Harrisonburg, VA (May 5, 2011) – The Center for International Stabilization (CISR) at James Madison University (JMU) and the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC) hosted 29 landmine survivors for a week-long peer support program in Hammama, Lebanon from May 8-15, 2011.
The program, Pathways to Resilience (P2R), was a workshop providing an innovative regional leadership and training program for survivors of landmines and explosive ordnance injuries in the Middle East, and will host participants from Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Yemen. The workshop helped survivors to make meaning of past events, learn to manage emotions in new ways, find social support, personal strength and inspiration. Program activities promoted resilience using experience-based learning followed by reflective observation.
As a final project, organizational leaders and survivors worked together to create plans of action for implementing P2R and peer support programs in their home countries. Activities were coordinated and led in Arabic by selected local staff supported by JMU faculty and Middle Eastern victim assistance experts.
CISR was founded at JMU in 1996 as the Mine Action Information Center and became CISR in 2008. CISR specializes in research, education, information exchange and training with regard to the international effort to combat the effects of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). CISR staff and peer-support specialist coordinated the planning and implementation of P2R.
Faculty from the Departments of Graduate Psychology and Mathematics and Statistics at JMU will be participating in the program to provide therapeutic resources, program evaluation, needs assessments, and follow-up surveys.
LMAC is the coordinating body for all humanitarian mine action activities in Lebanon. It executes and coordinates the Lebanese National Mine Action Program on behalf of Lebanon Mine Action Authority.
As part of its commitment to addressing the harmful effects of landmines on civilians, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided the grant to fund P2R. CISR has identified a need to facilitate the emotional and physical recovery of victims of landmines, and train those survivors to help others in need within their countries of origin.
“P2R provides a unique opportunity for participants to develop self-confidence, emotional and physical health and life direction for while empowering them to help other survivors using similar techniques in their own country,” says Dr. Ken Rutherford, Director of CISR. “Peer support is an fundamental part of recovery, and we were fortunate to share this experience with our partners in Lebanon.”
by Cameron Macauley, CISR Peer Support Specialist
On October 1st CISR concluded its third training workshop on peer support for trauma survivors in East Africa. This event was designed for survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide who will volunteer as community peer support workers, providing counseling for other survivors who are still dealing with painful memories and emotions. The workshop participants included thirteen women and seven men between the ages of 28 and 55, all of them survivors of the violence of mid-1994 who witnessed the widespread slaughter of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in their communities in north-central Rwanda. They have distinguished themselves by voluntary community service for others who remain incapacitated by psychological trauma, which brought them to the attention of IBUKA, a nongovernmental organization that assists genocide survivors.
The workshop focused on strengthening counseling skills and enhancing the understanding of the participants in the process of recovery from a life-altering trauma such as the genocide. Exercises included group discussion on the nature of peer support, how to develop a trusting relationship, and enhancing self-determination. Participants conducted a series of role-plays to demonstrate active listening, problem-solving skills and confidence-building techniques.
The workshop was co-facilitated by two Rwandan instructors, Richard Mugabo (formerly with Survivor Corps and now a consultant for DFID), and IBUKA’s Director of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Adelite Mukamana. According to IBUKA’s president, professor of psychology Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu: “IBUKA is relying on support from CISR and James Madison University to become a leader in the psychological rehabilitation of survivors of trauma, for Rwanda and for East Africa, and for survivors around the world.”
CISR is in the process of planning our next training event in Rwanda in 2012.