Trauma Counseling in Barlonyo and Abia IDP Camps

10/26/07

In the month of September 2007, we carried out counseling sessions in two different displacement camps, Barlonyo and Abia camps. We traveled there daily throughout the week to do counseling as well as help identify orphaned and destitute children, especially those from child-headed households who could be admitted into our COTN–Uganda children’s home. We chose to begin with the two aforementioned camps because they were located within close geographical distance to one another and because they have been amongst such camps that experienced some of the worst human massacres within the Lira sub-region of northern Uganda, allegedly by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. These two particular massacres occurred within the same month of February 2004; Abia refugee camp on the 4th; and the Barlonyo camp on the 21st. During these massacres, over 350 people, including children, were killed. Hundreds were gunned down while others outran the gunfire and hid in their thatched huts only to be burned alive in an inferno when the huts they were hiding in were torched. This horrific attack occurred in broad day light between 4 to 5 pm. Today, huge mass graves lay at each of the sites—one at Barlonyo and the other in Abia. These sites serve as a memorial to those who perished in that massacre and as a reminder of the cruelty and violence that the population has been subjected to.

At present, there has been a lull of hostilities and bloodshed due to the peace negotiations between the LRA insurgents and the Uganda government currently going on in Juba, the capital of southern Sudan. Many of the people in these camps have taken advantage of this peacetime and have left the camps to return to their villages to grow crops in their gardens so they’ll have food. Whenever we reach the camps, with the help of local leaders we trace the families of the victims of the massacres to deep inside these villages. During counseling sessions we hear harrowing stories—word-by-word accounts of the ordeal that befell these communities in the refugee camps. We are also helping identify the children who lost their fathers or both parents in the massacres.

Our day begins with morning devotions in our office where we commit the entire day to Almighty God before departure to the field; so that the hand of God guides us in whatever we do and we not depend on our own understanding (Prov. 3:5). Continue to pray that God will continue to bring healing to those traumatized in Uganda and that He will use us in a mighty way.