Sixteen-year-old Innocent is from Ajan Village, Lamola Parish, Odek Sub County in Omoro District. As a child, Innocent was a happy girl who dreamed of becoming a doctor and helping to support her mother who had sacrificed much for her school fees.
However, one day, on her way back from school, Innocent collapsed unconscious in a drainage ditch. All her friends ran away from her because they thought she was dead. Innocent continued to have seizures and she began to be stigmatized at school to the point where her mother withdrew her from studies.
She became a house girl in her own mother’s house taking care of her elder sister’s children and lost all her dreams and hopes in life. Under pressure from her family, her mother took her to witch doctors and traditional healers in their community, spending much money and assets, but in vain.
Innocent finally received help through USAID SAFE grantee THRIVEGulu, an organization which specializes in psychosocial support. With funding from USAID SAFE, THRIVE organized and conducted community psycho-education in Ajan village to increase mental health awareness and promote access to mental health services. During the session, Innocent’s situation came to THRIVE’s attention.
As a follow up, THRIVE took a mental health mobile clinic to the village, which led to Innocent’s first real medical exam. Through THRIVE, Innocent was diagnosed with epilepsy. THRIVE’s counselor met with the family and helped them to realize epilepsy can be treated with medication, and the patient can lead a normal and productive life.
Innocent’s mother was initially skeptical, because the witch doctor had told her that Innocent’s condition was incurable. But today Innocent has improved and has started school again.
Her mother is very happy to testify to the rest of the community: “I wasted a lot of money going to witch doctors. My child would have died since all of them failed but with the right treatment, now she is back in school. 2017 has started very well. I’ve never seen her falling since this year started, because I always encourage my daughter to take her medication as prescribed by the health workers. I also want to thank THRIVEGulu for giving us information about this strange disease and for bringing treatment up to Ajan village. I am very happy that my child has gone back to school and she is in primary five, I believe she will complete primary successfully”.
Many people in Innocent’s community had trouble in identifying mental health conditions and knowing where to seek help. But with USAID support, through THRIVEGulu, people like Innocent are being referred for life-changing treatment.
Combating the psycho-social effects of the two decade-long LRA insurgency is just one of a number of outcomes made possible by the USAID Supporting Access to Justice, Fostering Equity and Peace (SAFE) Program. For more about the SAFE Program, visit us online at: www.safeprogram.ug.