Yosefi engaging in gardening and reading activities, after working on his psychosocial wellbeing. | © HI
In Uganda, with funding from ECHO, HI is providing refugees who have experienced traumatic events with physical rehabilitation and mental health and psychosocial support.
After an accident, Yofesi (not his real name) suffered from memory loss and speech difficulties. After first providing him with physical rehabilitation sessions, HI enrolled him in a psychosocial and mental health support group. Yofesi has since made a lot of progress and can now express himself more easily.
After a motorcycle accident, Yofesi spent a long time in a coma at Mulago Hospital. He was left with memory loss, speech difficulties and a physical disability. He could not remember anything, including his name, his wife or his children. People in the community thought he had lost his mind and avoided him.
“What hurt me is that even my children feared me because of the way I looked and sounded. They could hardly understand what I was saying.”
Unable to communicate like before, Yofesi felt useless. One day, he was taken to HI for a physiotherapy session and crutches to help him get around. This was when he discovered the group psychosocial therapy sessions run by HI.
When Ahabwe Violah, an HI psychosocial worker in Kyaka refugee camp, met Yofesi, communicating with him was difficult because of his speech problems. Taking her time to make sure they understood each other, she patiently conducted an assessment that qualified him automatically for psychosocial and mental health support sessions.
“I enrolled Yofesi in the men’s group and he took part in five weeks of group therapy. During the sessions, I encouraged him to speak and he tried really hard to participate in the group. I also encouraged him to do more of the things that interested him, socialise with other people and his family members and find an activity to do,” explained Ahabwe Violah.
At the end of the sessions, when she conducted the post-therapy assessment, Yofesi’s speech and memory had improved.
“Being in a group helped me to socialise with people, learn the days of the week – which used to be difficult before the sessions – and get my memory back,” explains Yofesi.
He now remembers the names of his wife and children. He has also developed a walking routine that is helping him. He has made friends through the group and he is also doing gardening at home to stay busy. And he can now express himself more clearly.
Yofesi is yet not fully recovered, but he is very pleased with the progress he has made thanks to the psychosocial and mental health support sessions.