Tag Archives: Kigali

Tuza 2.0: Day Four


[June 26, 2013]

The conference has begun. We have 30 high level caregivers here, 17 of whom attended Tuza 1.0. One of the things we expect is that all of the planning as to how long things will take does not ensure we will be able to stay on schedule. While we expect it, it requires a lot more cultural sensitivity and flexibility than us Westerners usually like to display. When I go to a conference, I don’t want to “waste” time playing games and getting to know my neighbors. Just fill my head up with knowledge, thank you very much. But that is not the way most of the world lives. So, our conference began, appropriately so, getting to know each other. Truth be told, this kind of beginning is necessary if we are going to trust each other!

Our first session included a short review of basic helping skills followed by a roleplay with Carol King. After a large group discussion, we broke attendees up into groups of 4 to form quads (counselor, counselee, and 2 observers). Many attendees remarked at how helpful the quads were for practicing skills. It seems that most have not had this experience before.

After coffee break (coffee plus a bowl containing a little donut with peppers and carrots inside and little fried (whole) fish!), one of our attendees presented a case for large group discussion. The case was of a teen who had experienced sex trafficking and was severely wounded in an attempt to kill her.

Our afternoon session featured a presentation by Dr. Barbara Shaffer on the topic of domestic violence. She spoke about the common cycle of domestic violence (tension building–>violence–>calm), the basis for protection from the scriptures, and gave basic goals when meeting with a person who is domestically abused.

During our large group discussion, we heard from several men and women that men are increasingly abused in Rwanda society. There was some discussion about how much this is an issue. It appears that since the genocide, women have had greater need to be independent and so traditional relationships between men and women are disrupted. Women, these individuals claimed, are more likely to be argumentative than in past eras. Also, we learned that in a separation, children under 7 may be forced to go with the father (or his family) since children belong to the father and not the mother. Not all attendees agreed with this view. We ended the day with small group discussions about how to tell when a person is experiencing domestic violence and how to engage that person in some basic information gathering and invitation to talk further.

One of the major changes we have in our schedule is the fact that we decided it was important to translate in real-time. We had planned that English proficiency would be high enough to do the training in English. However, it appears that substantial concepts are being missed. Even though this doubles the time it takes to do a talk and training, we  believe this is best for the attendees. We give them written text of the talk in English and at the same time give it orally in English and Kinyarwandan.

Some of us ended our work day with a fun swim in Lake Kivu. The water was a perfect temperature and clear many feet down. We swam for about 40 minutes then got ready for dinner. The swim was refreshing after a long day of concentrating and listening. Listening across accents and experiences can really wear you out.

A Funny Anecdote:

Charging phones and readers can be quite a challenge in Africa. You can have a converter and the right plug and find out that your device will not charge. For some reason, I could not charge my phone or nook while in Kigali. However, I was grateful to find that I could charge my devices in my room here at Bethany Centre. Well, last night I awoke at midnight to flames shooting out of my converter right at my head and mosquito net. I yelled, “FIRE” and quickly yanked the blackened plastic out of the wall while sparks continued to fall on flammable material. Thankfully, nothing caught on fire. I opened the patio door and threw the converter outside. My room stunk of that awful burnt plastic smell. In my stupor I wondered if I should call the front desk and ask them to make sure there wasn’t any ongoing problems with the outlet. As I stood thinking about it, I heard/saw outside flourescent lights grow tremendously brighter and then explode, first one, then another, then another. Deciding that I now needed to call the front desk, I turned the light on so I could dial the phone. The overhead light also exploded and sparks fell to the bed/net below. Again, I pounced wanting to make sure nothing caught fire. It did not. I used my phone light to dial the front desk. Minutes later, a sleepy voiced answered. I requested someone come soon to check on me and to ensure something wasn’t terribly wrong. No one came. The next morning I related my story and learned that several others had no power and their lights blew as well. Later we learned that some wires crossed and caused the power surge. It ended well and we had no further electrical problems the rest of the conference.

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Filed under AACC, Africa, christian counseling, counseling, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychology, Relationships, Rwanda

Tuza 2.0: Day Three


[June 25, 2013: Kigali to Kibuye]

Our day started with devotions with IJM staff at their office in Kigali. After devotions we met with the social work staff on a beautiful balcony overlooking the city to hear about their work with victims, the process of getting information to determine View from IJMif they could take the legal case and the counseling they could offer. IJM offers TF-CBT informed therapy for parents and child victims. You could hear the heartache as the counselors can only offer counseling to those whose cases IJM agrees to investigate and work for prosecution. They do what they can in those cases where abuse has happened but lack necessary evidence for courts. Unfortunately, there are few options for referral.

After IJM we proceeded to go to Ndera Psychiatric Hospital. As the ONLY psychiatric inpatient facility in the country of 11 million people, they about 350 beds. Do the math! About half of their patients are those with serious seizure disorders. Those in the crisis units have severe psychotic and disruptive behaviors. We saw one man who was stark naked. When asked about census, we discovered that while they have 60 or so beds for men in crisis, their current census is 78. Meaning, men share cots for sleeping!

We visited the stabilization units for men and women, the pharmacy, and kids ward [Picture below is of the daily schedule for kids in picture form]. It seemed that the hospital has a fewkid schedule more medications available to use since our last visit in 2009. Then, they only had access to Haldol. Now, they have some atypicals like Risperadone. Most stay at the hospital for about 3 weeks, though we were told that someone was in the crisis unit since 2001!

After the hospital, we intended to take a trip to one of the church memorials in Nyamata. However, we were running late so we returned to Solace for lunch and discussions with Bishop Alexis, an Anglican Bishop. Bishop has been engaging with us since 2009 for counseling help. He suggested that we come next time with a plan to engage key principles for a country-wide  response so that we avoid overlap.

By 3pm, we were on our way to Centre Bethanie on Lake Kivu in Kibuye. Our bus was packed with people and luggage. The road from Kigali to Kibuye has more twists, turns and vistas than you can possibly imagine. Lovely drive, though long. Finally, we arrived 3 hours later (after dark) to the conference center. Dinner was served in the restaurant (open sides to the lake!).

Today was a full day in many ways. One fun item: I received an African shirt from other team members. Wore it with pride today. One serious item: on our trip to Kibuye, I sat next to a man who told me his genocide story. Lost wife and 2 children. Survived hiding in the reeds for over a month. He told me how the Lord spoke to him about forgiving his family’s killers and how now he is doing reconciliation work with victims and perpetrators. I am amazed at his strength and struggles.

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Filed under Africa, counseling, Rwanda, trauma

Trauma Recovery and Counseling Training in Rwanda


Location map of Rwanda Equirectangular project...

Location map of Rwanda Equirectangular projection. Geographic limits of the map: N: 0.9° S S: 3.0° S W: 28.7° E E: 31.1° E (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I leave today for my second favorite place in the world–Rwanda. (1st favorite is wherever my wife and kids are). We are returning to do another level of training for counselors and caregivers (see this post for our previous Project Tuza reports) from a number of organizations caring for widows, orphans, HIV+ individuals, and trauma victims. [The photo at the top of this blog is from that last training] Our training this time will focus on domestic or family violence interventions, children and sexual abuse, and dealing with dissociation. In addition, we’ll focus on basic helping/listening skills and the features of good storytelling in counseling (not all efforts to tell trauma stories are helpful or healing).

Check back here to see posts about our training. I hope to be able to make some during our trip, but depending on connections, it may have to wait til we return. Here’s our itinerary:

6/21-6/22: Newark to Brussels to Kigali

6/23-25: church (preaching), visiting friends, important sites, meetings in preparation for this and future trainings; in both Kigali and Butare.

6/26-28: 3 full days and 2 nights of training, led and sponsored by World Vision Rwanda and AACC.

6/29: Participate in Umuganda (national required public service in Rwanda), final meetings, and boarding the plane to return home.

It is a short trip but we are able to,

  • give our new team members experiences in listening to the strengths and challenges of a community (essential to provide help that is not harmful or useless)
  • provide objective hands-on skill training (not mere information giving)
  • seek advice of local leaders as to future trainings (we always need to improve our ability to train well)
  • Enhance our relationships (Lord willing, we will continue to return year after year)

Check back for updates.

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Filed under Abuse, christian counseling, christian psychology, counseling, counseling skills, Uncategorized

DRC/Rwanda Trip: Day 8


Tuesday, October 18, 2011, Kigali

Today is our first relaxed day of the trip. We begin the day by having devotions with the staff at IJM. Josh led them in some thoughts from the book of James on themes of justice and justified. The Apostle Paul illustrates the payment (transaction) for justification found in the cross. James points us to the evidence (receipt) of our justification found in our works that prove we have been justified. There is no faith without works.

After devotions, we went to a very American looking cafe to have coffee and to go

Good coffee good colleagues

over the conference plans with IJM employee and counselor Baraka Unwingeneye. She and Josephine Munyeli (WorldVision) are our co-laborers and without them we would not be able to do this work. Our planning helps us nail down tomorrow’s conference efforts. We know we have good ideas for days 2 and 3 but we must be flexible and alter what we want to do for what can be done well.

Walked back to Solace for lunch and then out for a stroll of nearby streets with Carol. Just prior to dinner we received a visit from Rev. Nathan Ndyamiyemenshi at ALARM. He took us to see their retreat property on a lovely hill on the edge of Kigali. A beautiful spot for anyone who would want to take a group to Rwanda. One of the buildings had a plaque stating that it was a donation from Calvary Church of Souderton!

On the return to Solace, we stopped off to by Rwandan coffee beans to bring home. Speaking of home, I am getting homesick. While it is good to have a restful day, I am ready to get on with our conference and go home. Good that we start tomorrow.

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Filed under counseling, Rwanda, trauma

Trauma Recovery Work in Africa: Itinerary


Those of you interested in trauma recovery work can feel free to pray through our upcoming trip and itinerary (as well as for our families!). Our team (Diane Langberg, Carol King, Josh Straub, Baraka Unwingeneye, Josephine Munyeli, and me) will be providing a 3 day trauma recovery training for Rwandan nationals October 19-21 funded by generous donors from the AACC and WorldVision. Diane and I are leaving early for some assessment work with the American Bible Society and national bible societies in the region.

  • Oct 10-11: DL and PM to Entebbe, Uganda to meet up with African and American Bible Society leaders
  • Oct 12: DL and PM (via MAF plane) to Bunia, DRC to meet with Bible Society workers and those receiving care
  • Oct 13: DL and PM (via MAF plane) to Beni, DRC to meet with seminary/university professionals; then on to Goma, DRC
  • Oct 14-16: DL and PM meeting with Bible Society staff, trauma victims, and trauma recovery workers in Goma, DRC
  • Oct 14: JS and CK to leave for Kigali, RW
  • Oct 17: DL and PM to drive from Goma, DRC to Kigali, RW
  • Oct 18: Meetings, prep for conference
  • Oct 19-21: Conference lead by BU, JM, DL, JS, CK, and PM for WorldVision workers, clergy, educators, and others
  • Oct 21: Leave Kigali
  • Oct 22: Arrive Philadelphia

Pray for health, safety, ability to listen well, to teach well and to be flexible. Pray for our families in just the same way.

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Filed under "phil monroe", AACC, christian counseling, christian psychology, Democratic Republic of Congo, Goma, Rwanda, teaching counseling, trauma

Baking Cakes in Kigali: Book Note


I have just finished Baking Cakes in Kigali, by Gaile Parkin (Bantam Books, 2010). This is BY FAR, the best book I have read this year. I would urge anyone interested in understanding life in Rwanda as well as life of women in much of the world. It is a novel but it conveys in beautiful artistic phrases and tones the experience of a woman who must overcome much adversity, who must understand her world, who must come to terms with her own difficult history and help those in your community overcome their own difficulties.

Read it if you want to see beautiful images of lay counseling, of family and relational challenges, of hope and realistic images of healing. Gaile Parkin is a counselor and it shows. She gets interpersonal relationships, trauma, and how to weave a story together.

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Filed under Abuse, counseling, Rwanda