Beautiful Beginnings: Counseling Sessions Led to the Creation of a Savings Group

27 October 2023|Rosette Komuhangi

In the group, I realized that I am not alone. 

I got support from people who understand what I have been through. 

My voice was heard. 

I realized that I could relate to others and myself in healthier ways. 

I made friends who are now saving partners.  

I never imagined that I could talk about the things I went through. 

Oh, my joy is back! Now I know why I was always angry at nothing! 


This chorus of positive statements is from a group of women who had just finished counseling sessions.  17 refugee women from different backgrounds and countries completed two months of group therapy sessions in Uganda. These women have experienced traumatic physical and emotional situations like multiple rapes, gender-based violence, depression, losing loved ones, anxiety, and fleeing their home countries. 

As they talked about their experiences with the sessions, it was obvious that many shackles of pain had been lifted, and the majority decided to face the future with more enthusiasm and hope. The women chuckled about how the two months had done wonders for them. Rose Kayoya, a refugee from Congo, could not help saying… 

I used to believe counseling was ineffective because my problems required material solutions. Despite my skepticism, I decided to attend the sessions, and I am grateful I did. Through these sessions, I have realized that sharing my problems eases some of the burden. I feel a sense of relief and renewed motivation to make positive changes in my life. – Rose Kayoya

The group therapy provided the women with a safe space to share their experiences and receive support from each other. The outcomes of this counseling went beyond dealing with trauma. The women formed a savings group called “Beautiful Beginnings.” They save a minimum of 2,000 UGX weekly each, which they pool and can loan to any member with a business idea at a small interest rate. These women also started a soap-making business to add to the fund. They also plan to open a restaurant in the future because 13 of them have some experience with the food business.  

Although our experiences have been sad, we found solace and laughter in talking about them when we met. We devised a plan to collaborate and better our financial situation by starting the savings group to reflect our intention to start afresh after learning coping skills. Said Olivien Jean, the group leader.
Rose Kayoya


As part of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support provided to displaced people and host communities, JRS organizes group therapy sessions for various categories of people. The purpose is to help individuals to develop their own ability to solve problems. To offer them practical and supportive ways to manage stress and other difficult parts of their everyday life. Doreen Kyampeire, one of the counselors at JRS, says that the goal is for the individuals to use the coping skills throughout their lives, even after the sessions have ended. 

Ms Kyampeire, who walked the journey with these women, was also impressed with their progress and the idea of starting a savings group. She says that: 

The trauma these women endured is undoubtedly a lot, but it is impressive for them to take steps to work through it and even consider saving. I am happy for them, and I know their group will thrive.  – Ms Kyampeire

These women’s stories are about hope, resilience, and overcoming extreme situations. They have shown that even severe mental health and trauma effects can be dealt with, and JRS is committed to helping various groups address their psychological and emotional challenges.