Yesterday the United States awoke to the news of a horrific shooting rampage that took place in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater shortly after the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight. The most recent reports confirmed that twelve people were killed and nearly 70 total injured. While these kinds of events are sadly too common in recent US history, the scale of this crime rivals some of the worst massacres in this nation’s history. This weekend, Americans are collectively spending time trying to comprehend just how this kind of horrendous crime could take place. But as much debate over those issues that takes place in the next few weeks, the majority of people will have moved on in a rather short time. Our culture has a generally short attention span, and new stories will overtake headlines sooner than later. Closer to Aurora, though, those who were directly impacted by the tragedy will continue to deal with the overwhelming realities. They will begin to make sense of how their lives are forever changed, and how they will be defined moving forward. (more…)
“The fighting has left us with a lot of scars- but that is not where our story ends.” -Patongo Primary School Teacher
The 2006 documentary War Dance follows the journey of a group of primary school musicians from the town of Patongo in Northern Uganda, all the way to the nation’s capital of Kampala. The children are traveling to compete in Uganda’s National Music & Dance Festival. But the trip is about more than a competition. These Acholi kids represent a region devastated by the rebel group the LRA, and they are only recently coming to terms with the trauma they have experienced while living in IDP camps.
(Continued from Northern Expansion Part I)
My limited time in Uganda prevented me from traveling north to Acholiland where TCON has recently expanded it’s efforts. Instead, the Gulu leaders came to Craig and I to discuss future plans. The lunch meeting lasted less than a few hours, yet the conversations from this particular meeting have echoed in my mind and heart repeatedly since that afternoon.
In psychology there is a term called countertransference that refers to the emotional experience of a therapist in connection to the patient. In certain psychological theories, countertransference is deemed an enemy to the therapeutic process. In other relationally-oriented theories, countertransference is simply viewed as another tool for understanding your patient and all that they are bringing to the relationship. You can likely guess which camp I fall into. The therapist in me showed up for that particular meeting (I find it difficult to ever really set it aside). As I sat and took in stories of traumatized children – children who were abducted, forced to murder their own family members for survival, children who were tortured and raped – it was only natural to focus intently on the impact of trauma written on the faces of the women sharing these stories. (more…)
Since TCON’s birth in 2005 our primary focus has been upon the widows of the TESO sub-region of Uganda. This eastern sub-region is home to an estimated 2.5 million people and it encompasses 8 out 111 different districts throughout all of Uganda. When Dave first connected with Beatrice (our TESO Widow’s Advocate), she had founded a Widows Development Initiative (TEWIDI) with a total of a few hundred women. TCON agreed to come alongside TEWIDI to offer agricultural business initiatives and further development support. Over the past six years the organization has expanded its membership to tens of thousands, with recently-widowed women joining the organization everyday.
A couple of years ago, as relative peace in the northern Acholi sub-region became a reality once the LRA was finally driven out of Uganda, a widow from Gulu heard about what was taking place in TESO. Upon learning of an upcoming conference sponsored by TCON in Soroti, she was determined to attend so that she could see with her own eyes the power of a vulnerable people banded together. What she witnessed challenged her to begin a widows development initiative in the Acholi sub-region. Since she attended that conference two years ago her initiative has grown to 7,000 women and TCON has been actively assisting this organization with similar agricultural projects. (more…)