Many people have heard of Joseph Kony and the LRA - responsible for abducting more than 66,000 children into his rebel army as child soldiers and sex slaves. Controlled through terror, torture and murder, children are scarred by unspeakable horror. Yet few have seen the faces and heard the powerful stories of child survivors. 

"The Poza Project" is a venture utilizing the children’s art, Jeremy’s creative collaboration, and film as a means for these brave children to tell their own story of survival and to find healing. 

Elements of their story too painful to voice with words begin to find expression through art and art therapy. Simply telling their story is a major step in their healing. Through The Poza Project these formerly abducted children are getting their story out, and we are witnessing major breakthroughs in their healing and restoration.

Why “Poza”?:  Poza is a broken Swahili word meaning “to heal” – offering a fitting trajectory for all this project is and shall accomplish.

“Through art, elements of their stories too difficult to share with words have been released… We are seeing them come to life. We are watching them be renewed.” – Jeremy Cowart  

Samuel Baker

Looking at this amazing smile, one may never guess what those eyes have seen.  At age 9, the LRA attacked Samuel’s home, killed both parents and abducted the children.  Miraculously, he and his two sisters would survive several years as captives. 

Today, Samuel leads the household - looking after his younger sisters and managing their crops. In 2012, he received sponsorship to return to school… but not before making arrangements to concurrently care for his beloved sisters.  Man, we love this guy!

This smart, big-hearted leader is now plugged into a program that is helping to heal the wounds of his past and develop him into a leader for peace in his community.

Final Art Collaboration


Judith

When the LRA entered and attacked her village, they forced Judith, a 7-year-old child, to participate in the killing of her own mother. Orphaned and abducted by the LRA, she would spend nearly 2 years in captivity and be forced to do the unspeakable.

Today she is healing and growing stronger. Judith is sponsored, back in school and receiving care for the traumatic events she survived. She dreams of becoming a psychiatric doctor to help others who have been traumatized by the LRA.

When asked what she would tell Joseph Kony and the rebel commanders, she said, “I would tell them to come back home so we can forgive them.”

Final Art Collaboration


Denis

During Denis’s abduction, his father and grandparents were murdered by the LRA.  His younger siblings were left and his mother given instructions by the rebels to “raise them well… one day we’ll return to take them too.”

Denis was trained in the bush to be a “doctor” for other LRA members and child soldiers – removing bullets and bandaging the wounds of his peers at 10 years old. 

He survived captivity with the LRA and has been reunited with his remaining family members. For Denis, faith and song writing became major elements of his healing process. With pride, he shows off notebooks full of songs – songs expressing hurtful memories from his time in the bush… but vastly outnumbering these lamentations are his songs of redemption and his hope for the future. Denis now uses his musical talent and leadership skills to organize and lead a youth choir in his community – excerpting a positive influence on the next generation.

Final Art Collaboration


Omara Samuel

Omara Samuel was abducted twice by the LRA.  The first time, he was abducted alongside his father and mother. After two months, the rebels continued on with his parents while leaving Samuel in the bush. Samuel was 5 years old.

He would later find his home only to be abducted a second time. During captivity the second time, he was forced to see and do horrific, unspeakable things.  Forced to kill. Forced to maim. Leaving daunting, emotional and spiritual scars no child should carry.

Today, Samuel is back with his siblings. He and the younger siblings are now in school and have begun to put the pieces back together. It has not been, and may never be, an easy road. But they are getting help. They have begun the long road of healing.

Thanks to the care he now receives and the mercies of Christ, we have already seen him begin to heal and grow. We believe in his future and are committed to seeing Samuel restored and empowered as a peace leader in his own community.

Final Art Collaboration


Dillish

Dillish witnessed horrendous acts the day the rebels raided her home. A young girl, she was forced to watch her mother, father and little brother be killed by the LRA Rebels. Watching her home be destroyed flames, she was tied up and taken into captivity to be a servant for the commanders.

After a significant amount of time in the bush, Dillish managed to find a way to escape. She was reunited with her grandmother who has cared for and looked after her.

Thanks to a caring sponsor, she is getting a great education and participates in weekly art and group therapy (called Peace Clubs).  Through the safety of art and group therapy with peers who have shared similar experiences… Dillish has begun to shine. 

These “Peace Clubs” are a part of EI’s HOPE Initiative. It’s important to understand that a key characteristic of trauma/traumatic experiences is disempowerment and isolation. It is the felt sense of being “exiled” from one’s own family and community. These Peace Clubs offer an provide a place for war-affected children to learn they are not alone… that they have peers and caregivers who have experienced similar traumas… who understand their pain and care for them.  It is a safe place to grow and heal in the context of relationships founded on hope and unconditional love. 

It’s a place to learn that despite all they’ve seen or been forced to do… they are not their past and that Christ sees them as beautiful and valuable children.

Final Art Collaboration


NighTy

Seven years old and returning home from school, Nighty heard rumors that the rebels were on their way.  She ran to hide with her aunt but was soon separated.  Alone in the bush the rebels found her.  The LRA forced Nighty to walk until her feet were bones and blood.  She witnessed friends being killed and was even shot during an ambush.

Nighty is a fighter and survivor.  We praise God that she survived and has been reunited with her mother, father and siblings. Nighty often held her head in shame due to disfigurement of her ears from damage done by the rebels. Through the generosity and compassion of a donor, she was able to have surgery to remove the painful reminder of her past.  Nighty radiates strength and beauty - daily continuing to transform and grow!

Final Art Collaboration


Martin

Final Art Collaboration

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Additional Images from the Trip