Mending the Soul Ministries conducted trauma healing training for some of our most trusted and trained cadres in Kasese Uganda From May 1 to 7 2021. These trainers had experienced the worst forms of trauma due to increase in violence and abuse due to ongoing war in the Eastern part of the DRC Congo. Participants were equipped with skills and strategies in Self-care, counseling skills and tactics, deep biblical teachings on personal and community laments, Skills of dealing with the effects of trauma such as nightmares, anger, anxiety, and powerlessness. They were also helped to understand the importance of spiritual refreshment and rest. When MTS conducted the teachings in Kasese little did we know God had inspired us to equip our partners for a disaster that was in offing a few weeks after our training. The training was very timely.
On Saturday 22 of May 2021 at around 12:00 am people saw big smoke and fire in the sky around mountain Nyiragongo. The active volcanic mountain near the city of Goma had erupted. According to UNICEF 15 people lost their lives, more than 500 homes destroyed by the lava, 5000 people crossed over to Rwanda for safety while 25000 people fled to the western part of Goma city in a town of the Kunde people called SAKE.
The city of Goma was spared to a big extend by the destruction of the lava compared to the last eruption that was witnessed in the year 2002. The volcano stopped flowing and so is the destruction but it’s only the start of handling the effects of the trauma caused by this disaster that affected a city of more than 2 million dwellers. The villages closer to the volcano, experienced the most horrific day on Sunday as the whole day was marked by grief, anxiety, and fear. Most of the people were confused and looked very traumatized and uncertainty was all over their faces. People lost their houses and even animals to the extreme heat of the Lava.
Jean Pasteur Katavo our MTS coordinator for the Congo had to flee at night with the entire family for fear of the danger of the volcano. I watched him as his family walking on foot at night to safer location via our MTS what up group formed during the training in Kasese.
“I couldn’t sleep, I had to take my family to Sake, west of Goma for safety, we walked for a distance of more than 20kms on foot to reach a place of safety. Nyiragongo lava is versatile, it can cover the entire city in just one day. I am so happy and relieved we are safe. Although we lost some people the destruction was not as bad as we had anticipated. Thanks, friends, for your prayers. This time people got to know early and you prayed for us.”Pastor Jacques Eden, mission Goma
Our 8 team members who came from Goma were right in the middle of the entire situation. Albert, an assistant orthopedic surgeon support by MTS, was in the hospital with 8 patients who couldn’t even walk because of the surgery. The government had predicted that the lava would pass through heal Africa the hospital where he worked from. It was traumatizing to see in pictures and video how the people who couldn’t walk because their legs had been either amputated or had metals in them.
Using the skills, they learned in our MTS training in KASESE our team has already formed small groups and they have started helping with counseling people who have lost their beloved ones, lost things or people who are traumatized.
Thank you, MTS, for equipping our master trainers to prepare for such situations like what happened. The soldiers are on the ground helping the wounded, the ones who have lost their loved ones, the ones who are living in fear etc. they need resources to help out effectively. Start with prayer, then we need more work books and a few other basic needs like food and shelter. Let’s pray that we can be a good support to this people.
Jumah Wangira Patrick
Mending the Soul Africa Director