Francis Okello Oloya, Comfort Dog Project

Francis Okello Oloya is a war trauma survivor in Uganda. When he was a young boy, he was subjected to a bomb explosion while working in his family’s garden, which left him severely injured and blind. Despite his many challenges, he made it through high school and college, receiving his degree in community psychology. Francis has returned to his homeland, Gulu, Uganda, and developed The Comfort Dog Project to help other war trauma survivors who are suffering terribly with the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Twenty-five years of war between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government has had devastating effects on Northern Uganda’s families and communities. The economy of the region collapsed, as many residents lost their homes and possessions and were forced to live in camps for more than 10 years. Children were abducted and forced to carry out carnage, women and girls raped, and fathers murdered. It has been estimated by mental health professionals that 7 in 10 people in Northern Uganda have been traumatically affected by the war. Although there is now peace in the region, internal wars are still being waged and lost. Tens of thousands of survivors, with no social and mental health support, struggle to cope with anxiety, loneliness, despair, and suffer PTSD.

There is a high rate of suicide and substance abuse in Northern Uganda among PTSD survivors, and which is cause for an immediate need for effective intervention. The Comfort Dog Project is designed to fill this psycho-social therapeutic void by providing professional trauma counseling in conjunction with training in how to care for, teach and create a solid dog-guardian bond as a way to further reduce the trauma and symptoms associated with PTSD.

Funding from the Pollination Project will be used for project expenses such as supplies, food, communication costs, and transportation costs.

To learn more about Comfort Dog Project, visit their Website.

GRANT AWARD DATE: January 23, 2015