Angela Adong was just 15 years old when she was kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. 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 recognized 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 counseling and struggled to handle this transition.
Through GRG’s interventions, Angela was given trauma counseling. She now says she is more open to counseling and is willing to participate in reconciliation activities. One part of GRG’s trauma counseling and reconciliation projects focus on bringing together perpetrators and survivors of war-related atrocities, including sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), if the survivors are interested. Although the two men deny recognizing her, Angela is now able to reconcile with those who hurt her and move on from this traumatic experience.
At 37 years old, Angela is now 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 interviewed for this article to tell other survivors about her story and to show how she was able to recover and prosper.
GRG supports more than 7,500 people directly and indirectly across northern Uganda to recover from war trauma and rebuild their lives, through counseling, group therapy, theatre and livelihood projects. Your support is vital to keep our activities going. Please consider making a donation.