Hearing hope in refugee camps

Distributing pre-loaded digital audio players in refugee camps is bringing healing, hope and even saving lives as food rations are cut and stress soars due to the pandemic.

Sam Malish

One mother went from feeling suicidal to being determined to carry on, thanks to the recorded trauma healing sessions featured on the players provided by local partner Samuel Malish and his colleagues.

Sam’s focus is on children’s ministry with mission organisation ACROSS, currently working with local churches in northern Uganda’s refugee camps, packed with people who have fled violence in South Sudan.

The digital audio players (DAPs) come pre-loaded with holistic transformational messages including sermons, teaching on trauma healing, talks on parenting strategies and Bible teaching specifically for children.

The DAPs are having a huge impact beyond people’s immediate physical needs in a situation of growing stress and food insecurity.

The coronavirus pandemic has made life even harder in the refugee camps. Food rations from the UN have been cut due to lack of funds, and while refugees would like to grow crops to supplement these meagre rations, generally the camps are in rocky places where there is little fertile land.

As food prices have shot up, even having money won’t necessarily keep hunger at bay. Increased stress in the refugee camps has also led to more drinking which in turn has led to more domestic violence. 

Children’s ministry workers connecting with children in one of the refugee camps (before lockdown).

Believers in the camps can’t meet together without risking arrest because of social distancing rules, and church leaders despair over not being able to bring comfort and encouragement to their congregations at this time.

Sam and those he works with do not have the necessary funding to be able to provide food parcels. What they have been able to provide, however, is the DAPs, which are spreading messages of hope and practical help through the refugee camps.

Sam and the team are hearing stories of real change as a result. A refugee in her 50s who was planning to quietly divorce her husband was inspired and encouraged when she listened to the trauma healing messages recorded on one of these DAPs. Her relationship with her husband improved significantly and she changed her mind about divorcing him.

New Hope trauma healing group members after training.

Another refugee in one of the camps who was given a DAP shared that she had been going through difficult times, as her son had attempted to commit suicide several times. She was ready to commit suicide as well if her son succeeded.

But after listening to the trauma healing sessions and the story of Joseph in the Bible, she was encouraged and decided to carry on, no matter what.

She says she is relieved of her pain and her relationships have improved. Her hatred towards others is gone, and she has changed her attitude to be more loving and understanding of her children, in turn changing her children’s behaviour. Now, they even do family devotions together.

Published 10 July 2020

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