Thanks to the generous ongoing support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, CISR is proceeding with a series of capacity-building workshops in East Africa. In 2009 the Niarchos Foundation agreed to support the Rwanda peer support program initiated by Survivor Corps, and when Survivor Corps ceased operations the following year, part of this grant was transferred to CISR.
CISR has expanded the original grant to include peer support activities in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Survivors themselves are trained to provide basic counseling and assistance to those who are still recovering from traumatic experiences sustained during conflict. Supervisors are also trained to manage peer support programs and conduct further training of their own. Trainees range from licensed psychologists and trauma counselors to uneducated peer support workers living in rural communities.
Working with local partner organizations, CISR’s peer support specialist Cameron Macauley customizes his training materials so that they conform to the cultural and educational background of the trainees. Stories and examples taken from actual survivors are used to teach techniques in counseling. Special exercises have been designed to teach counseling skills to trainees who do not read or write.
Through this thoughtful assistance, the Niarchos Foundation has during 2011 supported the training of 10 counselors and psychologists and 55 peer support workers in Rwanda and Burundi. Peer support programs in these countries and also in Uganda will help thousands of survivors deal with their painful memories and emotions and promote their full recovery. This work will create a healthier, safer society and will diminish the chances of violence in the future.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (www.SNF.org) is one of the world’s leading international philanthropic organizations, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and medicine, and social welfare. While prominent in its support of Greek-related initiatives, the Foundation’s activities are worldwide in scope.
Photos and text by Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support Specialist