Learning how to heal

Learning how to heal

Publication info

Massa Kenneth and Charles Lilley, CARE Uganda

Dudu Grace Edward is a 45-year-old single mother from South Sudan. She had to flee her home and is now living in a refugee settlement in Uganda. In total, more than 1 million people have fled to Uganda from South Sudan. Eighty-five percent of them are women and children. In July 2017 the other camp residents selected Grace as a Gender Based Violence (GBV) Preventer. GBV Preventers like Grace help engage the community, raise awareness of the issue, and show how everyone can work together to support those exposed to violence, especially women and girls. Grace is one of 80 GBV preventers that were selected, trained and supported by CARE.

The first step for Grace, and other GBV Preventers is training. Grace became well versed in GBV concepts, basic counseling, raising awareness and mobilizing the community. Her CARE training has opened the door for her to be a positive role model for her community and to make an impact by identifying and helping those who suffer from GBV. “I am really very happy to be working with CARE. They trained us well. I had had some training from other agencies, but when I attended CARE’s training I understood GBV better,” Grace says. “Every time we need support, the CARE team responds immediately. When I put on the T-shirt, the community easily identifies me with CARE and I feel happy. I really want to be a good role model.” 

Annet* had a traumatizing trip to Uganda. She traveled with 20 people, including her two children, and the two orphaned children of her sister. They were stopped by armed men many times. One of those times she was taken into the bush and raped. The people traveling with her did whatever they could to make sure she would be released. Together with the four children in her care she continued her flight.  

After arriving in Uganda, Annet had a difficult time settling into her new environment. While some neighbors did their best to help her, she was sick and traumatized from her journey. Her daughter was also very sick. She started thinking about suicide or going back to her home in South Sudan. 

Annet’s healing began when she met Grace. “Grace asked me how I was doing, and I started crying. I told her there was no future for my children here, and we are always hungry. My daughter had been sick. I told Grace I might go back,” Annet says. Grace told her that she should first consider that her family is safer than back home in South Sudan, that in Uganda her children can go to school and she can feed them. “Grace told me to be strong. She was very supportive and encouraged me to stay for the sake of my children.” Grace knows what it feels like to be a refugee – she’s been through similar experiences.  

Grace made sure that Annet began receiving assistance. She joined a workshop on trauma healing. “It took me about a month until I got better. Soon I adapted to my new community and feel so much more comfortable now,” Annet says.   

Today Annet participates in a women’s group making bricks for a women’s center they are planning to build nearby. She also cuts grass to sell in bundles to use on the thatched roofs of shelters. She is supporting other refugees now as a member of her Village Health Team.  

“I will return to South Sudan if there is peace, but I am comfortable here now because of CARE and my friend Grace.”  

*Name has been changed 

Dudu Grace Edward is a 45-year-old single mother from South Sudan. She had to flee her home and is now living in a refugee camp in Uganda. In July 2017 the other camp residents selected her as a “Gender Based Violence (GBV) Preventer.” Photo credit: Kenneth Massa/CARE Uganda