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Uganda: South Sudanese Refugees in Northern Uganda Receive Training

AMECEA Small Christian Community (SCC) Training

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By Pamela Adinda, AMECEA Online News – August 17, 2018

The sound of guns, the trauma of witnessing the deaths of people known to him and the fear that his life and that of his young family was in danger made Ben Ojuk flee from his home in Torit, South Sudan to Northern Uganda where he found refuge in Lamwo District at Palabek Refugees Settlement Camp which is in the Archdiocese of Gulu. Ojuk is among the 38 participants of AMECEA Small Christian Community (SCC) Training of Trainers workshop.

The 38 participants were drawn from four settlements namely Adjumani (Adjumani District), Bidibidi (Yumbe District), Palorinya (Moyo District) and Palabek (Lamwo District). Apart from Palabek Settlement which is in Gulu Archdiocese, Adjumani, Bidibidi, and Palorinya Settlements are all in Arua Diocese.

According to Rev. Fr. Joseph Healey, a Maryknoll Missionary who led the team of facilitators, this was the first time AMECEA SCC training team conducted a full training whereby the trainees received both facilitation and leadership skills.

This particular training is unique because of the venue, which is the refugee’s settlements, and also the fact that we are offering the full training, not just what is based on the handbook manual,” Fr. Healey said. Previously the training focused on Small Christian Community facilitations skills using the methodology that is provided in the AMECEA Small Christian Community Training Handbook for facilitators, published in May 2017. The trainees are usually taken through the seven steps of the LUMKO Method of facilitating SCC Meetings. Those trained are therefore required to train others in their parishes thereby promoting SCCs as a model of evangelization at the grassroots level.

The workshop, which was previously set to take place in the Archdiocese of Gulu, was however conducted at Lodonga Spiritual Center in Arua Diocese because the majority of refugee settlement camps are in Arua, including Bidibidi settlement, which is home to approximately 270,000 refugees from South Sudan. Bidibidi Refugees settlement is one of the largest in the world.

The training officially began on 9th August by Eucharistic celebration, which was led by Most Rev. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu and Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference, and ended on August 16 with issuing of certificates to the participants. Facilitation of the training was coordinated by the AMECEA Small Christian Communities Training Team and the theme for the training was Yes Peace is Possible.

“We create the path by walking,” Fr. Healey told the participants, and based on that assertion, each evening the groups had the opportunity to conduct the SCC meetings among themselves using the Seven Steps of LUMKO Method of conducting SCC meeting.

Fr. Healey explained that so far, five Bishop’s Conferences that wanted a national workshop have benefited from the training. These include Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia and South Sudan. Tanzanian Bishops Conference wanted a metropolitan workshop, which is based on ecclesiastical provinces, owing to the vast nature of the conference. Mwanza Ecclesiastical Province, which is the lake zone comprising of eight dioceses around Lake Victoria, has already received the training.

“The Priest who was in charge of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference Pastoral Department and who was organizing the grounds for the workshop in Dodoma died and the plan was put on hold. Now, if the new pastoral coordinator in Dar-es-Salaam says come back to Tanzania, we are ready to do so on request,” Fr. Healey explained.

Uganda also wanted a metropolitan workshop, and so, Tororo Ecclesiastical Province, which comprises of Archdiocese of Tororo and Dioceses of Jinja, Moroto, Kotido, and Soroti was the first to receive the training. Gulu is the second Ecclesiastical Province to receive the training; however, following consultation with Archbishop Odama, the training is being conducted to the refugees.

“The proposal from Archbishop Odama was to have one for the Gulu Metropolitan, but not the normal workshop in the parishes but one in the refugees’ camp. So, this is a brand-new idea. We are creating a path by walking and the whole idea is to follow the local contact, and priorities at the local level,” Fr. Healey offered.

So far, five national and two metropolitan workshops have been conducted. Two of the AMECEA Countries (Eritrea and Sudan North) where workshops could not be organized owing to the critical situations there have however benefited by having key representatives given a scholarship to attend the LUMKO Course in Kenya. This means that all the nine AMECEA Countries have been covered. The unfinished metropolitans of Tanzania and Uganda will be covered on request from the conferences.

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