Trust Funds for Victims Boosts Treatment of Trauma in Uganda

2750 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Five years ago, the Trust Funds for Victims engaged the school of Psychology at Makerere University and the Center for Victims of Torture, to build the capacity of psycho-social counselors to respond and treat victims of the conflict experiencing recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder.

Victims of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) conflict in Northern Uganda who are still suffering from untreated trauma can now find specialized treatment in the region, thanks to the Trust Funds for Victims.

Five years ago, the Trust Funds for Victims engaged the school of Psychology at Makerere University and the Center for Victims of Torture, to build the capacity of psycho-social counselors to respond and treat victims of the conflict experiencing recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder.
 
Scott Bartell, the Programs Manager of the Trust Funds for Victims in Uganda says the capacity building program was introduced after a baseline survey indicated inert lack of trauma counselors in the conflict affected region. He said what the baseline discovered was the presence of counselors with basic social background without required skills for diagnosis and treatment of trauma.
 
Scott says the counselors have been deployed in hospitals and clinics set up in offices of implementing partners in Northern Uganda and has treated several victims. He says for trauma to heal; the clients have to make at least 15 visits to the clinics.
 
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Scott says the program continues to build the practical capacity of Makerere University students in Clinical diagnosis and treatment of Trauma in most communities in Northern Uganda.
 
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Scott says they are interested in building the capacity of local institutions in order to sustain the assistance in place since treatment of trauma often takes many years to conclude.
 
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Recently, the University of the Sacred Heart in Gulu introduced a program to train more psychological trauma counselors to deal with untreated wounds of the Lord's Resistance conflict.
 
Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the Chancellor of the University said the training is essential in improving the quality of the human resources in the post conflict region. He said all families in the area require routine counseling to fully recover from the effects of the conflict.
 
To increase access to such counselors, archbishop Odama directed all schools and religious institutions founded by the Catholic Church to nominate and sponsor a student for such a training program.
 
The more than two decades of conflict in Northern Uganda started in 1987. The United Nations estimate that it killed 10,000 people and displaced more than 1.2 million others. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), the rebel group behind the conflict gained notoriety for abductions of children to replenish its fighting force.
 
The UN Agency UNICEF estimates that 60,000 children were abducted and conscripted into fighters while others were used as porters to carry loot and sex slaves. Today, many of them have returned to live within communities they once brutalized with scars of the conflict - trauma - which manifests as night mares.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.