WHY IT MATTERS
Agago is David’s home, and his story is entrancing: David narrowly escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2004 by hiding in a Ugandan government military convoy and living off of the cassava roots stuffed into his pockets. The journey took three days as he traveled to safety to his uncle in Kampala. The Kony insurgency plunged northern Uganda into civil war during the ’80s, ’90s, and early 2000s. Rebels pillaged, killed, mutilated, raped, and forced abducted children to become child soldiers. Children lucky enough to escape hid among the country’s beautiful large rocks until the rebels left.
The decades-long conflict in northern Uganda caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency resulted in untold suffering and thousands being displaced. The LRA is estimated to be responsible for the abduction anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 children and the displacement of over 2.5 million people across Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Estimates put the number of deaths to over 100,000 people.
Equally jarring, the forced displacement affected more than 1.7 million people from that region. The psychological toll and impact of the civil war has been many. Struggles range from trauma, divorce, dissolution of families, and neglect of children, to an inability to think clearly and produce food for themselves. While most of the 1.7 million people who lived in camps have since returned; however, recovery and development efforts have been insufficient. Access to basic health services is nonexistent, while inadequate health care infrastructure has left the population susceptible to disease.
A former study entitled, "Factors associated with the health status of internally displaced persons in northern Uganda" supported by the Wellcome Trust looking at the factors associated with the health status of internally displaced persons in northern Uganda revealed an extreme exposure to traumatic events. Over half of the 1,206 respondents met the symptom criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder, while over two-thirds met symptom criteria for depression. Additional studies that assessed the prevalence of common mental disorders among internally displaced persons purported similar numbers.
WE FIRMLY STAND BY THE ADAGE, “THERE IS NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH.” WE’RE RESURRECTING PEOPLE, AND WE ARE STARTING IN AGAGO DISTRICT, NORTHERN UGANDA.
Access to mental health care is a fundamental human right. It is not lower-level as often assumed in low-income settings. It is not luxury, nor is it discretionary - it is vital. Mental healthcare affords someone the basic tools to take better charge of one's needs and to live a purposeful life. If depression is present and not addressed, it affects other necessary life functions. Finemind's sweet sauce lies not when the individual is lifted, but the real transformation happens when the community is lifted, too.