Our new projects with South Sudanese refugees: Trauma counseling & livelihoods

After over 11 years of successful work of reintegrating former child soldiers, our focus at the Grassroots Reconciliation Group shifted in 2018 to address the urgent new crisis in Uganda: the 1 million refugees from war-torn South Sudan. Here is a quick summary of who we are and what we do. 

Summary: War trauma healing & economic empowerment for refugees and former child soldiers

  • Founded in 2007, has run projects for former child soldiers & host community members in 27 remote communities of northern Uganda.
  • Work in remote rural areas where needs are highest. We are frequently the only non-profit organization operating in those areas.
  • Focus until 2018 was on reintegrating of former Lord’s Resistance Army combatants.
  • Current focus is on refugees: addressing war trauma, livelihoods, and peace-building needs of South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan host communities for peaceful co-existence.

Mission: To support war-affected communities, refugees, and former child soldiers to help heal their war trauma, rebuild their lives, and reconcile through holistic, culturally appropriate, and locally designed projects.

Track record: GRG’s first decade of work from 2007 to 2017 was focused on addressing key needs in northern Uganda that emerged from the 30-year war with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). We focused on helping former LRA child soldiers and other ex-combatants reintegrate into their communities and rebuild their lives through innovative reconciliation, microfinance, livelihoods, and trauma counseling projects. We successfully help reintegrate former combatants in 27 communities in remote areas. 98% of the former child soldiers reported having better relationship with community members after attending trauma counseling. Today, we run a smaller program for 350 former LRA combatants focused on survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (233 women & 117 men).

Current work with South Sudanese refugees: GRG shifted its focus in 2018 to use our expertise to address the new acute need in northern Uganda: the over 1 million refugees from war-torn South Sudan. Our needs assessment found that the refugees have severe trauma from the conflict, and also that there are dangerous tensions between refugees and Ugandan host communities. We developed three projects under this framework, which began in June 2018:

  1. War trauma counseling & support: Trauma counselling for individuals, families, and groups; anti-stigmatization training; and training of peer counselors. 1,090 beneficiaries.
  2. Sustainable livelihoods: economic empowerment through animal husbandry, organic farming, microfinance, & small business training. Three groups of beneficiaries, 30 members each.
  3. Peace-building: Addressing conflicts between refugees and host communities through conflict resolution skills training; peace dialogues; community theater; and training of peace agents. 1,090 beneficiaries total.

Locations: In and around Palabek refugee settlement camp, Lamwo District; Ngomo-oromo, Apuk, Yoke and in Padibe West, in Madi-Kiloch and Madi Opoki, in Gem; Cubu, Moroto and Ayuu Anaka.

Overall annual budget: $50,000.

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