after counselling, reunited with my family. I had a really hard time when I got back as I was so traumatised. People knew I was in the LRA and that I had killed members of their family.
I decided to go back to South Sudan where nobody knew me and I could have a fresh start. In 2007 I married my wife. In 2013 the house I was living in was attacked and I was shot multiple times in the back. They left me bleeding for dead. I had an operation to remove the bullets and lived in hiding the next few years. Last year in July 2016 war broke out again and we came here to this refugee settlement in Uganda.
When the Tutapona program came I had a lot of issues. But the program was really touching me. Before the program came I was having nightmares and my emotions were very negative. After the program I was able to focus on the future. Knowing that other people shared in these experiences with me has brought great change in me. The session on forgiveness was the one that is helping me overcome the most.”
Since Tutapona first visited Issa’s community he has graduated from both the Empower and Follow Up programs and has been a key part of leading others in the community towards rehabilitation and reconciliation. He became involved as a volunteer with the Uganda Red Cross and LWF’s community watch program, helping to settle minor dispute cases in the community.
In September this year Issa was employed by Tutapona in the role of Translator and Facilitator to assist with the work we are doing with South Sudanese refugees.
“I felt so impressed with the program, it helped me a lot. It helped me recover from my pain and I want to help others recover too. Now I am working with my people and speaking with leaders. They are responding positively because they know I understand. Even my wife is very excited, she believes this is something that will help our family because now we have money to send our children to school so they will also have a good future!”