Innovative projects for refugees, former child soldiers, and host communities in northern Uganda
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Jun 2014 17

First Impressions at GRG

Posted in News

By Joel Alany

The best way to support viable solutions of recovery on the ground and develop local efforts of rehabilitation, is through local ownership. This is my first impression after 2 months with GRG and engaging with GRG’s community groups!! Commitment from the group members and GRG is important to ensure long term sustainability for the groups, “Other NGOs come take data and interviews, but never come back. GRG does and provide us with inputs’’ says group member Betty from Lamin Adera sub-county.

Overcoming losses

One of the things that got lost during times of war is indigenous cultural norms and practices. Communities in northern Uganda, so renowned for their deep-rooted and rich culture and values system are trying to restore their culture through community events. Therefore, GRG has supported groups in their initiative to organize and perform Traditional Music and Dance in their communities. Another thing that people got deprived from was all means of livelihoods. Bringing back asset is bringing back pride and to have something to smile upon “I now own sheep, which I didn’t have before. Thanks to GRG!!” says a member in Apyetta.

Building Relationships

I met with Ociti John, a former LRA combatant from Atiak who was abducted in 1993 and currently a member of GRG’s Lubanga Lakica B group, and his wife Oroma Ketty, a Langi by tribe who was abducted in 2002 at the age of 16, whom returned together willingly. “I was abducted when I had gone to collect fire wood in the bush near my home in Minakulu village.  I became Ociti`s wife in the bush by force, I didn’t love him but to spare my life I had to give in. We have produced three children, one in the bush and two when we returned home. My husband had three wives in the bush; the first wife died during child labor, the second wife is from Kitgum and when she escaped out of captivity she separated from my husband. But for me it was different. My love grew stronger for him when we returned home” says Oroma Ketty.

Asking questions during community, collaborative information sessions

An indication that people can forgive and that forgiveness is essential to healing and reconciliation. “When we forgive our past enemies, we are relived from the bad memories rather than finger pointing which traumatizes even more”.

Resilience

Situations have changed, perceptions transformed to pursue alternatives, resilience is necessary to face setbacks to provide the courage and creativity to rethink strategies and try new ways of tackling old problems. This is a moment of change from victimhood to actor and to become a resource for peace. I noticed many groups are doing things differently than before the war, now they rely more on themselves, their own ideas and their own strengths.

 

Resilience being a set of interconnected capacities to enable individuals, groups to manage, prevent or resolve, hatred, and tensions so that they do not lead to conflict, and the examples within the group are team work, unity and group leadership. ”When one has a problem the members console and advice accordingly which creates togetherness” says the group members from Atiak Sub-County. Another member adds “the group brings us together without the group we would be lonely” says Aromarac Paska. Most ex-combatants I have interacted with say that before they joined the group they were traumatized but when GRG formed groups and they joined they feel relieved and interact freely. “The group is supportive and I have now a sense of calmness which I didn’t have before”.

 

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