If you watched the viral KONY 2012 documentary, it should come as no surprise that there are more people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in northern Uganda than anywhere else in the world.
One organization, THARCE-Gulu, is offering non-medical integrative therapy, notably filmmaking and computer education, to victims of Joseph Kony in northern Uganda.
The non-profit uses donated Flip cameras and editing software to teach video storytelling techniques. THARCE film students shoot and edit videos about the Gulu community, including one featuring the women of Gulu and another of a Bob Marley flash mob (both below).
“We have a motto here at THARCE, ‘Nothing about us, without us,’” THARCE supporter and actress Eliza Dushku (Bring It On, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse) told Mashable, explaining how storytelling through film can be therapeutic.
In addition to the film curriculum, THARCE teaches computer skills using 20 donated HP laptops Dushku delivered to Gulu with her boyfriend, actor and former NBA player Rick Fox.
One Gulu community member Dushku feels particularly close to, Rose, comes to the center to check her email, use Facebook and connect to a world she was previously cut off from. The 27-year-old mother of four was abducted as a child and assigned to Joseph Kony’s right-hand man.
“It’s a new shot at life for her and her kids,” Dushku says. “They’re so desperate for tech. I was the CESambassador this year and I would say ‘I know it might sound insane, but send us your old products, you have no idea the effect it will have — they are so savvy and so desperate.”
Following KONY 2012′s rapid spread to become the most viral video ever, much attention has been drawn to the situation in northern Uganda. Despite criticisms of the documentary, Dushku says she quickly retweeted the link.
“When you first hear about the circumstances, you’re blown away thinking how this went on and how nobody talked about it,” she says, noting that KONY 2012 doesn’t best represent the current situation, because Kony may now be in the Congo or Sudan. “What’s far more pressing today, as far as what victims need now, is rehabilitation and rebuilding.”
Dushku says THARCE would love to collaborate with Invisible Children, the organization that created the film, because of their skill at generating buzz around the issue. One of the primary criticisms of Invisible Children has been its allocations of funds, very little of which go toward the people abducted by Kony.
“The focus now is seeing that the money goes to the people that the film was made about,” Dushku says, revealing a potential discrepancy between the two organization’s approaches.
SEE ALSO: KONY 2012 May Be Flawed, But Slacktivism Isn’t the Enemy
Dushku’s mother Judith Dushku, an African politics professor, first visited the region three years ago while she was teaching a class about former child soldiers. She was so moved by the people of Gulu that she decided to work to expand THARCE and is now president of that non-profit organization. She soon got the younger Dushku on board, who has since raised $30,000 for her 30th birthday and $31,000 for her 31st birthday for THARCE.
In addition to computer and film courses, THARCE-Gulu (Trauma Healing and Reflection Center) teaches business, literacy, arts, storytelling and women’s empowerment courses.
Do you think connecting to modern technology is a good tool for healing? Share your reactions in the comments.