Over a million people have fled to Uganda from South Sudan since the civil war began in 2013. Many are traumatised by violence, including forced displacement, rape and indiscriminate killing.
82% are women and children. Often they arrive weak, malnourished and traumatised.
The Ugandan government has set up settlements for the refugees in the bush. The camps are a melting pot of people from different tribes at war in South Sudan.
But how do you rebuild your life when you have lost so much? How do you live in peace surrounded by those you see as your enemies?
The refugees include church leaders who have established churches in the camps. They are giving comfort and support those who have fled.
When a foreigner resides among you in your land…..love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.
Leviticus 19: 33,34
How can the church in Uganda support people living in the settlements? This is a question PAG have been asking. The answer came from the camps themselves, where they met Bishop Emmanuel Murye from Kajokeji Diocese in South Sudan.
Before the civil war, Kajokeji Diocese had been running Church and Community Transformation projects with Tearfund. The Bishop has been encouraging his people to apply the lessons from that training in a new context. They have been reminding one another that even in the camps there are resources they can use.
PAG are supporting these Sudanese churches and planting churches of their own. Together they have discovered two pressing needs in the camps: trauma care and peacebuilding.
So in May PAG started training 36 Sudanese and Ugandan Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM) facilitators together, to address these issues. The facilitators were selected from the churches in the settlements and churches of the host communities.
They began by studying passages from Genesis 1-3. These speak powerfully of God’s plan to bring restoration so people can flourish. These studies gave people hope.
Next, a Trauma Care Specialist helped them look at trauma care in more detail. They started trauma groups to discuss their experiences and share comfort and healing. They learnt about the trauma healing process, and the signs of trauma in others.
From the first training session the participants testified to how God’s word powerfully ministered to them. After releasing the pain in their own hearts, they have gone away to set up trauma groups in communities within the camps to help others begin to experience healing.
God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:4
This July the facilitators are gathering again to report back on how the trauma groups are going and to receive specialist training in peace building.
In the camps people are living alongside those from different ethnic tribes at war in South Sudan. Tensions are not far below the surface. Fights continue to break out.
The facilitators are themselves from different tribes. They know that unless people make peace with one another they will not return to their homeland peacefully.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility
The World Bank estimates that 2 billion people live in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence. Countries like South Sudan. If you want to find out about our work in fragile states you can find out more here.
- Pray that the Trauma Groups would help heal and restore those who have been devastated by violence and displacement.
- Pray for the Facilitators gathering in July for training in Peacebuilding. Pray that God would raise up those who can act as peacebuilders in the camps and back in South Sudan.
- Pray for lasting peace to come to South Sudan so that refugees can return home where they will thrive better.
- South Sudan is facing the prospect of another severe food crisis - hundreds of thousands of people face starvation. Pray for the efforts of our staff, partners and other humanitarian groups to get food and essential supplies to those in most need.
- Pray that God would continue to give PAG national and local leaders vision to see and work for the transformation of lives, communities and their nation.