“This valley is called Kaitabawala,” Momma Nissi said solemnly as she stared out the window of the matatu.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
“It means ‘the place that kills girls,’” she replied. “Girls from the village would walk through this valley to get to Jinja for school or work. Some of them were never seen again. Others were raped and brutally murdered.”
I was stunned to learn that the beautiful valley I traveled through weekly had such a history. But, Uganda is very familiar with violence, destruction and loss.
As soon as I stepped onto the red clay soil, I was given a crash course of Uganda’s political history. After tribal warring came a string of rulers that forced themselves into the presidency when Britain relinquished control of Uganda. In the 1990’s a new terror unleashed itself in Uganda by the name of Joseph Kony.
This witch doctor convinced some people that he was sent by God to start the Lord’s Resistance Army. They pillaged villages and “recruited” children for the army. For the recruitment process, soldiers gave children machetes and forced them to kill their parents or be killed.
I’d advise you to read, “First Kill Your Family” by Peter Eichstaedt for a journalistic review of the conflict.
A lot of rehabilitation has happened for those exposed to these terrors. It’s been 10 years since Kony has been in Uganda but the healing for the child soldiers and people who survived this trauma is still ongoing.
I would advise anyone who wants to learn about the rehabilitation to read, “The Color of Grace” by Bethany Haley Williams.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to be trained in trauma healing with the American Bible Institute. This is the beginning of a vision I’ve had to counsel and start a social entreprenuerial organization that focuses on healing from traumas like suicide, anxiety, depression, death, loss, and more.
For three days, I joined 40 incredible people from around the world that wanted to do something about the traumas they have seen and/or faced. I met a woman who runs an orphanage in South Sudan with her husband, a woman who’s story is almost identical to mine, and a Ugandan friend who wants to start addressing the traumas that women in the culture don’t talk about because it is just “life.”
Trauma is a wound of the heart that results from intense fear, helplessness or horror. It’s usually unexpected, personal, and/or something that people have done intentionally to cause pain. The problem with trauma is that it creates heart wounds that need to be addressed or they will only get worse, just like a physical wound.
During my training I learned how to identify trauma, how to facilitate a healing group (a process of healing that is biblically and holistically based) and how to walk alongside someone recovering from trauma.
The best part about the healing process is the journey, the hope and the resiliency found in dealing with your hurts and grief. The Bible is full of examples of this: Hannah, David, and Jesus; just to name a few.
I’m beyond excited to start leading healing groups, if you know of a need for a healing group in your area, send me a message or email me. Even while I’m in Uganda, it’s never too early to start planning for my return stateside. I’d love to organize and facilitate a healing group for your bible study, church or community.
We can’t stop the injustice and hurts that people inflict on us. And, let’s face it, this world continues to scare us with the evil we see. But God has given us the keys to heal and become new, His Word and people with a heart to counsel.
The children impacted by the Lord’s Resistance Army will never be the same. The girls raped at Kaitabawala will never be the same. I will never be the same. But, we wear many different hats in life and the hat I’ve put on today fits just right.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17