Northern Uganda - Broadcasting hope to thousands of child refugees during a pandemic

Published: 30 Apr 2020

Four Tutapona staff outside Adjumani Community Radio Station

When coronavirus reared its ugly head in East Africa, it became clear that ways of working in Adjumani Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda had to change. MAF partner, Tutapona - which provides trauma counselling to people affected by war – had to get creative about how to support child refugees…

Adjumani Refugee Camp in Northern Uganda houses over 240,000 refugees - more than half of them are children (source: Tutapona).

On the 3rd February - with the help of MAF transporting staff and resources - Tutapona launched its very first ‘play-led’ child refugee programme called Hero's Journey. It enables children to explore group therapy activities designed to heal their trauma of war and displacement.

Launch of Hero's Journey radio show

Given the interactive nature of this type of therapy, Tutapona had to rethink the programme –Hero's Journey radio show was born. Dennis Okot from Tutapona recalls how it all began:

‘When coronavirus started to rapidly spread worldwide, we stopped our in-person operations, as an outbreak in a refugee settlement would be devastating. A situation like this is also filled with anxiety and uncertainty and can become a trigger for an already vulnerable and traumatised population.

These extraordinary times pushed us into a quick, creative solution to continue to reach these kids in a safe way. That’s how Hero's Journey hit the airwaves!’

Issa is a Heroes' Journey Facilitator and former child soldier

Hero's Journey now available in other languages

‘Our original two-week, play-based trauma care and mental health programme has been adapted into seven 30-minute radio shows. They are being aired on community radio to support both young refugees and the local youth of the area, with an additional focus on addressing the adversity caused by coronavirus.

The radio series includes relaxation techniques and stories, which help to instill courage, resilience and hope during these challenging times. The episodes are currently airing in English every Thursday evening, so that as soon as the curfew starts, people can tune in and listen with their children.

We’re currently working on recordings in other languages and our hope is that once we’re well established in Adjumani, we will expand our broadcasting to other settlements in Uganda and East Africa.

We’re thankful for the support MAF has provided including transporting the materials to get this programme up and running.

Not only have our staff had the amazing opportunity to fly across Uganda in a MAF plane, but they’ve also had the opportunity to be heard across the airwaves!’