First Person: The South Sudanese refugee helping others through trauma |

Tiep lives and works in Omugo II, an extension of the Rhino Camp Rhino Settlement, which is home to 43,000 refugees from South Sudan.

After receiving advice from Spotlight Initiativein a UN-EU partnership, she became a volunteer psychosocial support assistant for a Ugandan NGO, helping other women and children leave and rehabilitate. recovery from violent situations.

“Two things made me flee South Sudan: the war and my abusive husband. I live in Yei, South Sudan, and work for an organization that deals with cases of violence against women.

Life is fine, I have money and a place to live. I was even able to buy a car with my hard earned money. However, now I know that even if you have the resources, if you stress in your mind, you can go crazy.
My husband used to hit me. He is a soldier and will threaten to shoot me. Sometimes, I sleep in the bushes. He feels that the children favor me, and he will be angry about it, but children know love and that is why they favor me. I decided to leave him.

I ran away in August 2017 and arrived in Uganda four days later, after a painful journey with my five children. I cannot bring food; Since the children were small, I had to hold them. We walked on the side road because driving on the main road would get us killed by the rebels. The rebels wanted to make me a wife because they knew I had money.

When we reached the border, we were met by the UN, who helped move us to the settlement

Rose Mary Tiep, a beneficiary of a United Nations-backed assistance program, at the Omugo II Refugee Settlement, Uganda.

Eva Sibanda / UN Women

Rose Mary Tiep, a beneficiary of a United Nations-backed assistance program, at the Omugo II Refugee Settlement, Uganda.

Adapting to new life and challenges

When I first went to Omugu II, I wanted to die. I am lonely, I will isolate myself and pity myself. In South Sudan, I did well.

As refugees, we experience discrimination. Sometimes, the host community will claim the land as their own. [Within the settlement, every refugee household is allocated some land to plant food.] Even if they harass you, you are not allowed to respond to them, or they react violently. The host community is outraged that we are using their land, but this is not their land, this is God’s land. The host community speaks Lugbara, so we couldn’t communicate.

Psychosocial counseling session [with TPO Uganda, an implementing partner of UN Women] helped me a lot. I can support my children now. Thanks to the psychosocial support I received, I was able to be a better mother.

Even when the counseling sessions are over, I have mobilized groups of women and we will hold discussions. I transferred the knowledge I gained to the community – I continued the work I left behind in South Sudan. I have chosen to apply as a Volunteer Psychosocial Assistant (VPA) with TPO Uganda.

With the confidence gained, I now help families experiencing violence and I make referrals to partners, the police and daycare, if needed.

Return it forward

We provide psychosocial support to orphans and I have learned to identify instances of gender-based violence. I often ask questions to women, using my own life experience as an example.

Volunteer training has changed me and I am now recognized in the community. I have changed the lives of community members who have experienced violence and I have been enrolled as a representative of women in the Omugo community. I feel confident and comfortable in my work.

I wish my children could grow up somewhere else, and not in one place. I want to make sure that they study, go to school and get a job. One day I will be old, I want to prepare them for the future”.

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