Saturday, December 27, 2014

Behind the Scenes...

Recently I had the privilege of travelling with Tutapona up into North Uganda on the border of South Sudan. There, Tutapona is working alongside the UN, LWF and Samaritans Purse to bring healing and hope to the 92,000 refugees that currently call the camp home. When the war in South Sudan broke out in early December 2013 thousands fled to Adjumani. Tim and I arrived there about a month after the conflict had erupted and walked into a scene that looked like the movie Blood Diamond. Almost one year on, I went back to see how things have progressed and to hear the testimonies of those receiving trauma counselling. This is what I saw this time around.

Adjumani Food Gathering area BEFORE
Adjumani Food Gathering area AFTER

Arrival area BEFORE
Arrival area AFTER
Adjumani Reception Center BEFORE
Adjumani Reception Center AFTER

South Sudanese refugees listen to the Tutapona staff running 'Empower'  - a trauma counselling program for victims of war

South Sudanese refugees listen to the Tutapona staff running 'Empower'  - a trauma counselling program for victims of war
"My name is Sophie and I don’t know how old I am. I think I am around 60 or 70. I am from South Sudan. I’ve seen a lot in my life. I have lived through two wars, I’ve seen people been killed solely based on their ethnic background, I’ve seen people starving and crying every day. Hunger, sickness and the effects of war on children with no parents.

 Our livelihood was based on cows and I had cattle.  It was a good life for me as I could cultivate using my hands. However this was all taken by the bandits and raiders after they shot me in late 2013. My husband was also killed in 2012 from the rebels when they came to our village. This hurt me deeply as I no longer had anybody near me.
After I was shot I moved onto my knees and went into a hiding place in the bush. It was disturbing to see a lot of people on the ground and people so confused by what had just happened. I had three children at that time but one died.  I moved to this refugee settlement in March 2014.

For me, trauma is a past event like the death of your husband or children. Personally I thought about  suicide but that lessened after Tutapona came. What Tutapona is doing for us is helping us to have emotional strength and to be able to forgive those who hurt us. I have allowed in my heart to forgive those that hurt me. The program started by asking our personal stories, then after that it went on to tell us what is trauma and then they taught us different ways of overcoming it.  The Tutapona team taught us is it best to divert attention by doing things like playing cards with friends. It is a worthy program. If there is a way to support this program, I advocate for it to be supported to reach more people.

Since Tutapona came to us I’ve noticed a difference. We were so depressed and we felt so heavy. Personally after the program I felt light and free. Before the program I was feeling lonely, and after that I felt comforted. Too many people like me exist and they need the same help. If the Tutapona team can come back a lot of people are still in need of that. I would like to tell the people of the world to extend their hand to those that are suffering. 

You can donate to the work that Tutapona does by visiting
A $50 donation will enable someone like Sophie to go through a trauma counselling course.

Helen xo

Monday, December 22, 2014

End of year Update from the Mansons

Dear blog readers,

We hope you have some exciting plans for the holiday season.
We'll be spending Christmas at our 'home' here in Uganda before heading to our other 'home', New Zealand for some time.

Thank you for being interested in what we’re doing over here and for praying for us this past year. We both think the year has been a success and that our time here with Tutapona has been worthwhile. We have felt so privileged to be part of an organisation that is helping psychologically traumatised people heal from their pasts and regain hope for the future. The scale of the organisation has more than doubled since January, largely because of two new partnerships we've entered into. We’ve gone from 6 staff to 18 staff in 1 year!  About 5,000 people have been through our trauma counselling program across the four locations. These attendees have come from some of the most brutal conflicts in modern history such as the ongoing wars in the DRC and South Sudan and past conflicts in Rwanda (1994) and Northern Uganda (1987-2007). 
We look forward to seeing how God will strengthen the bonds we have with this organisation in the years to come!

Helen has also had the privilege of continuing her relationship with her beloved TEAR Fund/Compassion and has been to South Africa and Ethiopia for them on photography trips as well as working with them on projects throughout the year as a contractor. 

Of course thrown into the mix has been the arrival of our beautiful daughter Hope and we couldn't be more grateful for her. She has turned a busy year into a chaotic one but we wouldn't have it any other way. Trying to adopt in a third world country has been the biggest challenge we've faced in our lives to date and we are beyond excited to introduce her to you when we get back. The full process is a three year one and one that we are absolutely committed to seeing through to it's final completion here in Uganda. 

Once again, thank you so much for caring about us and being part of Tutapona’s work in helping some of the world’s most traumatised people.

Love Tim, Helen and Hope

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Why missionaries can never go home again...

Read this blog the other day - it resonated well.

Refugee boys watch the sun set whilst flying kites together in Nakivale Refugee Settlement

When a new missionary first gets to the mission field, it is obvious where home is.