Dorothy Agoe is a Psychosocial Counselor for JRS Kampala. Prior to her work in Kampala, she worked with JRS Maban, South Sudan as the Assistant Psychosocial Coordinator for three years where she directed home visits in the local refugee camps, overseen the JRS daycare for disabled children, and managed psychological group therapy.
Describe your life and what was happening when you first become involved with JRS.
I grew up in Eastern Uganda during a time when my home was facing an insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2003. Children, mothers, fathers, and the elderly were all victimized by the conflict and forced to flee. We used to spend nights sleeping in the bushes with animals, both domestic and wild. Families and communities were separated or internally displaced to camps (IDPs), where they depended on humanitarian food rations to survive. Because of the destruction of infrastructure and the risk of abduction, children did not attend school. I joined Jesuit Refugee Service in 2015 and was assigned to Maban, South Sudan, as the Assistant Psychosocial Coordinator for three years until the end of 2018.
Where are you in your life today?
Currently, I am working with the JRS Kampala Urban Refugee Program as a Psychosocial Counselor. My work involves listening to the most vulnerable refugees, accompanying them through home visits, and advocating for their rights and access to basic needs and services. I am also enrolled at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, working on my Master of Arts in Refugee and Migration studies.
What difference did JRS make in your life?
As a refugee, I developed a passion for working in the humanitarian field. JRS provided a second family for me and the opportunity to give back to those who endured refugee hardships like myself. Learning how to provide mental health and psychosocial support, allowed me to help people heal from the inside to better their lives.
As a faith-based organization, JRS also gave me an opportunity to connect with traditional African and missionary life where respect and hospitality for guests and elders is paramount. Because of my experience with Jesuit Refugee Service, I have learned valuable attributes of humility, compassion for the most vulnerable, and peaceful mutual co-existence. I’ve been able to offer a spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood to many on their journey in the mist of displacement.
JRS talks about walking with the people we serve and accompanying them on their journeys. What does accompaniment mean to you?
Accompaniment to me goes beyond just having a presence with refugees. It means offering a listening ear, being compassionate to the most vulnerable, supporting and walking with a refugee on their journey, and giving hope to others.
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