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Julie and Carl Gaede, along with daughters Emma and Grace, talk with village residents in Uganda as part of their five-year ministry to offer healing to those who have suffered emotional trauma due to war. (Submitted photo)

Five years of healing ... and counting

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life New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

When Carl and Julie Gaede sold most of their belongings and moved their entire family to Uganda five years ago, they had little idea what the future held.

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The former New Richmond residents are back in town for two months, visiting family and friends and recounting the stories surrounding their ministry to provide trauma rehabilitation counseling to the war-torn region.

They are also planning several upcoming fundraising efforts to help support their ministry's expansion in other parts of the region.

A golf scramble is planned at noon on Friday, Sept. 13, at Bristol Ridge Golf Club in Somerset. Contact Kris Thomas at 612-618-2710 to register or for more information.

A gourmet pancake breakfast and silent auction is scheduled for 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Knights of Columbus Hall in New Richmond. Daughter Emma will be the keynote speaker at 9:30 a.m.

The journey

The Gaedes formed the nonprofit organization Tutapona five years ago to serve as the fundraising arm of their efforts.

Both trained counselors, Carl and Julie felt called to help the people of Uganda recover from the emotional damage of civil war. After short mission trips to the African country, the family uprooted itself from New Richmond and permanently moved there.

Since then, their efforts have flourished. According to Carl, the trauma rehabilitation efforts have reached more than 21,000 in the past five years.

After more than two decades of bloody civil war, millions of families were displaced and forced to live in refugee camps for years.

During the warfare, more than 50,000 children were abducted and made to train as soldiers. Many were forced to witness the murder of parents and relatives as an indoctrination. They were also forced to commit horrible murders themselves.

As a result, much of Uganda's population had to deal with the effects of emotional trauma yet little or no help was previously available for them.

That's why the Gaedes stepped in. Using a Christian-based program, the couple helps train facilitators who reach out to those who need help. Much of Tutapona's work is accomplished in large refugee camps in the northern part of Uganda.

"It's been such a privilege to see God use us as a tool to bring healing to people," Julie said. "We can't take credit for what's going on. God is doing miracles every day."

Carl said the family hoped to have an immediate impact on individual lives when they moved to Uganda, but the results have been beyond their wildest dreams.

"We knew God was going to do big things," he said. "But God really blew the door off our expectations. God has radically changed people's lives."

New horizons

The Gaedes expanded their ministry into South Sudan two years ago, working with refugees in yet another African war-torn region.

Recently, however, the nonprofit organization has pulled out of that country and redeployed their resources to the largest refugee settlement in Uganda -- Nakivale -- located in the southwest part of the country.

Carl said the camp, which has been serving displaced persons for decades, is home to refugees from upward of 10 African countries, including Congo, Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. A total of 70,000 people call the camp home.

Because many of the refugees come from areas where war is common, Carl said the need for trauma counseling is great.

"This is a great central location for us to reach people," he said.

Tutapona has received permission from the Ugandan government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) organization to operate in Nakivale.

Carl said tensions are high in the camp, because so many different nationalities live there. Because of the emotional baggage people carry, problems within the camp often lead to terrible violence, he explained.

Officials hope that the Gaede's efforts, which focus on forgiveness and reconciliation, will result in peace within the settlement.

Tutapona uses a three-pronged approach to providing the healing people need. The trauma counseling is followed with classes focusing on the Bible and the saving power of Jesus, Carl said.

Julie added that the ministry also works with locals to establish churches that will serve the people for years to come.

"Some of these villages don't have a church nearby," she said. "We're not providing funding for buildings. We're helping to train people to become pastors."

Helping out

Carl and Julie have started new fundraising effort, called The 10 Campaign. They hope to sign up 200 people who will agree to support the ministry by donating $10 a month for a year.

If the effort is successful, Carl said, the ministry's efforts in Nakivale will be fully funded.

Tutapona Inc., named after the Swahili phrase for "We will heal," can be contacted at P.O. Box 214, New Richmond, WI 54017. More information is available at www.tutapona.com.

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