Terra Renaissance facilitates the reintegration of former child soldiers in the Gulu district - a key pillar of peacebuilding to prevent the resumption of violence. It provides vocational training, basic education and peace education to ex-combatants and the community at large. Terra Renaissance also extends micro-finance and credit facilities to ex-combatants and the poor in their community.
It was established in Northern Uganda in 2006 when a number of service providing organizations, both local and international left the region citing cessation of hostilities between the LRA and the Government of Uganda to be the reason for ending service provision. Given this, Terra Renaissance has elected to provide essential services focusing on young people’s education, health, wealth and entrepreneurship skills to address over dependency whilst encouraging self-reliance.Terra Renaissance provides support aimed at the psychosocial wellbeing of the beneficiaries by offering individual & group counseling, peace building lectures and the activities of dance, drama and music. They also support the process of traditional cleansing in the context of Acholi Traditional customs and/or practices for specific cases only. This is done to heal the minds of the victims and/or the Formerly Abducted Persons that have experienced trauma and excesses of war experiences.
The main problems found are worries about family and future, lack of assets, sleeping problems and psychosomatic problems; to a lesser extent severe problems such as nightmares, hallucinations and suicidal ideas are always reported. They have found that lots of these minor factors causing distress can be properly addressed by guidance and counseling within Terra Renaissance, without clinical interference. Additionally, the school can serve as a good location for screening of the more severe problems, and referral when specialised care is needed. Group counseling is given once a month, in separate groups for boys and girls. Furthermore, home visits are done to check the living condition of the students and their relationship with the neighbours.
A course in ‘Peace Education’ is also offered to change the attitudes of the youth on war-related issues, such as violence. It is focused on peace building, in which forgiveness and reconciliation with the non abductees and stigmatisation are essential topics. Traditional story-telling is used during this course to give insights about these issues. More knowledge about traditions is gained during the course ‘Root and Shoot’, where students learn about traditional music, dances and drama.
The psychosocial aspect of Terra Renaissance helped at facilitating emotional healing and resilience within individuals, families, and communities. This effort helped to enable people seriously injured and affected by the war to recover emotionally from the impact of war and see a possible future and way forward. The program empowered the individuals and their communities to tackle emotional reactions and also create community cohesion that is essential for adaptation for victims with lifetime injuries (mutilations, amputations, etc.).
Our Counselors/Helpers are always present to work with beneficiaries, their families and communities to help and provide each beneficiary with basic counseling services. Even in cases where we cannot provide the necessary medical support, we always strive to provide counseling support. For those that we screen and find are in need of medical support that we can provide, we provide additional counseling services to the beneficiaries and their family members to ease their fears and reassure beneficiaries and their families.