"Now I can sleep like a baby... We have trust in the community"

EDITOR’S NOTE: You’ll notice this story is a bit different to others, it’s because the words are Gani’s, his father’s and ours. We wanted to share it with you because He wanted to, and because, like so many other children, Gani’s story is important.

Jonathan (Gani’s father) was plagued by nightmares, hallucinations and flashbacks. In Congo, rebels had attacked his village and killed most of his family right in front of his eyes. He had been powerless to stop it. In his panic, he fled with some neighbors across the border to the Nakivale refugee settlement in Uganda, losing Gani in the chaos.

“When I reached in Nakivale the first office that received me was Tutapona,” says Jonathan. He began counseling sessions and our staff helped him get the treatment he needed, allowing him to sleep at night and start recovering from what he had been through. And then he heard miraculous news: someone had seen his son.

Somehow, Gani had survived the massacre and escaped the rebels. He had been taken in by a neighboring village. He was still alive!

Tutapona helped him get to the Red Cross office, who work to reunite children with their families. They made arrangements for Gani to be transported to the Ugandan border where he and Jonathan were reunited!

Of course, the reunion is not the end of the story. We continue to work closely with this father-and-son family to help them process the enormity of what they have been through. The effects of trauma are deep and complicated.

What happened to Gani before he was returned to his father is not at all clear. “Sometimes…he looks at me like he can’t remember anything,” Jonathan explains, “even his age, or what he is doing. He is a completely different child.” The boy has scars on his body, and he won’t talk about what happened, not even with his father. In fact, Gani hardly talks at all.

Life is not easy for Gani in the refugee settlement. He’s glad to be with his father, but it is extremely difficult to adjust to life without his mom, his siblings, and his grandmother. He misses life back home, before the war. Since coming to the refugee settlement, he has kept to himself and hasn’t made friends with other children. Yet, he enjoys school and loves writing class.

Young Gani dreams of becoming a teacher and a writer.

Despite everything, he hasn’t given up. He has hope for the future, and hope changes everything. We will continue to walk alongside Gani and his father, doing everything we can to make sure that when Gani writes the story of his life, it’s not a tale of despair but a testimony of hope.


-Jonathan & Gani

*Names have been changed to protect the individuals and their family

Support Tutapona

Because of the generosity of others, Jonathan and Gani are now lights in their community. BUT there are thousands of people just like them with stories that are yet to end with hope. Help Tutapona bring hope & healing by donating to the #40ThousandLights campaign & help us bring light to 40 Thousand more lives, homes & communities.

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