Photo: Alan Hood
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Pain and Paper

Bwenge Ndeshibire (en-desh-ib-EAR-eh), a man from the Tembo language group, attended the trauma healing workshop last March in Goma, DRC. Like other participants, he comes from an area of Eastern Congo that continues to experience frequent violence.

“All of us, the Tembo people, are traumatized,” Ndeshibire said, speaking through an interpreter.

“Our territory has become like a battlefield, daily.”

During the workshop, Ndeshibire began to see how his own trauma had affected him.

“I had needs, or hurts, inside myself,” he reflects, “but I didn’t know how to express them. In our way of thinking, in our culture, you just behave as though there’s nothing wrong with you.

“I even had the idea that God wasn’t interested in me anymore.”

The Tembo man says the workshop also helped him understand that the anger he felt inside was a normal response to loss.

“I tried to behave as though I’d solved my anger, to sort of ‘jump over’ it, instead of really dealing with it from the bottom of my heart.

“But during the workshop, they showed us all the steps (of grief) to walk through, until you come to the step where you can start life again.”

That process included an exercise involving a cross, as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice. The participants wrote down, on slips of paper, experiences that had wounded them. Then, they took their notes with them and stood before the cross.

“We nailed them there,” says Ndeshibire, “and it was like we could take off our bruises and give them literally to Jesus . . . and lift them off of us and onto Him.”

That healing experience and others like it has Ndeshibire excited about sharing the workshop materials with his people.

“Looking at our region, we would like to train 50, maybe 80 people, within the Church . . . so they can help others.

“This workshop has really been like medicine for us.”

                                                                        •••••

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Faces of Trauma

A photo essay by Alan Hood.