Scars Unseen: Trauma lingers for war survivors

Roles: Producer, Writer, Editor

Published: Nov. 16, 2017, through the Global Eyewitness Photojournalism Fellowship, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

* Awarded 6th place in the Hearst Multimedia II Competition

More than a decade after the civil war ended between the Ugandan government and notorious rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), many Ugandans are still living with the weight of the war. The Acholi region in northern Uganda was one of the most affected areas in a war that spanned nearly three decades. Many ex-LRA soldiers, some of whom were abducted as children and forced to become rebels, are still coming home to the region, ‘Acholiland’, today. 

In May 2017, the same month this story was produced, the Ugandan and U.S. governments ended their search for LRA leader Joseph Kony. Meanwhile, at the Uganda-South Sudan border, is one of the world’s most urgent refugee crises: hundreds of thousands of Sudanese fleeing south to Uganda, some seeking refuge in Acholiland, a place where an old war remains heavy.  

This story looks at two resilient Ugandan women living in the small Acholi village of Unyama. These women experienced separate LRA attacks just miles apart from one another. Both women were left wounded by the attacks – one lost her right leg; the other was severely burned, causing lasting nerve damage. As these women fight to overcome the physical abuse caused by a complex history of violence and war, it’s the emotional trauma those wounds caused, that lingers.

 Polline gardens at sunrise.

Polline gardens at sunrise.

 Monica rests while prepping dinner.

Monica rests while prepping dinner.

 Monica only takes off her prosthetic for two occasions: bathing and sleeping.

Monica only takes off her prosthetic for two occasions: bathing and sleeping.

 Polline in her garden.

Polline in her garden.