Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rampaged across northern Uganda for more than 20 years, abducting civilians and forcing children to become soldiers. In their wake, they left devastated lives and communities. Network for Africa chose to tackle the LRA’s toxic legacy in the obscure north east of Uganda, where there were no big international charities, and minimal health facilities.
Network for Africa’s remarkable volunteer psychotherapists, Dr Barbara Bauer, Shelly Evans and Dr Kathy Dewein, have returned every few months over the years, training a group of bright local people, who in turn have reached thousands of Ugandans. They have:
– taught people to manage their post-traumatic stress disorder;
– become an essential part of the support offered by under-resourced local health professionals;
– trained community leaders to understand mental illness and to fight superstition and ignorance about mental health issues and epilepsy.
From the beginning, Network for Africa’s approach attracted local attention, with people coming from miles around for help, quite an achievement in a place with few vehicles and no public transport. Although we helped thousands of people begin the process of rebuilding their lives, we knew our work in Patongo was reaching merely the tip of the iceberg in such a vast, neglected region.
Now, one of the UK’s largest grant-makers, Comic Relief, is helping Network for Africa to expand our innovative model to four surrounding sub-counties. Our aim, as before, is to train medical staff and community leaders, to raise awareness and to advocate for change. We will prepare a core group of counsellors to reach into remote villages where the levels of war-related trauma are among the world’s highest recorded rates.
Network for Africa is also marking our tenth anniversary as a registered charity. Thank you to our supporters: we hope you are proud of what you have achieved in Rwanda and Uganda. Because of you, thousands of otherwise forgotten survivors of genocide and conflict have received counselling, training, treatment, sponsorship and support. As ever, they wish us to thank you for giving them a helping hand.
Although our expanded work in Uganda is being supported by Comic Relief, we still need your help in making our other work possible. As we mark World Mental Health Day, we hope you will consider donating to our efforts. Please click the arrow on the right to donate. Thank you.