Empower the Vulnerable
During the devastating civil war in Uganda, Christine lost her family and her joy of living. She found help through the Refugee Law Project which supports her long way to recovery.
"I can't explain how I survived this long without committing suicide. I was angry, desperately in pain and experiencing stigma that is unimaginable" reports Christine, one of the thousands of victims of Uganda's mostly forgotten civil war that raged in the north of the country from the mid-1980s until 2006. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) devastated the countryside and more than 1.7 million people in the North became displaced in their own country.
Christine lost everything
In 1991, President Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) hunted rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Pader district in northern Uganda. During this time, many innocent civilians were suspected to hide or support the rebels. In Christine's village, the soldiers also raided her house. After killing her husband, she and her baby daughter were beaten. Christine lost consciousness and was later saved by other villagers who had escaped into the bush, but her baby did not survive. After the attack, Christine was left with a deep dent in her temple and a large swelling that swallowed up her right eye. In one night she had lost everything: Her family, her health and every joy of living.
In constant pain and partially blind, she tried for years to get support from the government or NGO health facilities, all to no avail. As if that was not enough, her injuries also caused stigma and exclusion from her community. "Wherever I went, people around could not stop looking at my abnormally swollen face. I looked like a ghost and this depressed me all the time".
She found help
After nearly 25 years, she finally found tangible support through Refugee Law Project (RLP). RLP is a Ugandan NGO that aims to empower the most vulnerable groups in society - asylum seekers, refugees, deportees, the internally displaced and poor host communities in Uganda - to help them enjoy their human rights and lead dignified lives. RLP not only paid for corrective surgery of Christine's eye, but also provided continuous post-surgery counseling and - crucial for Christine - psychosocial support. Treating the traumas of war victims is an important pillar of RLP's approach to help the victims in their recovery.
"With my new look, I now feel accepted and can associate freely with my family and the community members. The constant pain has gone. My two eyes can see properly", Christine testifies with a smile on her face. She is now strong enough to care for herself and has even taken in some orphans who have no one to care for them. But although her wounds are healing, Christine will never forget the nightmare she has lived through.
Refugee Law Project (RLP)
RLP's work is supported with funds from the "Democratic Governance Facility - DGF". DGF is a programme supported by eight development partners (Austria, Denmark, Netherlands, Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Ireland and the EU) strengthening human rights and good governance in Uganda. In 2017, the EU delegated the management of its DGF-funding contribution (7.5 million Euros) to the Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The programme currently supports more than 70 partners in the country, most of which are civil society organisations. However, strategic government institutions such as the Ugandan Human Rights Constitution, the Equal Opportunity Commission and others are partners as well.