Pulled back from the edge

Pulled back from the edge

Suddenly, gunfire was all around. Betty took the children by the hand and ran. What else could she do?

Photo: Betty Kigeni, currently a resident of Bidibidi 2 refugee camp in northern Uganda

After a desperate start to an unexpected journey, Betty eventually found peace, healing and hope in a refugee camp in northern Uganda.

by Camilla Lloyd, who interviewed Betty in northern Uganda in October 2023

Back home in Lainya county, South Sudan, Betty Kigeni used to help her brother look after his children, who had already lost their mother.

When the war came to their village, they didn’t have time to plan their escape.

Very quickly, gunfire was all around them. Taking the children by the hand and leaving everything else behind, she and her brother ran.

As he looked back, Betty’s brother was shot down.

What could Betty do? For the sake of the children, she had to keep running. They ran all the way to the border with Uganda, where they were taken to Bidibidi refugee camp.

They were safe now, but Betty’s brother, and the children’s father, was gone forever.

Wasting away through bitterness

Betty had left South Sudan, but what had happened there stayed with her.

She was safe in a refugee camp, but she couldn’t move on from the fact that her brother had been killed. Her emotional pain caused her chest pain and made her not want to eat.

Over time, she became very thin, wasting away through bitterness towards those who had killed her brother.

Like many others in the refugee camp, she couldn’t see a way through her pain, and seriously considered suicide.

Healing through forgiveness

A ray of hope came in the shape of a small black device, about the size of a phone, which someone handed her one day.

This, she discovered, was a digital audio player (DAP), and it played Bible stories such as the story of Joseph being betrayed by his brothers but later forgiving them. This story particularly resonated with her.

Betty was also invited to a trauma healing group, where she could open up and talk about her trauma when she was ready.

Gradually, Betty’s life started to change.

Through meeting Jesus, spending time in God’s Word, sharing with others and actively working at forgiveness, she has found God’s healing and now has peace in her heart.

She has even been able to forgive those who killed her brother, and others can see the difference in her. She started eating normally again and has returned to a healthy weight.

Without the trauma healing programme, Betty says she would not be alive today. “Because of this message of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, now I have hope.”

Now, she wants to share the hope of Jesus with others.

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