News from Rumbek

Students and community members participate in Healing and Rebuilding workshop

Over the midterm break, a group of students and community members participated in a three-day Healing and Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) workshop at Loreto. This workshop trained participants in trauma healing strategies, and was sponsored by the Loreto Peace Club with support from the Mennonite Central Committee.

On the first day of the workshop, the community members arrived joyfully with a mission to gain seeds of wisdom. Their blissful arrival was characterized by vibrant dances to traditional songs and music. On the second day of the workshop, all participants attended Loreto’s weekly mass. The message from Fr. Augustine during the mass emphasized the fact that true love is the only way to embrace peace and forgiveness.

During the HROC workshop sessions, 30 men and women, and 7 children from Maker-Kuei discussed events that steal their joy and cause them pain. Their discussions focused on revenge killings, sickness and limited medical attention for the old and very young, hurtful words, famine and hunger in absence of rains, and the loss of loved ones.

Some acknowledged their happiness in attending the workshop – an opportunity to describe their pain. They also reported that they felt secure in the workshop because it helped them to learn to handle conflict in a non-violent way and to stop revenge killings.

For them, the hope given through the sessions helped them to forget about their problems. They found that being together, talking and laughing, helped to ease the heaviness of their pain.

They also enjoyed playing games together during the workshop. One participant stated in reference to the workshop facilitator, “You are the needle we can sow our clothes. You’ve made our place better.” For him, knowledge is the power that brings a change.

Twenty-one students also participated in a separate HROC workshop facilitated by Eunice Okwemba. Students learnt about Johari’s Window, a tool that helps participants to understand the need for sharing about their trauma.

Eilis Adejang, a Senior 2 student explains, “Our life is like a window with four parts. 1. Open Window: things I know and others know about me. 2. Secret Window: things I know about myself but others don’t know, like things I have done, especially the bad ones. 3. Blind Window: things people know about me but I don’t know, like my abilities. 4.Mysterious window: It is only God who knows like our future.”

Students defined trauma as an experience, something done, seen or heard that wounds the heart deeply. It could be broken relationships, loss, failures, divorce, and forced marriages among others.

The loss results in grief, and mourning – time taken to honor and remember what you lost. Affected persons will undergo the stages of grief (shock; denial and numbness; realization; anger; guilt and regret; physical reactions like poor concentration; apathy and hopelessness; acceptance; and readjustment).

Students also learnt that anger could be either constructive or destructive. After discussions, participants sang and danced as a way of liberating themselves from any stress.

For the community members, on the last day of training, they learnt that healing from trauma could come from sharing what is in their hearts. The facilitator used an example of an object hidden in her pocket, asking participants to guess at its identity. She explained that it is easier for others to help us when they know our pain.

To learn about trust, participants participated in a trust walk, walking in pairs with one partner leading the other whose eyes were closed. Participants discussed their feelings after the trust walk, reflecting on the reasons they had trusted or distrusted their partner.

They also talked about people in their community that they trusted and the elements that caused this trust to grow. One participant reported that she trusted her neighbor because they had lived together for many years. To close the workshop, the community members participated in a breathing exercise and a cultural song and dance, followed by prayer.

We believe that the HROC workshop participants will be able to serve in their home and school communities to educate others as we work to disseminate peace and enjoy a more peaceful environment in Maker Kuei.

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