BEYOND THE SCARS

After the gun powder cleared in the air, not only did she notice everything in her sight was blurry, but she was also aware of the heaviness in her left upper thigh and lower limb. She could not move herself any further.

Forty six year old Cizerina Keji from Nimbule, South Sudan.

This moment would rob many years of her life to pain. Fourteen years later, forty six year old Cizerina Keji has not found a way back to her happy hardworking mother and business self.

A taxi she had boarded to Pageri for business was ambushed by rebels on its way from her home village, Nimbule, South Sudan in 2005.

The rebels randomly shot at the car from all angles, killing all the other seven people on board, except for Keji and her sixteen-year-old boy who managed to escape amidst the fierce cross fire. They were later rescued by security officers who helped them cross the border to Uganda and finally to Adjumani district. After elleven years of tough survival in a new country, she found a home at Majji III settlement in 2016.

Cizerina has for years now, had to live with physical scars from the gunshots as evidence of the bullets that went through her left thigh and across her chest.

This is where the bullet passed through Keji’s body in 2005, on her way to Pageri.

But beyond the physical scars, is psychological and emotional pain. For Keiji, after migration has been years of physical pain made worse by the constant worry for her husband who was not able to escape and is now an internally displaced person in South Sudan. The agony of losing her home and business to now having to settle in a tent with all of her nine children and surviving on relief food portions is a sorry reality she is slowly learning to embrace, especially with the deteriorating situation of her body from effects of the gunshots and bullet wounds, that have with time shortened her left leg, causing her to limp and use a walking stick.

As we have this conversation, today on the 19 August, 2019, Keji has just found out that her spinal code must have suffered damage from the limping over the years. This is the first time Keji has heard a professional medical opinion in more than eight years of silent pain, thanks to Refugee Law Project, School of Law, Makerere University Uganda that has given her opportunity to get professional medical help with the physical pain from St. Mary’s hospital Lacor in Gulu district, Uganda.

This is one step towards a long journey of healing for Keji who has since developed severe distress that causes her to easily black out whenever something scares or takes her by surprise.

Keji is one of thousands of refugees suffering both physical, psychological and emotional pain, even years after migration.

This is the first of many stories that will be shared under the series; “After Migration” in partnership with Media Challenge Initiative and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Uganda & South Sudan

 

ABOUT AFTER MIGRATION

After Migration Series (AMS) focuses on the survivors of violent wars seeking sanctuary in Uganda as well as their generous hosts who have also experienced unspeakable legacies of wars. Herein, we shade light on stories and experiences of  refugees and hosts, away from the popular statics to in-depth personal narratives by the very people that have lived and continue to live these uncomfortable realities.

In unpacking these realities, we shall delve into a continuing photo series by documentary photographer Watsemba Miriam, where we explore; What happens to their health? How do these people move on (if at all they do)? Who helps them move on? What happens when refugee settlements become their new ‘home’? What are their hopes and dreams of life? How has life changed for them now? And what more can be done to expedite their physical, psychological, and economic recovery?

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