Posts tagged burundi
Posts tagged burundi
In April, CISR Peer Support Specialist Cameron Macauley returned to Burundi to assist in the training of new peer support workers for a program expansion into Bujumbura, Burundi’s capital. CISR’s Burundian partner since 2010, CEDAC (Center for the Education and Development for Ex-Combatants) operates a highly successful program for survivors of war-related violence in Muramvya, a community about 20 miles east of the capital. CEDAC’s peer-support workers provide counseling and psychosocial support to survivors who are recovering from traumatic experiences suffered during Burundi’s civil conflict, which ended in 2006.
With support from CISR, CEDAC implemented a new monitoring and evaluation system last June to assess the results of its work with 363 survivors. Preliminary data suggests that CEDAC’s services are overwhelmingly successful, with 99 percent of survivors reporting positive changes in their lives as a direct result of peer support.
With generous assistance from Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), a London-based nongovernmental organization, CEDAC will begin providing services in Bujumbura, where thousands of war survivors still need assistance. This most recent training prepared 30 women with disabilities to offer peer support in the capital. CEDAC’s supervisors were also trained to respond to issues related to disability, such as discrimination, domestic violence, and lack of access to schools, clinics and government buildings. Participants also learned how to help survivors overcome low self-esteem and how to build self-confidence.
“With help from CISR and AOAV we hope to eventually become a national organization,” said Eric Niragira, CEDAC’s executive director. “We look forward to the day when all war survivors can participate fully in Burundian society.”
~ Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support and Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist
Burundi has secured more than $2 billion (1.5 billion euros) in aid from international donors after requesting help toward financing development programmes over the next four years, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The country had asked for $1.1 billion at a two-day donor conference, “but we ended up with more than $2 billion registered commitments at the conference,” Pamphile Muderega of the National Aid Coordination Committee said in a statement released by the UN’s development agency.
“This represents a doubling of our already optimistic expectations.”
During the first week of October, CISR Peer Support Specialist Cameron Macauley visited Burundi to supervise the peer support program operated in conjunction with Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) and the Center for Development of Ex-Combatants (CEDAC). The trip included individual visits to war survivors receiving peer support services and a first look at a survey of 756 residents of communities in Muramvya, a province in northwest Burundi.
When the survey data is analyzed, it will provide a snapshot of mental health in this population, which was severely affected by war-related violence during the 15-year conflict. Survivors describe mass executions, rape, torture and forced conscription. Very little has been done to help survivors deal with their psychological trauma.
The peer support program consists of home visits by 30 peer support workers and has been in operation since June 2012. Survivors give enthusiastically positive opinions of the services they received. “No one showed much interest in my problems until the peer support worker began to visit me,” said Joseph Ntawanka, a 70-year-old who was the lone survivor of a massacre in which 32 people died. “Now I have help in solving my problems, and I am thinking in new ways about the past. I have hope that the future will be better.”
“I have been lonely and sad since I lost my arm during the violence that devastated my community,” said Languide Nsabiyumva. “A woman with one arm is nobody—people act as if she doesn’t exist. But my peer support worker cares about me, wants me to feel better. She has made me think about myself differently. When I talk to her I feel as if my life has meaning once again.”
For peer support workers the days are long and strenuous: Many homes are remote and accessible only on foot. However, the rewards of helping others make every step worthwhile. “Even when I’m not working, I think about the people that I’m trying to help,” said Candide Nsabiyumva. “Knowing that I can make a difference in their lives is an inspiration for me.”
Monitoring and evaluation data collected by CEDAC on hundreds of survivors will be analyzed during the next few months and used to improve program activities during 2013. “Each day brings new refinements to this program,” says CEDAC Director Eric Niragira. “We look forward to expanding into new communities and eventually helping the entire nation. We are assisting each other to recover from Burundi’s violent past.”
~ Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support Specialist
In partnership with the British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), CISR staff created a system to monitor and evaluate the impact of a psychosocial support program for victims of armed violence in Burundi. The program, operated by the Center for Development for Ex-Combatants (CEDAC), a Burundian NGO, has been in operation since 2009 but has recently received significant funding which will allow it to enlarge its administration and implement a new system for monitoring and evaluation.
During the first week of June, CISR conducted a workshop for 25 women with disabilities in Bujumbura, Burundi in partnership with the Burundian nongovernmental organization Centre d’Encadrement et de Développement des Anciens Combattants (CEDAC) and the British NGO Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). CISR Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist Cameron Macauley trained the women on peer support’s concepts and basic activities, focusing on the needs and challenges in the lives of disabled women in Burundi. AOAV is also providing training on the rights of people with disabilities.
Approximately 15 percent of the Burundi population is disabled, and women in this group often do not have access to education. Only about 25 percent of disabled Burundian women can read and write.
The trainees were women from several communities in which CEDAC offers services. Among other disabilities, women in the group had upper and lower-limb amputations, paraplegia and hemiplegia. Also included were five women who work with local NGOs that provide services to women with disabilities.
“This training has been very useful in showing us how to help each other,” said Ndagijimana Gloriose of Muramvya Commune. “We are usually considered to be the beneficiaries of services, but now we can provide support for each other. Thanks to CISR and CEDAC for giving us new skills.”
The Center for Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University is proud to announce that one of our programs, Training of Illiterate and Semiliterate Women Ex-combatants in Burundi, was nominated and accepted as one of the top 25 candidates for the annual Women Deliver Awards in the Educational Initiatives category. It is No. 15 in the Educational Initiatives category. Here is what it is about:
NOTE: You will have to “Like” Women Deliver on Facebook to vote in the contest. You must vote for 10 projects in each of the 5 categories to be able to submit your vote, and you can only vote once.
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
by Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support Specialist
The Burundi Peer Support Training Workshop for Non-Literate and Semi-Literate Women concluded today after a very enjoyable, successful week. The 25 women who participated expressed great satisfaction and displayed an impressive range of peer support skills at the end of the workshop. There was enthusiastic thanks for CISR’s patronage and repeated requests for us to return for further educational events.
The workshop content proved well-designed for this particular audience, although we discovered that it was necessary to adjust teaching methodology to a few cultural characteristics specific to Burundi. First, much of the course is built around question-and-answer dialogue between facilitator and participants. It seems, however, that Burundian women who have not attended school are unused to this format, and they tended to respond in the traditional Burundian style, that is, lengthy speeches or stories meant to illustrate a point or respond to a question.
Another issue we encountered was a distinct problem related to a discussion of “goals and objectives”. Peer support workers are encouraged to help survivors establish goals, however women in Burundi almost never determine their course of action alone: decisions are made in groups, in the family, and frequently by men in this patriarchal society. They felt uncomfortable and a bit skeptical that an individual woman could determine her own activities by herself.
Despite these hurdles, the women all proved to be intelligent, perceptive and highly resilient. Most of them volunteered stories about their lives in which they proudly described participating as soldiers in combat. Rather than garnering praise and respect for their service, they were instead usually subjected to rape, torture and abuse, in
many cases for years on end. Their fortitude under these conditions is profoundly admirable.
CISR and CEDAC have contributed greatly to these women’s lives by building their skills and bolstering their self-confidence. I certainly hope we will continue to implement program activities in Burundi.