The Uganda Project involved a deep dive into experimental trauma-informed art therapy sessions. These clinical interventions were conducted for research, analysis, and program development. All clinical trials were done in collaboration with local, embedded community organizers.
Uganda is considered the youngest country in the world with 50% of the population under the age of 15 years. For this reason, Uganda seemed to be a good place to work with underserved children.
84% of refugees in northern Uganda are women and children. Many of these children flee battle scenes barefoot, without food or money, and cross the border as unaccompanied minors.
Uganda has one of the world's most compassionate refugee policies, which grants at-risk migrants from it’s neighboring countries land to build a home and start new lives. But having a safe place to start all over is not enough. People also need a reason to go on living, after having lost everything. They need to heal and reconcile with the trauma and grief. And dislocation that fractures identity. They need hope. They need encouragement. And they need our respect and support.
Over time, art therapy projects such as this, along with face-to-face counseling and encouragement, help us emotionally reconcile with the trauma in our pasts.
Art making helps us acknowledge our power to transform the world before us. This can be an important lesson, especially for young people who may not have adequate structure in their upbringing due to the loss of parents or their home. They will need introspective tools to better understand themselves as self-defining and self-actualizing individuals as they grow up. It is about instilling personal agency and social reciprocity.