Lulu Emmanuel the CATT (Children’s Accelerated Trauma Therapy) Co-ordinator based in the Mijale Clinic has shared with us some of the stories of children they have helped. All of the children and their guardians are happy for us to share their stories with you, to show you how difficult their lives are and how the counselling has helped. Lulu says “Thank you so much for reading these stories! May God bless and reward you more for your generosity towards the CATT project“.
Here is the short story of Karaba from our CATT team, a 17 yrs old South Sudanese girl and a primary seven leaver who lost her mother when she was only 1 year old and is currently residing in Pacific village (Kopionga Parish, Kerwa Sub-county, Yumbe district) under the guardian of her Aunt Baako Betty who later neglected her!
‘’ I did not see my mother but heard from my aunt that she died while in South Sudan when I was only 1year old and since then, I did not settle in one home – relatives could take me to stay with them and later, torture me in any way. During the war, we flee together with our elder sister and dad decided to settle us in Pacific village, where security seems to be maximum but the cost of living is extremely very high, yet Dad had no job making thriving very difficult for us. Out of frustration, Dad resorted to excessive consumption of alcohol and he abandoned us when I was a candidate in primary seven and ran to South Sudan – his whereabouts remains unknown. A month later, my only elder sister whom I entirely depended on also got married and gave me 20,000/= for survival. I was left to take care of myself at home and being an exam candidate, it became very difficult for me to cope up. I decided to use the 20,000/= as initial capital for brewing alcohol as well do some causal work like digging and fetching water for others to earn a living (mostly after classes and over the weekends). After four months of very difficult moments, a lady whom I knew was my aunt came and requested me to go and reside at her home, which I willingly accepted, but one month later, under unclear circumstances, everyone at her home turned against me including my aunt – beating, doing heavy work, insults, segregation, at times denial of food was my daily time table!! My eyes could most times be in tears and I always have painful head but nobody to help.
I had completely lost hope in life as I was afraid. I couldn’t continue with this kind of suffering besides, seeing the future for my education being doomed is the most painful thing in my life yet, I have the dream of becoming an accountant. However, I am so grateful to the almighty God for the gift of Rev. Canon Charles at last as I was going through this worst experience – he considered me as his biological daughter by organizing a series of counselling sessions involving psychoeducation and interesting self-story telling using some local objects which made me later felt relieved and free in mind – through his counselling sessions, I am seeing another brighter future – also his teaching has made me accept Jesus Christ as my personal saviour #I am a born again Christian now!! May God bless you more and more Rev. Canon Charles.’’
Here is a very short story of Esther, a 12yrs old South Sudanese girl and a resident of Koburua Village (appx 1km away from South Sudan border with Uganda) who narrowly escaped being shot with her father.
‘’It was at around 2:30pm EST, I, Dad, Mum and three of my younger siblings were at home having a chat. Then, I decided to go behind our house to collect some clothes and saw some five soldiers with guns and torn clothes emerging from the bush nearing our home. I immediately came and told Dad and we ran into the nearby bush to hide with mum, leaving just Dad on the compound. Shortly, the unknown armed soldiers whom we believed might have come from South Sudan arrived on our compound and started checking seriously in and out of our houses – we really didn’t know what exactly they were checking for and after nearly 15 minutes, we heard three loud gun sounds and shortly after our father started screaming for help while running towards us. I decided to escape from the bush running towards him but the shooting continued and as our distance neared, I saw Dad falling down with fresh bleeding from his legs and I decided to run back to the bush – all I could hear were loud gun sounds everywhere.
A while after ensuring the unknown armed soldiers had left, we hurried to the place where Dad was shot together with mum, to find him very weak and bleeding helplessly with a compound fracture on his legs and then, mum shouted for help and neighbours quickly responded with a bicycle, bound his legs and he was taken to a nearby health unit, from where he was referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital and is admitted up to now!
2 months later, while Dad is still in the hospital, Mum started excessively drinking alcohol and neglected us. So, I have to do everything at home for my three younger siblings including their medical care and feeding as our uncles reside very far away in different camps – they only help me in bring the food rations. Mum could only appear once in a month while drunk and the only thing she could do is to beat me mercilessly without any clear reason. I developed severe chest pain due to continuous heavy work, totally lost hope for the future and blamed our parents for giving birth to us in this strange world full of suffering. I always have strange nightmares and live in fear especially at night as some people also took the advantage of the absence of our parents to disturb us during night hours.
Esther’s initial Cries-8 Score was 38 and with the 5 different CATT Sessions, it was reduced to 3 and this is what she said on receiving the bars of soap and biscuits.
‘’ I am SO thankful to Counsellor Lulu Emmanuel for restoring hope and courage through teaching me how the brain works during and after experiencing difficult moments. He made me gather some local objects and tell my story while moving the objects forward and backwards which was so interesting and amazing. Surprisedly, the nightmares, fears and distresses were no more but more importantly, I thank him for the gifts of the bar of soaps and pieces of biscuit. All these have put a very big smile on our faces even though it was useless for me to receive the exercise books, pens and pencils since I am already a school dropout yet I had the interest to continue with my education.’’
This is the story of Yata, a 14yrs old South Sudanese lady and a resident of Kupia village (appx 5km away South of Liwolo and 2km away from the CRESS Funded clinic in Mijale – along Uganda-South Sudan border) under the guardian of Mr. James Taban (over 91yrs old).
‘’I lost my father in Ajio (South Sudan) when I was only 4yrs old – he succumbed to Liver cirrhosis and then later, we were forced to move to Khorijo IDP (South Sudan) together with our mum and three other siblings when the war intensified in 2017. In less than two years, we were forced to move to Kupia village (Northern Uganda) due to the ongoing conflicts in the country (South Sudan). I always have a sharp memory of our late dad because he was such a caring father to us and after his death, our elder paternal uncle inherited our Mum (he married her as his wife) and we were living together with his younger brother (who is also our paternal uncle) who later under unclear circumstances developed a permanent hatred for me, saying ‘’I am not supposed to stay at their home.’’ He always tortures me (beats, uses abusive language etc) in any way he likes to the extent one day, I got burnt with hot porridge. They have now refused to pay for us to school and getting food at home is by chance and luck! Our Mum could not bear it anymore, she decided to divorce and got married to another man, leaving us under the guidance of our grandfather (Taban James) who can’t afford to provide us with all the basic needs. We have enough freedom to do anything we like since there is no schooling or parental guidance. Our neighbours and well-wishers could sometimes invite us for meals once a while but I find myself having no appetite for food, always starring without thinking and staying in isolation and having a painful head (one side) – I can’t do my daily duties as usual.
One night while in Kupia village early this year, I, my friend and our grandfather Mr. James Taban were at home having a chat and I decided to go for a walk with my friend Silvia – it was at around 9:00pm EST. While in the latrine, we heard a commanding strange noise and shortly, we heard our grandfather screaming for help, this provoked us to run toward him for rescue. On reaching the compound, what we saw was very strange and terrifying!!! We show three tall men and one short man, two holding big guns and sharp knives and the other two had nothing with them (all wearing dark dressings) – they told us NOT to take a step forward and if we scream, they are going to slaughter us like chickens. Out of panic, we had to obey all their commands. They told us to watch what they are going to do and immediately, they started tying the hands and legs of our grandfather and later, beating him demanding him to pull a huge amount of money or else, he will be killed and we shall be raped in front of him and later taken as wives – unfortunately, our grandfather barely had any money to give them and they continued beating him until he became unconscious. And then, two men moved closure to me and towards my friend – we just knew this is the end of the world for us. They grabbed us and forced their shirts into our mouths so that we can’t shout for help and commanded us to remove our shirts but we refused – and two pulled the triggers wanting to shoot us while the two are busy struggling to remove our clothes including panties. We had no power at all and we were innocently raped and defiled by these two-armed unknown soldiers each with bruises on our faces. It was our first worst experience in my life. After their actions, they forced us to move together with them into the bush and after walking nearly 2kms, they told us they left their guns at our home and we again started coming back – reaching home, we found our grandfather still lying unconscious and helpless – they started kicking him and stepping on his back. My friend pretended as if she was going to the toilet, that’s how she found her way to escape these rapists. I remained with them – they knew their guns were with them and decided to leave me at home in pain and warned me not to tell what happened to anyone else and left.
After an hour, some of our neighbours who heard what was going on but couldn’t respond due to fear, appeared only to find me lying helplessly while bleeding and in severe lower abdominal pain and our grandfather unconscious and had to look for a means of transport. We were brought to Kerwa Police station and shortly, transferred to Kerwa Health Centre III for a medical check-up. I and my friend refused to be examined by all the health workers thinking the same incidence of rape will happen until another male health worker who came and introduced himself as the in-charge of the health facility and as well a counsellor helping children who might have experienced all sorts of trauma, that was when we realized, we were in safe hands and willingly agreed all the procedures to commence.
After discharge from the Health Centre, I started having nightmares, fear seeing someone with a gun and black dress, I develop hatred for boys and anytime I see a man, it makes me run and I feel like 7:00pm should always see me in bed, but after understanding how the brain works and series of CATT counselling sessions with a very unique play involving me telling my story while moving gathered local materials forward and backwards, I realized my brain is not congested with lots of flashbacks as before, and I am so happy because I am now able to do my daily activities and besides, the bars of soaps and other items I received has improved the standard of my living because now I am able to put on clean clothes though I know this is not sustainable!’’
Silvia’s Cries-8 score was 40 and with the 7 different CATT sessions, it reduced to 2 and she said ‘’I am always happy and free to share my testimony with other friends’’ – this has made us identify and record many cases of girls who have been victims of rape and defilement and were keeping it as a secret to themselves.