Her eyes are closed. She is recalling the very worst day of her life. She flinches, takes a deep breath, then nods her head as the memories begin to play.
She remembers the bullets, slamming into the ground around her. She remembers her mother, pressing her body into the dust, shielding her from the shower of death. She remembers the heap of humanity; uncles & grandparents strewn across her siblings, using their own bodies to protect them from the rain of bullets and the men in the trucks.
She remembers that they had tried to run, but they weren’t fast enough.
At long last, silence falls, and the trucks drive away. But nobody moves. Nobody speaks. She remembers the dust turning into clay around her, a mix of sweat, tears and blood.
Not her blood.
She remembers her mother, crying out in pain as blood poured from her leg. And as she wriggles from beneath her and stands to her feet she remembers heartbreak in physical form.
Her grandfather and two of her uncles lay still, not moving. They’d given their lives to protect hers. Her aunt and one remaining uncle rush to help her mother and grandmother who are bleeding profusely from their wounds.
It is a scene no child should have to see, let alone live through.
The news wrecked Nadia’s mother. Over the next few weeks Nadia helplessly watched as the trauma of seeing her family killed and losing her husband paralyzed her mother’s ability to communicate.
Heartbroken, weary and confused, Nadia arrived in Uganda bearing the weight of her escape and the trauma she experienced. Like the rest of her family, she struggled to sleep, to eat, to settle in.
Too often it felt like there was no hope for the future, no reason to go on. The little family, broken from the loss, would stay inside their little house, in a silence only interrupted by flashbacks and nightmares.
Then, one day in late October, Nadia’s aunt came across a group of of people in her community. They were doing something they didn’t usually do – they were talking about their experiences. As her aunt sat down in the back of the group, tears began to stream down her face, so many of these people had faced the same experiences as her family. That day would change her family’s lives.
The next day, Nadia’s aunt dressed her as an adult, hiding her face with a hijab, and walked with her, her uncle and grandmother to the EMPOWER group sessions. As Nadia sat and listened she discovered that her experiences didn’t have to define her future.
“We were about to give up, but Tutapona helped us and gave us hope for a future.”
It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship between her family and Tutapona. Together they began to encourage one another, reviewing what they have learned in the program.
“We learned to talk to each other and now we don’t lose hope, we don’t give up… The lessons helped us to open up to each other.”
The EMPOWER program taught Nadia and her family the importance of forgiveness, of not giving up, and of thinking of the future. Most of all, it showed them that God loves them.
“Before we used to be scared, we couldn’t sleep, we had fear. But now, we thank Tutapona. They gave us hope to stay in this world.”
Nadia was an inspiration to us, at Tutapona. A child, only 9 years old, could so clearly see that the effects of her past were damaging her future, and the only way to overcome that was to dress as an adult and sneak into a Tutapona session.
Children shouldn’t have to sneak into an adult session to get help.
So, with Nadia and so many others like her in mind, we decided to develop a Child Focused Trauma Rehabilitation Program. It’s called the Heroes Journey and it’s all about helping kids like Nadia address their trauma a realize their potential through child specific activities and therapy tools.
“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor, I want to help people get better, like me.”
There are so many other children living with the haunting trauma of their past who, just like Nadia, can begin to hope and dream again. Will YOU join us in helping these Heroes start their Journey?
Donate at www.tutapona.com/heroes, and share Nadia’s story to show the world that there really is hope!
*Names have been changed to protect the individual.and her family