INCONTEXT AND PETRA INSTITUTE TAKE HANDS TO BRING HOPE AND RESTORATION TO SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEES

“The first challenge we face here as pastors is not knowing how to counsel the traumatised people, as we are traumatised ourselves, so we need special training as leaders on counselling.”

This need was expressed by South Sudanese pastors now living in the refugee camps in Uganda. During March and May 2017, Aron Mwasile, Director of Incontext East Africa visited the refugee camps in Uganda to see for himself what the situation was like and compiled a full assessment report highlighting the need expressed by the pastors.

The brutal civil war in South Sudan that broke out in December 2013 resulted in millions fleeing the country. More than a million of these refugees now live in various refugee camps in northern Uganda. In response to this request, INcontext launched Project Restoration to provide trauma counselling and training in trauma counselling to South Sudanese refugees. The project aimed to provide trauma counselling for the refugee pastors whilst, training them, to do trauma counseling with their congregation members. INcontext International invited Petra Institute for Children Ministry to conduct the trauma counseling training for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.

The first training took place from 7 to 11 August 2017 in Arua district in Northern Uganda. The training was attended by 34 refugee pastors from Rhino, Bidi Bidi and Moyo refugee camps. Ugandan pastors from Arua and missionaries at the Arua YWAM base were invited as well, bringing the total to 39 participants. The training was presented by three facilitators, namely Louwrens and Theunis Scheepers from South Africa and Samuel Malish, a South Sudanese refugee trained as mentor by Petra Institute for Children Ministry. Both Louwrens and Theunis are former employees of Petra Institute and now act as associates of the institute.

This year the training was held in the Rhino Refugee Camp, Ofua 3 section. The trainers from Petra Institute for Children Ministry and the Incontext team from Tanzania, who provided the logistical support, lived among the refugees, creating opportunity to create deep relationships with participants.

TUTOR TRAINING

Ten South Sudanese pastors were selected from the group trained in 2017 to attend a week of tutor training from 27 – 31 August. They were trained to present two days from the Petra Institute course “Entering the World of a Child”, as well as Matthew 18, focusing on leadership. During the second week (3-7 September) 23 children’s workers from various denominations joined the team and the 10 pastors presented the first two days of training. Louwrens and Theunis Scheepers presented three days from Petra Institute’s “Walking with Wounded Children” course focusing on trauma and using sandbox and toys as tools to help traumatised people verbalising their traumatic experiences. Joseph Oyet, a South Sudanese refugee recently trained by Petra Institute for Children Ministry, joined the facilitation team during the second week.

Theunis looking on as one of the tutors do a sandbox demonstration for the children’s workers they have trained, which is used in counselling children. The children will use the paper figures to play out their traumatic incidences.

 

The group of tutors were challenged on their view of their ministry and their attitude towards children in their communities. They looked at Jesus’s approach to the marginalized, especially children, through the devotional stories. The message from Mat 18:1-4 took root in many hearts and this was evident in the way they presented the content and process during practice.

Participants shared that they engaged for the first time in months with their small children due to the knowledge they gained in the training sessions. Israel shared that after the training in 2017, he recognised the symptoms of trauma in his son and with the skills he learned, he was able to help his son.  Emmanuel and Michael told that they were challenged to take serious the relationship with their own children.

Emmanuel is very traumatised through the death of his four brothers in an incident that happened in front of him. In a practical session during the training, the participants played with children. When Emmanuel went home, he took his six-month-old child in his arms for the first time in four months.

The same day, when Michael went home but did not as he usually did, sent out his kids. He went to them, sat down and played with them. Both Emmanuel and Michael shared how the contact and playing with children help to bring healing in themselves and their families.

Louwrens Scheepers with one of the refugee children – a bright and happy face!

The tutors learned how to facilitate different aspects of the course content; do needs assessment; active listening skills and reflecting on course content with students.

TRAINING OF CHILDREN’S WORKERS

The tutors then presented two days of training to 23 children’s workers, putting into practise all the new skills they acquired. They performed very well in presenting the first two days and showed no hesitation in engaging with families and children in the community when they were sent out; setting a good example for the children workers they trained. The joy expressed on the faces of the participants and the children during 1-1 games, the board game and the sandbox was evidence that good relationships were established.

Tutors and children’s ministry workers proudly waving their certificates. The mentors will continue to assist and equip them and further training should take place in 2019.

THE WAY FORWARD

This was the second step in a process to identify and develop tutors that can continue to present this training in the future. After discussions between the INcontext East Africa Director and Petra Institute for Children Ministry associates, the 10 tutors as well as the mentors representing Petra Institute, it was proposed that Samuel Malish and Joseph Oyet will do follow up trips to the camps to meet the 10 tutors. They will use as many of them as possible when they present the “Entering the World of a Child” course in the refugee camps. A follow-up training for the 10 tutors will be conducted within the next 12 months. The goal is to prepare them to present 5-days of training, including the material from the “Walking with Wounded Children” course.

May true healing come to the oppressed of South Sudan!

 

This course has really given me insight in how to interact with the children!

FEEDBACK FROM ONE OF THE GHANAIAN PARTICIPANTS OF THE RELATIONAL CHILDREN’S MINISTRY (RCM) ONLINE COURSE

Tell us how you (and the group) are doing (general, highlights, challenges) with the following:

Games

We are really enjoying the games we play. This is one of the exciting times with the children. They have mastered some of the games we play and it is always fun to play with the children. Through the games, our relationships have become stronger.

The butterfly effect

In 1972 the meteorologist Edward Lorenz presented a paper at a scientific convention titled “Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?” Based on careful mathematical calculations, he proved that the way weather conditions turn out depends on the sometimes minuscule factors influencing it in the initial stages. This came to be known as the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – a very small change in initial conditions can create a significantly different outcome. The concept is not new and can be found in fields varying from civil engineering to quantum physics to video games. It is a theme often found in novels and films.

Children’s movement of forgiveness

The Central African Republic is a country with much potential. It is rich in raw materials and has good agricultural soil.  But different rebel groups cause havoc in the country – almost 300 000 people fled the country, a further 643 000 has been displaced within the country and many, including children, lost their lives. In the past three years, Petra Institute presented advocacy workshops for leaders, and a selected group of leaders have been trained in children’s ministry skills as well as a few skills to assist traumatised children. 

Thank You!

Thank you that you prayed, contributed and supported us so that the Walking with Wounded Children (WWWC) course could be presented in various places. A group of tutors have been trained in Singapore in how to train others and it also has been presented at Kylemore outside Stellenbosch in the Western Cape.