Tag Archives: Bible Society

GTRI 2014 Trip: Day 3


[These are journal entries from my recent trip To Uganda and Rwanda during the first weeks of July.]

Day 3, July 3

Today was the 2nd and final day of the first ever Community of Practice for the Bible Society of Uganda trauma healing volunteers. Another long day as the program did not end until about 7 pm! Today I presented on an overview and update on the impact and treatment of PTSD. This is a group that likes to ask questions! We discussed the role of demonic in PTSD and how to know the difference. Many of the participants were quite interested in discussing how to educate local pastors in understanding the nature of dissociation. I also participated in teaching the new lesson (added chapter to Healing The Wounds of Trauma material) on domestic violence. In discussing why victims “choose” to stay in DV situations we had some lively discussion about whether the Bible teaches that women must stay. Very productive I think and gave some people a new perspective on the need to bring this hidden scourge out into the light.

The conference ended with reports, public conference evaluations (loved the very direct and loving evaluation of my presentations: have me speak more, have me slow down!), the handing out of the certificates, and final words. One of the most moving items was that I received “thank yous” in every mother tongue present. Seemed like there were at least 30 different languages represented. It was hard not to be choked up. I recognized a few (Arabic, Swahili, Kinyarwandan).

Two take-aways I want to remember:

  1. We need special materials for ex-combatants. First, much of the focus in Uganda has been on child soldiers. But the country is full of adult ex-combatants who were in Amin’s military or subsequent militaries and who now feel disconnected and distanced from current society. Some report that if they get together for sharing with other ex-combatants, they get reported (falsely) for starting a rebel group. One reported being jailed briefly for such a matter. Several told me that they were suffering terribly from being in POW camps and from the violence they witnessed. But most importantly, they noted that much of the trauma healing materials only speak of soldiers as the cause of trauma and so they feel more isolated when they read about or attend trauma healing exercises. No one, they feel, speaks of the trauma of seeing comrades die, of being forced to carry out commands against their will.
  2. Trauma healing volunteers, financing, and the need for View from my roomtangibles. Some of the volunteers believe that they must bring tangibles when coming to do trauma healing work. Words are not enough and participants expect some sort of handout: soap, money for transport, etc. The discussion we had about this ranged from criticism of this part of Ugandan culture and the need to develop a donor rather than handout culture to recognition that this culture has been formed, in part, by well-meaning foreign (Muzungu) NGOs that offer handouts as a means to increase participation in projects. Some volunteers noted they had been falsely accused of pocketing monies intended for participants when they didn’t come with any “gifts.” In addition, many discussed the difficulty of funding the trauma healing groups and the need to find sustainable funding using micro-enterprise.

My day had three other stimulating experiences. First, I was interviewed by a journalist for television broadcast. Supposedly, it aired across the nation this evening, though I did not see it. Second, a woman told me of meeting Joseph Kony about 4 years ago (during the failed attempt to negotiate with him). She said that he was very winsome and crafty. If she didn’t know better, she could have fallen for his lines. I guess this is one of the reasons he is able to stay “missing” by convincing others to help hide him. Finally, I received a text from my wife letting me know that the US government warned of a terror plot at Entebbe airport tonight (about 10 miles from here). I’m planning on being there tomorrow to fly to Kigali. I guess I will evaluate the treat in the am.

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Filed under Africa, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

GTRI 2014 Trip: Day 1 and 2


unnamed[I’ve been back for a couple of weeks but just now getting to write about this trip. These notes from each day come from my journal and don’t represent all that I did each day.]

Today (July 1), I landed midday at Entebbe airport just outside Kampala, Uganda. Entebbe is on the shores of Lake Victoria. I was met by Justus Rubarema of the Bible Society of Uganda as well as Klero Onuha of the Bible Society of South Sudan. Both men worth getting to know! We waited a bit for Margaret Hill’s plane arriving from Nairobi. Once gathered, we made for the Lweza Conference Centre about half way to the city of Kampala. Lovely grounds. Peaceful. Enjoyed the little monkeys eating flowers and looking for handouts (I had none).

I arrived at this conference (Community of Practice for Trauma Healing practitioners trained by the Bible Society) feeling fairly awake despite 26 hours of travel time. It may have helped a bit that I was unexpectedly bumped to business class on Qatar Airways from Philadelphia to Doha (a 13 hour leg). I suspect the lay flat seats had something to do with my feeling pretty good. Feeling good, I invited Margaret to go on a small walk around the area and on a quiet road outside the compound. Discussed some of her techniques to help quiet distress in participants where violence and trauma was ongoing (e.g., Bangui, CAR). We discussed the use of the “butterfly hug” as a means to calm. Also, discussed the use of drawing a place “bien etre” rather than a “safe place” since most participants she had did not have such a safe place at the present time. We finished our discussion of how to safeguard the mis-use of these calming techniques so that they would not be mis-represented as being more than they are, techniques used to help someone in the midst of distress.

Ended our day with a meal of rice, bananas, potatoes and chicken. Off to bed in hopes of getting on the right time zone quickly.

Day 2

First full day of the conference (and FULL it was, 8am to 6:30pm). Attendees are all Ugandan plus Klero from South Sudan. Most are volunteers for the Bible Society, trained to provide healing groups using the Healing Wounds of Trauma materials. Some work with children, some with adults, some with ex-combatants, some with refugees, and some with women with HIV. The purpose of this conference is to add to their knowledge and skill base plus problem-solve as to how to provide more trauma healing experiences around the country—with almost no budget. Most of the country is well-represented including a number from Gulu and also the Nakivale refugee camp. More men than women. A couple of academic types are also present, representing both the Ugandan Counseling Association and the Ugandan Christian Counseling Association. Plus, one nun representing the faculty of a nearby Catholic college.

I presented on an update to listening skills which seemed well-received. This group is very willing to discuss, raise questions, and debate. I like it! It was requested that I offer some counseling sessions after dinner and so I did. Two men requested it and so I got a chance to hear about their ministries, their hearts, and their difficult struggles, both from the past and in the present. One of the things I am seeing here is that Ugandans need the wisdom of Solomon, the heart of David, and the integrity of Daniel, even when trying to deal with so-called Christian bosses. One fun fact is that the power went out right in the middle of one of the sessions. No problem. We could keep talking in pitch-dark! But by the time I fumbled with lighting a nearby candle, a generator kicked on and power was restored.

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Filed under "phil monroe", Africa, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Pray for the Congo (DRC) this week


DRC, orthographic projection.

Image via Wikipedia

Today, November 28, 2011, Congolese have been voting in presidential and parliament elections. For those of you who followed my DRC/Rwanda trip posts, I encourage you to lift up this country, its leaders, and the people. As you likely know, the country has a weak central government, an assortment of militias roaming the north and east, wrecking havoc in the form of rape where ever they go. It is a lovely country, resource rich (minerals) and yet one of the poorest places in the world.

Pray for no violence. Pray for leaders with integrity. Pray for the church to be the church. Pray for nonprofit ministries like the Bible Society in the Congo. Pray for a united will among all the peoples to stand against rape.

Read this short news item in the WSJ on the elections.

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Trauma Recovery Work in Africa: Itinerary


Those of you interested in trauma recovery work can feel free to pray through our upcoming trip and itinerary (as well as for our families!). Our team (Diane Langberg, Carol King, Josh Straub, Baraka Unwingeneye, Josephine Munyeli, and me) will be providing a 3 day trauma recovery training for Rwandan nationals October 19-21 funded by generous donors from the AACC and WorldVision. Diane and I are leaving early for some assessment work with the American Bible Society and national bible societies in the region.

  • Oct 10-11: DL and PM to Entebbe, Uganda to meet up with African and American Bible Society leaders
  • Oct 12: DL and PM (via MAF plane) to Bunia, DRC to meet with Bible Society workers and those receiving care
  • Oct 13: DL and PM (via MAF plane) to Beni, DRC to meet with seminary/university professionals; then on to Goma, DRC
  • Oct 14-16: DL and PM meeting with Bible Society staff, trauma victims, and trauma recovery workers in Goma, DRC
  • Oct 14: JS and CK to leave for Kigali, RW
  • Oct 17: DL and PM to drive from Goma, DRC to Kigali, RW
  • Oct 18: Meetings, prep for conference
  • Oct 19-21: Conference lead by BU, JM, DL, JS, CK, and PM for WorldVision workers, clergy, educators, and others
  • Oct 21: Leave Kigali
  • Oct 22: Arrive Philadelphia

Pray for health, safety, ability to listen well, to teach well and to be flexible. Pray for our families in just the same way.

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Filed under "phil monroe", AACC, christian counseling, christian psychology, Democratic Republic of Congo, Goma, Rwanda, teaching counseling, trauma