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Trauma healing in South Sudan

Annette St-Amour IHM

Twenty-two years of war has left a deep footprint of wound on the people of South Sudan. On top of that, dashing the hopes for desperately needed development in the country, the conflict that broke out in December 2013 has left four states with more than 80,000 people in UN camps in need of protection as well as thousands of internally displaced persons. Along with the people, the priests and religious of the Malakal diocese had to be evacuated or flee from their churches into the bush for weeks before they could come to safety. Most of them are now in the capital, Juba, waiting to return to their people. Even though the conflict has slowed during the rainy season, due to impassable roads, people have not been able to restore their homes and towns.

In response to their need, Catholic Relief Services approached Solidarity with South Sudan to partner with them in offering a Trauma-Healing Workshop. Sr Cathy Arata SSND began and Sr Annette St-Amour IHM continued to organize the workshop for 22-26 September in Juba given by Paul Boyle, former priest of the Malakal diocese. It was a wonderful opportunity for healing offered to the priests and religious, so that in coming to healing themselves, they could better offer support and care to their people. As soon as the workshop ended, plans were made by several of the participants to return to the Malakal diocese for a few weeks at a time to return to their broken places of ministry and offer pastoral care for wounded people of the areas. In addition, two Solidarity members who had previously been trained in the Capacitar Trauma Healing experience Sr Barbara Paleczny SSND and Fr Mike Bassano MM went to the parish of Bor with the exiled parish priest to offer healing to an ecumenical group.