Africa

Update:  A TRI team went to Kenya in the Summer of 2013. 

From July 16-27, 2013 an intensive Train the Trainers project was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Community Resiliency Model was taught to 15 participants representing Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Two translators were used to work and translate into Arabic – for our Sudanese participants – and Somali for our Somali participants. A total of 60 training hours was spent over this ten day period.

This was a unique CRM training because it had participants from different countries, customs and languages present. In addition, participants represented a variety of professional and non-professional backgrounds. It would be safe to say, though, that all the participants work in their homelands with people struggling with a combination of poverty, war, refugee/displaced population status, religious and or tribal conflict, gender based violence and the marginalization of people that can result from any and all of these conditions.  The trainees were excited to learn about the neuroscience of trauma and were enthusiastic trainers.  We are grateful to learn from the Africans about their cultures and how to interweave CRM skills into their communities.

Wendy Flick from UUSC, a member of the team commented, “One of the greatest traumas identified by the participants was that of the daily struggle against hunger and poverty. Some of the groups expressed a desire to learn some techniques to combat these forces. I mentioned the tire garden project that UUSC has worked on with Haitian partners and they expressed a keen interest. So I put together a Power Point with photos I had on my laptop of tire gardens and gave them a one hour presentation which was enthusiastically embraced by all participants.   I feel it was an important complement to the trauma training. The trauma training has both upstream and downstream components; i.e. it addresses recovery from trauma which has already been experienced, as well as supporting people to develop their resiliency to any future traumatic events that may arise, therefore in a sense permitting the individuals to expand their resiliency zone sufficiently to prevent a traumatic event from destabilizing their nervous system. Similarly, the tire gardens represent an upstream solution to the trauma of hunger and poverty, ideally nipping the problem in the bud before it becomes a trauma.”

We will continue to work in Africa and we are now in the process of planning of a project in conjunction with Village Network Africa in 2015.

KENYA-2009

A TRI team was invited to Kenya by the Kenyan Association of Professional Counselors due to our association with Gloria Simoneaux, a talented expressive art therapist who now works with Save the Children and a nonprofit, Caring for the Kids of Kenya, run by a remarkable woman, Linda Wilson, an American who supports an orphanage near Nairobi.The TRI team conducted a Trauma Resiliency Model Training for the Kenyan Association of Professional Counselors. Participants were from many parts of Kenya and one of the participants who heard about our work, took a bus from Rwanda to attend the training. We were deeply moved by their life stories and how they were able to embrace the TRM skills so easily.

We accompanied Gloria Simoneaux to the Kibera Slum, one of the largest slums in Africa and participated in a wonderful art project with the children of Kibera. The children came alive with the art work and their enthusiasm was inspiring to all of us. The artwork was remarkable and some of the adults gave us a tour of their homes within the slum. We were able to see the resilience and industry of the people as we came upon a small group of men making jewelry and entered a humble dwelling filled with stunning pieces of art.
We were invited to bring our TRM skills to the Women’s Prison in Nairobi. Gloria Simoneaux began a project bringing her expressive arts to the women who were all HIV positive and were imprisoned for a variety of reasons. The women welcomed us and were also quite eager to learn new skills that may help them. We brought supplies for a lunch and they cooked a meal for us. Some had their babies with them and we learned they were able to keep the babies up to a certain age and then the children were usually taken to an orphanage if there were no family members who could adopt the child. The suffering was palpable but so was the joy which was evidenced when we were invited to dance with the women after we had shared our skills with them. We were again moved by the generosity of the women who also embraced the new skills.
We introduced TRM skills to the teachers of the orphanage sponsored by Caring for the Kids of Kenya. We also were able to bring the skills to a private school where we were greeted by enthusiastic adolescents who were eager to learn. We provided training to teachers who shared with us that many of the children have had multiple traumas in their life. The stories of the children were heart wrenching as we observed the stark realities of poverty and the aftermath of the post-election violence of 2007.

The team was invited to a displaced persons camp (IDP) to 
provide a brief training of the TRM skills for the displaced persons during one of our last afternoons in Kenya. The TRI team was welcomed into the camp and there was an eagerness to learn the simple skills to help themselves and their families. We were greeted by sweet children who were eager to play with the colorful stickers we had brought for them.    We left Kenya with a commitment to return.
RWANDA 2007       A TRI team was invited to Rwanda in 2007 through an association with Karen Froming, a forensic psychologist, who had been working in Rwanda for a number of years. The Rwandan people were greatly appreciative of our efforts to bring TRM skills to their communities to help with symptoms that had occurred as a result of the genocide.

KENYA 2007      The Pond Foundation through its Executive Director, Wendy Flick, invited TRI to present at the 5th Annual Conference to end Female Genital Mutilation.  Elaine Miller-Karas and  her assistant, Jessica Karas participated in the dynamic conference and met remarkable men and women from 17 different countries who are working to eliminate this practice from Africa.

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