Uganda | Center for Victims of Torture


Healing in Northern Uganda

In Gulu, CVT Uganda extends rehabilitative care to survivors of torture who were affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict, works with mental health counselors in the region with ongoing intensive training and supervision, and mentors graduate students of psychology through a partnership with Makerere University in Kampala.

From 1986 to the height of Uganda’s war in 2006, the LRA battled government troops and targeted civilians in local communities. LRA rebels murdered, mutilated and tortured individuals. Children were also abducted and recruited as soldiers, cooks and sex slaves. For those who escaped and those who sought safety, close to 2 million people moved into camps for internally displaced persons. The conflict had terrible effects on survivors, many of whom still suffer from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

CVT Uganda is focused in three core areas: extending mental health care, delivering training and supervision for local counseling professionals, and mentoring psychology graduate students.

CVT extends rehabilitative care to survivors of torture and war atrocities committed during the war inflicted by the LRA in northern Uganda. CVT hires members of the local community as psychosocial counselors. Counselors are then provided with intensive training and supervision so they can provide care directly to survivors in Uganda, many of whom tells stories of abductions, rape, and forced servitude. More than two-thirds of the survivors in the counseling groups are women, who were frequently marginalized after their torture. Under CVT’s care, survivors of torture are able to rebuild their lives and begin to reconnect with their communities.

CVT provides ongoing training and support for counselors at partner organizations. CVT began its work in Uganda in 2009, starting with an initiative to enhance the ability of local organizations to provide healing services. CVT continues to work with local mental health counselors to help build their capacity to extend care to those who survived the LRA conflict. These mental health counselors are also able to obtain a certificate through Makerere University, following the completion of a year-long training curriculum and supervision sessions.

CVT mentors psychology students. CVT has established a close relationship with the Makerere University Department of Psychology in Kampala. To build the skills of upcoming psychologists, CVT has worked with masters-level psychology students as interns.

Expansion, 2018-20: Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement
For two years, starting in 2018, CVT extended rehabilitative care to South Sudanese refugee trauma and torture survivors in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Northern Uganda. CVT offered both psychological first aid to those in need of immediate stabilization and 10-week group counseling sessions for adults who benefited from longer-term mental health care. The team also conducted staff care workshops for humanitarian workers to improve and maintain staff effectiveness and decrease risk of burnout and secondary traumatization.


CVT Uganda is also funded by Together Women Rise. Together Women Rise is a powerful community of women and allies dedicated to global gender equality. We have hundreds of local chapters across the U.S. Members come together to learn about and advocate for gender equality issues, give grants to organizations that empower women and girls in low-income countries, and build community to forge meaningful connections that increase our strength and collective impact.






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