Our vision is that communities whose social and economic fabric has been torn apart by conflict and genocide can overcome the paralysis of trauma, rebuild their lives with access to education, health and the means to support themselves. We listen to what communities tell us so we can offer sustained support for their multiple needs. In doing so, we provide training in specialised trauma counselling so survivors can tackle the long-term psychological consequences that often block their communities’ recovery.
We are currently working in Rwanda and Northern Uganda. The war in Northern Uganda had a direct and brutal impact on almost every individual. Thousands were killed, millions were displaced and the LRA abducted more than 30,000 children forcing them to serve as soldiers, porters and sex slaves. The conflict’s legacy is chronic and has caused widespread, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In fact, Uganda’s refugees have the highest rates of PTSD ever recorded with women twice as likely as men to manifest symptoms. Their social networks, coping mechanisms and structures have been lost resulting in very high levels of domestic violence, gender-based violence, rape, early pregnancy, depression and alcoholism.
Together with our partner Patongo Counselling Community Outreach (PCCO), we have been working with survivors of the civil war in Northern Uganda since 2008. We trained local people to become community counsellors and they provide both group and individual counselling for anxiety, depression and PTSD. They also work at the local health centre with the only psychiatric nurse in the district to help people with more serious conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and epilepsy. Five counsellors are also based at two local HIV clinics, where they provide pre- and post-HIV testing counselling and further support for people who are HIV+.
Building on our work in Northern Uganda, in November 2017 we will start a 3-year project funded by Comic Relief. This project aims to improve mental health services for 3,466 people with mental illness and their caregivers by developing existing health structures. Through training, awareness-raising and advocacy, we will also aim to reduce stigma, increase understanding of mental illness and epilepsy, and empower sufferers so they can take control of their lives.
In Rwanda, we are piloting a project providing group and individual counselling for 250 young genocide survivors. By addressing their long-lasting mental health issues, in particular anxiety, depression and PTSD, they will be able to participate fully in and benefit from the business skills/entrepreneurship training they have received from our project partner. Pending further funding, we plan to extend this project to help an additional 750 young genocide survivors.
G12, The Foundry
17-19 Oval Way
London SE11 5RR
- Survivors’ Fund Rwanda
- Patongo Counselling Community Outreach (PCCO)