EDJA Foundation was founded in 2015 by Tabitha Mpamira-Kaguri to combat child abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence in rural Uganda. EJDA began after a nine-year-old primary student was raped by a 35-year-old man. Although the adults around her knew about the rape, they did not know how to help her.
Since then, EDJA has grown to support over 80 survivors of sexual or domestic violence from ages 4 to 38. The program provides counseling, legal advocacy, and medical services in two districts of Southwest Uganda, Rukungiri and Kanungu. EDJA is combining efforts with Nyaka, which has used a human rights-based holistic approach for 16 years to serve the same communities. Nyaka’s mission is to end the cycle of poverty for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and their grandmothers in rural Uganda. The two organizations have been sharing resources and serving many of the same children. In 2018, EDJA Foundation and Nyaka determined that the best way to address sexual assault in Uganda was to merge the two organizations. This will allow them to fully combine their resources and expand the program to support more communities.
This short is from the upcoming documentary, VICTORS, which tells the story of EDJA. VICTORS is a documentary film by Matt Stauble and Joe Foster, produced by Dapp Studios and Stauble Media. The full documentary is currently in post production. For information and to support the film, visit: http://www.edjafilm.com
EDJA operates a Crisis Center in the local hospital located in Kambuga. This center provides crisis intervention, including access to a rape exam to collect evidence and medical treatments such as Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), which helps prevent the contraction of HIV/AIDS (Costs approximately $5.00 USD). These services, which are provided free by EDJA, are typically too expensive for most families. After the initial exam, survivors are given follow up medical treatment and counseling to help them move toward healing.
The Crisis Center also provides legal advocacy. Because of corruption, rape survivors must also pay a fee to the police before the perpetrator can be arrested of approximately $12.00 USD (about half a month’s wages). EDJA’s legal advocate takes responsibility for making the police report, paying the fees, and assisting the police with arresting the perpetrator. They assist the families with the complicated and often expensive court process. Because of EDJA, perpetrators are being tried and convicted for the first time in Southwest Uganda, protecting future children from assault.
EDJA also provides outreach to the community. Survivors are often shunned, shamed and taunted by some in the community who infer that the survivor wanted the assault. EDJA educates the community about female rights and the consequences of assault through radio broadcast, workshops, and local gatherings. It also informs families seeking help about what they can do if their child is assaulted.
Tabitha Mpamira-Kaguri was moved to establish EDJA Foundation by her personal encounters with young girls in Southwestern Uganda who had been raped. As a survivor of childhood sexual assault herself, Mpamira-Kaguri could not stand by while another child or woman went through the pain of suffering in silence without any support. Mpamira-Kaguri grew up in Uganda as a Rwandan refugee. She moved to the United States when she was 14 years old. She is an experienced clinical therapist, and she is currently a doctoral candidate, studying Clinical Psychology at The Illinois School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University, Chicago. She is specializing in sexual trauma. After merging with Nyaka, Mpamira-Kaguri remained with EDJA. She continues to oversee the program and to raise awareness and support. In March 2018, she was named a Hearts on Fire Visionary of the Month.
EDJA is sparking rapid social change in rural Ugandan. Every day more and more families are coming forward to ask for help. For the first time, they know that there is support. They believe have already seen justice achieved for children. They have hope for their children too.
Now with Nyaka and EDJA working together, more girls and women will be served and more lives will be saved than ever before.