Reconciling and reintegrating former child soldiers of Kony's Lord's Resistance Army with their communities.
Nov 2018 05

Reconciliation between a survivor and a perpetrator is complex but possible with the GRG trauma counselling and reconciliation practices

Posted in News

Angela Adong was just 15 years old when she was taken by the Lord’s Resistance Army. During her time in captivity, she endured horrific treatment, including being gang raped by rebels. When Angela escaped from the LRA during a firefight four years later, she returned directly to her community, not going through any reception centre or rehabilitation/reintegration programming. As others returned home after her, she recognised two of her attackers among them. These men settled in the same community in which she was staying, causing incredible fear and discomfort for Angela. She had not received any counselling and struggled to handle this transition. Through GRG’s interventions, Angela was given trauma counselling. She now says she is more open to counselling and is willing to participate in reconciliation activities. GRG’s trauma counselling and reconciliation activities focus on bringing together perpetrators and survivors of war-related atrocities, including SGBV. Although the two men deny recognising her, Angela is excited to reconcile with those who hurt her and move on from this traumatic experience. At 37 years old, today Angela is taking part in another one of GRG’s focus areas: the animal husbandry programming. Angela has been given a goat to raise, and is very excited at the prospects this holds for her. She plans to breed her goat with the goats of other beneficiaries; the offspring from the goats can be used for further breeding or can be sold for money for school and medical fees for her five children and two dependents, farming equipment, food, and other things she and her community members need. Through GRG’s interventions, Angela has the strength to work toward reconciliation with the men who raped her, and raising the goat gives her not only a sense of productivity and purpose, but also brings the promise of a livelihood in the future. It would be easy to look at Angela as a victim. But she does not see herself that way: she is a survivor. She says that if she had not endured SGBV, she would not have been selected as a beneficiary by GRG and would not be the strong woman she is today. Angela volunteered to be interview for this article to tell other survivors about her story and to show how she was able to recover and prosper. GRG support more than 7500 people directly and indirectly across northern Uganda to recover from war trauma and rebuild their lives, through counselling, group therapy, theatre and livelihood projects. Your support is vital to keep our activities going. Please do consider to make a donation.

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