Mirem’s Story: Finding Peace with the River of Life

From 1994 to 2006, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict led to the torture and abuse of individuals across northern Uganda. For most survivors, psychological trauma remained unaddressed due to the lack of mental health resources, and still today, they struggle with depression, post-traumatic-stress symptoms, and anxiety. Fondation d’Harcourt has been partnering with The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) to provide specialized mental health trauma rehabilitation to survivors. 

The following is Mirem’s story:

I’ve had a lot of disturbing memories, memories of what happened in the war here in northern Uganda. I found out about CVT at a gathering. Counselors came to talk to us and did a sensitization workshop. They said they wanted to provide people with counseling sessions, and that anyone who was interested should come.

I wanted to get rid of those thoughts, those upsetting memories. The CVT counselors told me: “That should not be your life. We have a way out of that situation.”

So, I attended the sessions. One session was so good it changed my life: it’s called the River of Life. The counselors explained that life moves like a river – there are rough times and smooth times when it flows. They said to put a stone in the river for the difficult times, and a flower when it’s smooth. This touched me so much.

With the CVT counseling, I feel that I now have ways to take care of myself if I have difficulties. For example, if I have trouble breathing when I’m working in the garden, I know what to do. I used to be a person who held a lot of anger. I felt angry all the time. When something happened, I hung onto it. But after the sessions, I learned to let go. I let go of the hurt because I realized that this is not my future. This is not my life.

From the very first session, I realized that therapy was changing me. I realized that my life was not useless. Now, I love people. I like to stay around others. I socialize. I can talk to someone who is feeling sad. I listen and help them with their problems. I’m able to impact people’s lives.

I wish others could come to get the same kind of care – to know what can be changed. If you’re undergoing a difficult situation, I want you to know that you can overcome this. This is not the end of the world.

You are still capable of living a better life.