David works as the Jesuit Refugee Service Mental Health Supervisor in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya (Angela Wells/Jesuit Refugee Service).
Testimony

I am from Jonglei state, South Sudan which is now totally destroyed from the recent conflict. I came to Kakuma in 1992 when the camp first opened. When I arrived I was 24 and I didn't have a single day of education so I started with the first class of primary school. By 2004, I had graduated from secondary school and in 2005 I became a mental health supervisor with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the camp.

Refugees come here with horrible memories – memories of their homes being attacked in the middle of the night, of living in war torn zones – so their mental health is obviously affected.  They lose property and their relatives. They suffer from trauma. Without mental health care, entire communities suffer, people fight and individuals don't understand the horrible feelings they're experiencing.

I even had my own traumas to overcome and helping others has helped me to heal too. I used to have nightmares of the camp being bombed but now I learned to deal with these issues. I feel healthier when I am helping others.

The other counsellors and I show the community the benefit of being together and caring for others, especially widows, unaccompanied minors and people with special needs. We build trust and take care of the needs of people so they can feel loved and welcomed here.

Life is better here in the camp than in war, but there is still insecurity and suffering. The population of the camp is rising but the food rations aren't going up proportionately. Luckily, there are dozens of schools where our children can be educated, including my four-year-old son. We are also grateful to have been given this space to be safe.

I don't think about tomorrow, only today. I can only focus on making sure my children eat and sleep well today. I work at JRS while my wife cares for my children; we take it one day at a time.

I don't think about my future too much but I do hope I can find another place of peace in this lifetime.

Today, I will continue to be a counsellor of others.

Dear Pope Francis,

Thank you for coming to Africa. I am grateful you came to show the world that Africans are people too.

Tell God thank you for protecting me throughout my entire life. I'm sure that God listens to you and answers your prayers to stop wars and bring peace so continue to pray for us and for our challenges.

In solidarity, 

David Manyang, 44, South Sudanese, mental health professional, community leader counsellor of others, refugee.


Countries Related to this Region
Kenya