Filda, a young Ugandan woman, was forced into the rebel army when she was only 13. Today, she tells the story of how she survived thanks to her wonderful dog, Lok Oroma.
By, 30 Aug 2019
“This dog saved my life. If it wasn’t for him, I would be dead.” These are the words Filda shared with the BBC.
A traumatising past
After being abducted and while being forcibly kept in the rebel army, Filda experienced some of the worst atrocities, such as seeing her own brother being tortured and killed in front of her.
By the time she managed to escape, she was suicidal and suffering from PTSD.
“When I got back home, I had terrible nightmares about how my brothers were killed, and the terrible things that happened to me in captivity. But the people in the village taunted me, and spoke badly about me. They called me a murderer, and said I was cursed by the spirits,” she said.
Dogs to the rescue
When all hope seemed to disappear for her, she received an unexpected gift. Indeed, the young woman was entrusted with a dog from the Comfort Dog Project.
This group was founded in 2015 by Francise Okello Oloya, who was blinded by a bomb blast in his village when he was 12 years old. Over time, two of the village dogs started befriending him and guiding him to and from school. That’s when he knew dogs could truly help people. Not just by being herders or hunters or guards, but also to provide them with company, help them gain confidence, and aid to combat depression.
Therapy like no other
For the 5-month therapy program of the Comfort Dog Project, the Comfort Dog Guardians learn to train and care for their dogs, as well as control and process their own emotions.
“When I feel that moment of rage, I call him [Comfort Dog] next to me, start rubbing his back, and then I feel better. I just focus on him,” says Filda.
The best part about the program is that the dogs are not bred, they are actually just stray or unwanted dogs! They are taken from the streets and transformed into therapy dogs, making the program a win-win for both Guardian and animal.
The bond between Filda and her therapy dog Lok Oroma is very special. We hope their next few years together are happy and filled with love!