There is a lot more to overcoming tragedy than simply not allowing it to consume you. Just making it through the day is not survival. Survival is when you accept your circumstances, as dire as they may be, and you work to change them. When you change your mindset, you change your life, and when you change your life you can change the world around you. Sister Margaret Aceng is surviving.
Sister Margaret father was murdered by the Lord’s Resistance Army in 1998. They found him on the way home from work, robbed him, and hacked him to death with machetes. Sister Margaret was studying psychology in Kenya at the time and couldn’t have known that the theories on coping and trauma she was reading about would suddenly become so relevant in her own life. Soon after her father’s death, she began to notice how many people in Uganda had similar horrific things happen to them and their families, and she saw that people were suffering. People in Uganda had no one to talk to, no one to help them understand the pain they were feeling. So Sister Margaret, partly to help heal herself, and partly to help heal her country, began to formulate the idea of creating a counseling center in Northern Uganda to help people traumatized by the war.
Surprisingly, it would be the first of its kind.
On Friday June 26, 2009, Caritas Counseling Center held its first ever graduation ceremony for the 126 peer counselors that have been trained since 2006. These are teachers, nurses, social workers, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters that have lived through war, but refuse to let it control their world. To them, the war is ending, and the healing is beginning. The Archbishop of Gulu was in attendance on Friday and he reminded everyone that “the physical wounds of the war have healed, but the trauma is still there.”
The graduates of CCC have undergone an eight-week training course, held in the evenings and on weekends so they can continue to work full-time, and have earned a certificate in Guidance and Counseling.
These graduates are taking the world around them, one that has been unfair and violent, and they are facing it down. They are healing themselves, and the process is directly linked to giving back and healing others. A lot of psychological pain has been caused by the LRA, and Sister Margaret Aceng once told me that “the war of the gun is over, but the war of the mind will take a long time to end.”
Fortunately, if there are more survivors like Sister Margaret and her graduates, it may be over sooner than she thinks.
Posted By Bryan Lupton
Posted Jun 29th, 2009