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Learning from Workshops in Northern Uganda

Chuck Esser and I recently led several workshops in Northern Uganda. I’d like to share some of what I learned.

The experience expanded my vision of the contexts RC can grow in. People here are sharing RC in ways that many of us are familiar with—among new refugees in a city, naturalized in a school community, in family and social relationships. But RC is also being taught in a Pentecostal church community, in refugee camps, and in a network of subsistence farming villages.

I saw that people can easily begin healing from war. There have been wars and armed conflicts in this region for over forty years. It was an honor to be present at a lunchtime topic group on war led by a man from South Sudan. There was an hour of deep discharge. Many people were able to face their personal war trauma for the first time.

I learned how RC can strengthen an entire rural community. I asked a man who leads a mostly young adult group in the network of farming villages how RC was impacting his community. He spoke of a reduction in alcoholism and the healing of rifts between groups of neighbors.

I was reminded of the irony of engaging with RC’s liberating messages in English when English is the language of colonial oppression. I was glad for the RC practice of translating even when everyone can speak and understand English. It was good to hear some of the many different languages that are spoken in this part of East Africa. I saw how slowing down the pace is helpful when people are listening to a second language—even as I noticed my Western-based patterns of impatience at the time it took. At one point I supported a local leader to lead in her own language for half an hour. I saw the impact of her communication. She had invited some of her high school students to the workshop, and up until that point they had only heard her speak English. They were thrilled to hear her speak in their common mother tongue.

In a class on early sexual memories, people were struggling to bring to mind an early memory. I suggested that they focus on what they had already absorbed about sex and closeness by the time they started school. It worked well.

I was reminded of the power of self-appreciation.

I was reminded of how powerful “special time” can be. It brought together a mixed group of people from ages thirteen to seventy—some very experienced, some very new.

It was useful to discharge on having more privilege and “more than enough” in comparison with the people at these workshops.

I was heartened by people’s determination, commitment, power, and love.

Pamela Haines

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion
 list for RC Community members

(Present Time 199, April 2020)

Last modified: 2020-04-25 00:23:46+00