Alone, hungry and so scared that it hurt!

Julio, eight years old, was living in Malange during the war in Angola. One day his mother and father went to the field to get some cassava, as they had nothing to eat. He became more and more afraid as time passed and his parents were not back. It started hurting me,” says Julio.

Later, a neighbour came to him. “She said when my mother was taking cassava, there were armed men in the trees who started firing,” says Julio. “They shot my mother and my father many times.” 1

Footnote 1: Adapted from the article ‘The Impact of War on Children‘ from Reliefweb ( by Margaret C. McCullough, PhD Luanda, January 1995

Julio’s trauma and that of many more children continue. Children who grew up in Angola during 41 years of war, not only suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but also anxiety, depression and abandonment.

It is understandable that it would affect their relationships and the way they deal with their children and the next generations. In a culture of war, violence becomes the norm rather than the exception. Forced to cope with chronic danger, they often adapt in ways that make sense for short-term survival but are dysfunctional in a stable climate. They withdraw, become hyper-aggressive, or identify with aggressors. Violence begets violence and the cycle continues, making healthy relationships almost impossible.

The trauma suffered during the war probably explains why parents are now much less involved in the lives of their children – and the next generation – than before the war. Because of this lack of involvement from parents, today’s children, experience a different trauma – emotional and spiritual abandonment from their parents, causing a different trauma that results in behavioural problems.

Without any psychosocial intervention, it will influence their lives as well as that of the next generation.


Petra Institute has developed a proven strategy to address the trauma of large numbers of children, but we need your help to do so!

Our Walking with Wounded Children (WWWC) Course equips lay persons to work with emotionally wounded children on a very fundamental level. It has been presented with great success in several countries such as Angola.

To train 20+ pastors in training in Angola, we need to raise R61 000 to cover all costs.

The impact of this course in countries where the population has been traumatised, such as Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, Sudan, and Gaza in Israel, was far-reaching. When the war in Ukraine broke out, teams of Petra Associates started ministering and producing online material for families to deal with trauma. This brought comfort and skills to hundreds of families inside and outside the country.

If we can raise enough funds, we will be training students from the Mission and Discipleship Centre in Menongue during July 2024.

These students are eager to incorporate the skills gained from WWWC in their ministries after finishing their studies, after which they will return to their hometowns across the country to start with church planting. These additional skills will enable them to assist children affected by trauma and to train others to do so, multiplying the workforce.

play therapy
Walking with Wounded Children: Play Therapy (Gaza, Israel)


Joan van der Merwe, teaching pre-schoolers

Joan van der Merwe is passionate about children. She has been involved with children’s ministry in Angola for many years after receiving training with Petra Institute in South Africa. Through building trusting relationships with the children, they have come to feel accepted, welcomed, respected, and loved, and they are growing in their individual relationships with God.

Joan and her husband Wessel, staff of Operation Mobilisation (OM), moved from South Africa to Luanda, Angola in 2002 and settled in Menongue, Southern Angola in 2005. The couple started ministering to children, teaching religious education in five schools in Luanda and training Sunday school teachers. They continued with the work they initially started in Luanda after settling in Menongue where they started a Mission and Discipleship training centre, an academic school for the children in the area, and training in children’s ministry.



Spiritual growth: The children Joan regularly ministers to are well-behaved, and eager to help. She taught them to help her present some aspects of their meetings, such as welcoming the other children, and leading the worship and reflection sessions at the end of the meeting. When Joan trains Sunday school teachers, the children also help to welcome the teachers and to lead the worship. They are part of the ministering team that visits the old age home weekly.


Greater parent involvement: The academic school advises parents on how to guide their children in areas where they struggle. This creates many opportunities for parents to be much more involved with their children. At the end of each school quarter, a closing event is arranged for the parents and most of them attend this.

Children are part of the ministering team that visits the old age home weekly. Children who have been equipped from a young age to share their faith in God and have compassion for others will remain active in the church as they grow up.

Parents eagerly attend the quarterly closing event of the school. Just imagine what this means to the children! Through the work of Joan, we actually see how the neglect of the past is replaced by restored relationships between parents and children. Malachi 4:6 says, ‘And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers.’


Joan has asked Petra Institute to present the Walking with Wounded Children course to address the need for proper training in dealing with the trauma children are experiencing. The course will equip the students of their Mission and Discipleship Training Centre to deal with emotionally wounded children on a very fundamental level.

The students will be introduced to:

  • The Biblical basis of walking with wounded children:
  • Understanding and assessing a wounded child
  • Understanding a healing relationship
  • Applying tools for child counselling

Our funding needs

Petra Institute will carry most of the expenses for the course. This includes the travel costs of two of our facilitators to Angola, administration costs, as well as tuition of students. OM will cover the printing of manuals and accommodation and meals for students.

The total cost of training is R61 000.

We appreciate your support, however small or big.

Please visit our fundraising platforms to make a contribution

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