Cosmas Bida Elioba is 32yrs old, a refuge from Yei state, Otogo County, Payam village in South Sudan and a resident of Ofua 2 block C in Rhino Camp Refugee settlement Arua district. He was forced to leave South Sudan in 2017 because of the war between the Dhinkas and the Nuers which caused a lot of killings, robberies and all other sorts of crimes. Having been a businessman, he lost commodities worth millions of money during the war. After he had lost his business, life became so hard. He could not find any other job because of the rampant war. So it is at this point that Cosmas decided to join all his other neighbors that were planning on fleeing South Sudan to Uganda to seek refuge. Despite all the killings in South Sudan, he left his family back home because he was not sure of whether he would die on his way to Uganda or not. It took them 3 days to walk from Yei state to Koboko. When they reached Koboko Reception Centre, they were registered and transported to Nvepi refugee camp by United Nations vehicles.
When he arrived in Nvepi, he felt broken and lost, a deep wound inside him had been torn open and laid bare, exposed, bleeding and aching. “I felt so lonely and I was worried about my family that I had left back home, life in Nvepi was very hard, no shelter, eating one meal a day and having to struggle for everything wasn’t easy for me, at a certain point I even thought of going back to South Sudan to join the war,” said Cosmas. While at Nvepi, he met a man that was his friend way back home. He was so excited to finally meet someone close to him. Cosmas had a brother who had come to Arua a year ago and he always told him on phone that his home was in Ofua 2. So he used that opportunity to ask his friend to accompany him to Ofua 2 so he could locate his brother. His friend accepted and their journey was about 20 kilometers.
While in Ofua, he stayed with his brother for one night and the next morning he was given a plot which he cleared and built a house. After putting up his house, reality hit him, he was all alone, questions and theories swirled around his mind. He had nothing to feed on, no beddings and no family to talk to. He had to seek refuge in church, and while at church, he confided in the pastor who helped him with some basic needs and transport to go back to South Sudan and pick his family.
When he brought his family came to Uganda, life became even harder, it was very hard for them to have two meals a day, even the plot of land where he had built his house would flood especially during the rainy season. He got so frustrated and bitter. “Sometimes we would go without food for days and I would start thinking of all my wealth that I lost in Sudan then I would fill like killing myself or even going back to Sudan to join the fight. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t give up on life altogether at that point. At the pace I was going, it was obvious I was rapidly headed for death. I was physically, mentally and emotionally tormented, I would go for days without talking to anyone in my household”, said Cosmas
Then one day, they were informed that a church called PAG was organizing to take them through a process called trauma healing and peacebuilding. At that point, he was not even interested in any church or anything to do with God, but when the volunteers picked him as one of the people that needed to participate in the program, he decided to give it a try, During the sessions, they gave examples of men of God who went through lots of suffering and came out victorious for example the story of John Mark who went through a lot of suffering because of war and he lost his people and property but he kept trusting in God and eventually overcame all the sufferings. Through the trauma healing and peacebuilding teachings, they were taught to let out whatever they had inside their hearts by encouraging them to be open and share their pain. By sharing what he went through in South Sudan, he felt so relieved and he started looking at life differently. As he went through the healing process, he learned that with God everything is possible. He is now more social than he used to be and he counsels refugees who are emotionally unstable like he used to be. According to Cosmas, sometimes he gets setbacks but his sure that with the help of the teachings, one day he will be able to recover completely. He is so thankful to PAG for this program because it restored his joy.