Trauma Counseling

Favor of God uses the Empower Program created by Dr. Robi Sonderegger of Family Challenge Australia. It is a trauma counseling program that can be successful in even the poorest and most remote villages. The facilitators need only a primary school education, and the language and lessons are simple and easy to follow.The Empower Program addresses people who have experienced highly stressful life events. In Northern Uganda, every person has a story of tragedy and fear. War has been a constant reality for the last 22 years. 66,000 children have been abducted to be brainwashed into soldiers. Most people have had relatives murdered or maimed often right before their eyes. Many have been forced to kill or be killed. And, everyone was corralled into Internally Displaced People camps where the conditions where inhuman, and at its worst 1000 people were dying everyday due to malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, and lack of medial care.

The people of northern Uganda have experienced horror like most could never imagine. But, nobody is talking about what they experienced. It is far too painful to recount. That leaves people living with symptoms of anxiety, fear, physical sickness, despair, anger, violence, guilt, recurring flashbacks, hallucinations, sleeplessness, and isolation. In addition, extreme anger with God is commonplace.

The Empower program has two parts. The first section focuses on developing emotional strength, and the second teaches about forgiveness. Throughout the program the facilitators use games and physical activity to teach people how to connect to one another and counter stress with positive activity. In addition, stories and sharing time help the participants understand pain and trauma from another perspective while giving them the opportunity to discuss the events they’ve experienced.

Currently Favor of God has had to stop all Trauma Counseling due to lack of funding. For two years Favor of God’s Trauma Counseling was fully funded as one of the Trauma Counseling case studies. Now, the funding has stopped while at the same time Favor of God’s donations have decreased to the point where Trauma Counseling had to be put on hold. This is unfortunate because of the great need for this type of program in the north and also because of its important role in the sharing of the gospel.

If Favor of God entered an IDP camp by first sharing the gospel, no one would listen due to their feelings toward God. Trauma counseling is important for these people to find healing, gain strength, develop skills to become successful in life, and it teaches them about forgiveness and Jesus, the one who suffered deeply and also forgave. Once the people have completed the trauma counseling, they are often ready and eager to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Only then can Favor of God continue with a 2-month long Portable Bible School to train and disciple.

Favor of God views Trauma Counseling as a vital part of the rehabilitation of the people of northern Uganda. If they don’t receive guidance with how to deal with their terrifying experiences, their wounds will handicap them as they attempt to recommence life post war. This would be a hardened generation stuck in complete despair. Their children would reap the results of that despair, and the cycle will continue. Developing emotional strength and working through their trauma are necessary steps to seeking education, seeking employment, being motivated, raising children, and facing any new challenges that arise.

The goal of Favor of God is to find consistent funding that is dedicated solely to Trauma Counseling thereby ensuring its continuance as this war-torn generation heals and finds strength over the coming years.

Impact

Upon receiving the consistent funding, Favor of God will again begin reaching out with Trauma Counseling. Favor of God will continue to go into the many IDP camps that still hold the 1,000’s of people afraid to return to their villages. We will also go into villages that are being re-established. Favor of God also seeks to go into Southern Sudan and the D.R. Congo where the LRA is currently very active and causing the same horror that it did in northern Uganda only a few years ago. We have had many requests from both southern Sudan and Congo to come in with our program.

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