Helen and her family lived in a camp for internally displaced people where they depended on a fraction of food assistance, hardly enough to feed the family of nine children, living on a small portion of land in Northern Uganda, with all their children out of school.

Helen was troubled by the life her family lived; in tattered clothes, while her children looked up to her for survival. The couple had lived in joy until things began to change while in the camp. Violence became a daily occurrence with several episodes whenever Simon, Helen’s husband got drunk.

“One night, Simon returned home late and started to fight me in our one-roomed house we shared with the children. This time, he kicked me right on my chest until there was a bone fracture. My mother, who lived in the same camp, took me for medical attention.”

The injury has since affected Helen’s ability to engage in tasks such as digging and carrying water from the well.


How I survived

After the war ended, Helen and her family returned to their home in Atede village in Pader District where they continued to live in violence. She recalled the distressing events she witnessed during the war and all these caused her to live in constant fear, affecting her health and productivity.

Through a friend, Helen heard about AVSI’s counselling sessions conducted in groups in her village, and she joined for help. 

“The support I and several others received from this group has paid off, I feel a lot of relief,” says Helen. My husband is now responsible and loving. We find joy in each other. We now do things together.”

In the beginning Simon did not want Helen to join the group meetings, but every time Helen returned home, she shared with him what she had learnt, and day by day, he grasped the advice and gradually Helen began to see change in her husband also.

The middle-aged couple received financial literacy training in their savings group of 30 members, and have since ventured in cultivating their land, goat, poultry and cattle rearing from their savings and borrowings.

Simon Nyeko, 51 is Helen’s husband; he has lived to witness the effects of counselling. “My wife constantly talked to me about the things she learnt from the meetings. I now work hard to provide for my family. Our home is peaceful,” says Simon.


Group counselling sessions brought relief to Helen, improved her relationship with her husband and allowed them to venture together into cultivating their land, goat, poultry and cattle rearing from their savings and borrowings.