Prossy is a 30-year-old South Sudanese woman who fled to Uganda with her four children to escape the civil war at home. Her husband had traveled ahead and awaited their arrival in the Palabek refugee settlement in northern Uganda. The journey was long and arduous. During their months in transit, Prossy dreamed of the moment when she would reunite with her husband the children would finally be safe and secure.
Things did not work out as planned. When Prossy eventually reached Palabek, she discovered that her husband had taken on two additional wives. “I was very sad and hopeless,” she says of that time, “I kept wondering why my husband would do this after everything we had gone through just to reconnect with him.”
She grew severely depressed and began making plans to end her life. But, before she could follow through, a group of local women overheard her crying in her home and came to her aid, causing her to rethink her plans.
A few days later, Vicky, a StrongMinds volunteer Peer Facilitator, came through the settlement to conduct mental health outreach. She gathered the women to talk about depression, its signs and symptoms, and how it could be treated through therapy. Prossy related to the symptoms Vicky described and agreed to join a StrongMinds therapy group.
Right away, Prossy felt at home within the group, forming easy friendships with other members. She appreciated the structure the sessions gave to her week. “It gave me something to do, something to look forward to.”
Over the ensuing weeks, Prossy learned positive coping techniques, including how to improve her communication skills and how to reframe her challenges in a more self-affirming light. “I used to quarrel and fight often, but lately, I do none of that. I no longer talk to myself like I used to. I feel good about myself and am no longer depressed.” Once her mood improved, she took better care of herself and her children. “I used to be so stressed and thin back then, but look at me now…I look better, stress-free, and relaxed.”
Therapy helped Prossy regain her mental health, confidence, and sense of self-worth. It also gave her a new group of friends, including Vicky, who continues to check up on her. “I made a friend in Vicky. I encouraging StrongMinds to reach out to more women in the settlement so that they can also undergo the life change I went through.”2