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Since our last blog, we have taken our needs assessment and literature review report on mental health and pyschosocial support through multiple verification stages to finally be able to say we are finished. Throughout the whole process of information gathering, the Playing to Live (PTL) team would continuously send information back to our informants to verify we had gathered the correct data.

When we completed Draft 1, we sent it to all stakeholders: from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the Prime Minister, to the organisations represented. We received a few responses to our emails, and so we took the new information provided, and created Draft 2 in anticipation of my journey back to Uganda.

In October, I returned to Uganda to present our information in person to all key stakeholders. This had been a strong suggestion from multiple stakeholders. Prior to this trip, Playing to Live sent me to a 10-day workshop in Amman, Jordan, led by the creators of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Needs Assessment – the assessment we have been using. The workshop affirmed our use of this particular assessment, provided me with richer knowledge on how to use it, and directly increased the analysis and recommendation section in our Draft 2.

Practicing the presentation in the domestic flight en route to the first settlement
Practicing the presentation in the domestic flight en route to the first settlement

Upon arrival in Uganda, I made trips to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and UNHCR to inform them of our plans to disseminate the information. With the help of the Danish Refugee Council, we set up four meetings in the four refugee settlements included in our assessment. We invited all the key stakeholders we had individually met with, as well as any additional people who were recommended to us. Each meeting was scheduled to last from 9 AM- 1 PM, but due to multiple reasons, we typically had about 2 hours of speaking and questions.

Bidi Bidi Meeting
Bidi Bidi Meeting

The participants were wonderful. They asked inquisitive questions, reflected on their growing acknowledgement of the need for mental health, and were incredibly enthusiastic about the information we were sharing with them. This sustained our confidence that we had taken a community based approach, and we feel very proud to be have the support of the stakeholders.

Rhino Camp Meeting
Rhino Camp Meeting

Following the meetings, I returned to America, and the PTL team finalised the report based on the feedback we received. Additionally, we gained a new collaboration partner, TPO UGANDA; who, after a thorough review of our assessment, provided us with important feedback and went back into the field to validate the information we had gathered. TPO is a leader in mental health in Uganda, and we are incredibly proud to have them as collaborators.

With the final report in hand, we have begun our dissemination. Currently we are in Stage 1 as we await final confirmation from OPM and UNHCR. We are eager to continue in our dissemination and look forward to eventually publishing our work for all to see.

Author: Alexis Decosimo, Playing to Live Founder and Executive Director

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