Lighthouse Network Seeks to Assist Those Joseph Kony and Lord’s Resistance Army Has Harmed
PHILADELPHIA, PA – In 2006, Lighthouse Network, an addiction and mental health referral agency and treatment helpline, traveled to Uganda to come to the aid of those tortured physically, sexually, mentally and spiritually, by Joseph Kony and The Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA). Lighthouse Network provided psychological counseling and training for 150 pastors and ministry leaders who then were able to help thousands of children who were devastatingly brutalized by the evil acts of the LRA members.
This summer, in August of 2012, Karl Benzio, MD and Lighthouse Network have been asked to bring their special expertise in trauma and abuse to Gulu, in Northern Uganda to work with 300 children ages six to 18, and their 50 mentors, who have been rescued and placed in “refugee”-type camps in this land where they are being kept and educated. Although some of their daily food, clothing, and shelter needs have been addressed, not much has been done to help them psychologically process and heal from their inhumane experiences. In fact, some of the camp homes are headed by children, and most of the mentors, age 18 – 30, have been ravaged by abuse themselves. Lighthouse Network will be treating the mentors and children who were victims, perpetrators, and or witnesses to the abusive activities of Joseph Kony and the LRA. This unique combination of equipping and camp experience for the kids hasn’t happened in the area that was ground-zero for the LRA atrocities.
Karl Benzio, M.D. is the founder, executive director and a psychiatrist at the Lighthouse Network, an addiction and mental health referral program that also provides the Lighthouse Addiction Helpline, a free, 24-hour counseling helpline.
“Lighthouse Network strives to help people every day who have mental health problems which may lead to addiction problems, and in this area of Uganda, where lives have literally been shattered, our team is equipped to handle whatever life situations may arise,” Benzio said. “We know we will see every imaginable coping mechanism that humans rely on just to get through the day, and the saddest part of all of this is that most of these suffering are just children. We are honored to serve God by helping these struggling children and their mentors.”
Benzio added, “Long after Hitler’s death, the tortured were still terrorized by Hitler’s actions. So in Uganda, the war isn’t really over until the kids are healed. We are going to help those kids feel accepted, forgiven, valued, loved, and healed. Then they can achieve their God-given potential as they realize they are not discarded trash, but human beings with purpose and honor.”
The children are attempting to become educated and live “normal” lives, yet still suffer the consequences of the unthinkable events through which Joseph Kony and the LRA put them: Captivity, enslavement, every type of abuse, forced to fight in Kony’s army, and then forcing them to physically, sexually, and psychologically abuse and brutalize other adults and children, even their own parents or siblings.
Karl Benzio, M.D., Director of Lighthouse Network is a psychiatrist, trauma expert, curriculum developer and trainer and will be joined by several team members including Julie Woodley, MA, Christian Counseling and Director of Restoring the Heart Ministries which is a new special service now offered through Lighthouse Network. Julie is also a trauma survivor, curriculum developer and trainer.
Specific work that will be carried out by Lighthouse Network includes training to the staff and the mentors regarding:
- Helping mentors process the abuses they might have personally experienced
- Equipping mentors to help the children process their abuses
- Providing communication and mentoring skills to better work with the children’s issues
– How God views and heals them
– how to process emotions and distortions
– Ways to process their abuses and forgive
– How not to let these abuses restrict their God-given potential
– How Satan want to use those abuses to smash them
Lighthouse Network will be working with ALARM Ministries (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries) on the summer 2012 trip to Uganda.