James’ Story

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PCAF staff helped James, a former child soldier, use art as a tool to begin his recovery from trauma

James-beforeJames resides in the Kitgum district in northern Uganda. He lost his father before he was born, and his mother suffered from guinea worm infection. He was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army at age 14, where he was trained as a soldier and sent to Sudan. He was beaten, starved and forced to kill, and escaped many helicopter gunship attacks and bombs.

After his escape from the LRA, James was registered at a PCAF clinic where the social worker noticed that he would not talk or smile. He suffered from nightmares, loss of appetite and hopelessness about the future. The social worker noticed that he liked to draw and gave him crayons and a paper to tell his story. He produced dozens of extraordinary drawings of his experience in the bush as a soldier with the LRA.

In months of intensive treatment, James opened up and began to regain his life. He has been making artwork for PCAF ever since. He now works for a graphic design studio, has a safe place to live with his wife and child, and through an anonymous donor, has a full range of art supplies. View a gallery of James’ remarkable drawings.