Tag Archives: Rwanda

What is Global Trauma Recovery Institute all about? Check out this video


At the beginning of 2013, Biblical Seminary launched Global Trauma Recovery Institute to train recovery specialists here and around the world. We’re small but thus far we have taken 20 students through 120 hours of continuing education, another 15 have just begun, and we are now preparing some of those first students to travel to Rwanda to observe and participate in trauma recovery training with local caregivers. Those students we serve are from or located in three continents plus the United States. In addition, we have represented GTRI in trainings in South Africa and Rwanda this year as well as engaged Christian counselors in Romania during one of their trainings. Our hope for 2014 includes more of this kind of training as well as our first immersion trip with students. Think we are just focused on the international scene? No! The “abuse in the church” video on the right hand bar of this site was sponsored by GTRI as well.

Maybe you wonder what we do and how we handle cross cultural challenges. Check out this short 3 minute video below to see our (myself and Diane Langberg) heart for raising up capable recovery specialists here and around the world as they follow Jesus into the world.

Want to support? After viewing the video, please consider supporting us with prayer and even tax-deductible donations. If you do choose to donate, this link will bring you to a donation page. You can give to the seminary’s general fund (without their support, GTRI would NOT exist!) or you can give a specific gift to GTRI. Just note that in the comments section. Your gifts will enable us to serve more international students and to begin the formation of learning cohorts on other continents!

[Note: Link on image is broken, click here to see the video]

GTRI Video Image1

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Filed under Biblical Seminary, christian counseling, counseling, counseling skills, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma

Solving the problem of isolation among counselors around the world


Last night, Diane Langberg, myself, and AACC hosted a small meeting of friends interested in starting counseling associations in their home countries. We had visitors from Romania, Ukraine, Lebanon, Brazil, Ghana, Nigeria, and Rwanda. Each representative gave a bit of a status

A few of the attendees

A few of the attendees

update for their country.  Each of these countries has Christian counseling activities (counseling, training, etc.) underway in their country and each wants to  be better able to hold these counselors to a higher standard of skill and ethics. Some of the countries have formed associations and are applying for government recognition. Others are in the process and are looking for more help in developing association standards.

But the problem of isolation may not be solved by an association. Each person who spoke raised 2 serious concerns:

  1. Our secular colleagues think we are not professionals but merely faith healing quacks
  2. Our pastor friends think we are not really Christian because we have studied psychology and counseling

It is apparent that we need to do a better job to communicate and illustrate how Christian counseling can be biblically AND psychologically sound. If we do not, any association built will merely become a ghetto. This is not to say that we shouldn’t build associations. The opposite is true. But, unless we learn to speak theologically about the nature and purpose of counseling, we likely won’t get very far.

Reducing Isolation with Technology?

I’m curious if anyone might have ideas about the best way to have these friends stay in contact and to share documents that might help each other develop their own associations. We have a number of ethics codes here in the US but I imagine that some significant portion of those codes may not be appropriate in other contexts. If our friends in Ghana develop an ethics code, wouldn’t it be great if they could easily share it with associations in other African countries. So, is there an existing, SIMPLE, low-bandwidth, platform out there that works best for staying in touch and sharing items and yet is protected by login?

I long for the day when those who are resource rich (content) will be willing to freely distribute to brothers and sisters around the world, and that day when we all eschew holding tightly to those resources in order to build our own kingdom. I am indeed grateful for the leadership AACC is taking in bringing these individuals together and to resource them in some very generous ways! May we all follow suit!

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Filed under AACC, christian counseling, Christianity: Leaders and Leadership

Telling Painful Memories: Recommendations for Counselors


[What is below was shared with Rwandan caregivers and counselors. It is written in simpler English and has no footnotes. Academically oriented readers will recognize the interventions come from narrative exposure therapy models for children].

Counselors invite others to tell their stories of pain, heartache, fears, and traumas so that they can find relief from their troubles. However, not every way of talking about past problems is helpful and some ways of talking can actually harm the person. So, it is important that all caregivers and counselors understand how to help others tell their difficult stories in ways that invite recovery and do not harm.

Good Storytelling Practices

Counselors who do the following can encourage healthy and safe storytelling of difficult events:

  1. Allow the client to tell their story at their own pace without pressure
  2. Allow the client not to tell a part of their story
  3. Use silence and body language to show interest
  4. Encourages the use of storytelling without words (art, dance, etc.) or with symbols
  5. Ensures the difficult stories start and end at safe points
  6. Encourages good coping skills before story telling
  7. Points out resiliency and strength in the midst of trauma
  8. Encourages the story to be told from the present rather than reliving the story

Unhelpful Practices

Here are some things that we should avoid doing when helping another tell a difficult story

  1. Frequent interruptions
  2. Forcing the person to tell their story
  3. Asking the person to relive the story
  4. Avoiding painful emotions
  5. Exhorting the person to get over the feelings; telling them how to feel
  6. Only talking about the trauma, ignoring strengths and other history
  7. Ending a session without talking about the present or a safe place

**Trigger Warning: rape, threatened violence

A Case Study With 2 Storytelling Interventions

Patience, a 13 year old girl, suffered a rape on her way to school last month. The rapist’s family paid a visit to the girl’s family and offered money as a token of penance. The girl’s father accepted the money because, “nothing can make the rape go away so we will take the money for now.” Patience was told by some family members to not tell anyone about the rape and to just act as if it never happened. However, Patience is suffering from nightmares, refuses to go to school, and sometimes falls down when she catches a glimpse of the rapist in town. Her father has threatened to beat her if she doesn’t return to school or help out with the chores at home. Her favorite aunt, a counselor/caregiver, learns about the rape and asks her to come for a visit in a nearby city.

[Warning: these two interventions are not designed to rid a person immediately of all trauma symptoms. In addition, these interventions must be used only after a counselor has formed a trusting relationship with the client.]

  1. Symbolic story telling. The aunt tells Patience that keeping a story bottled up inside can cause problems, like shaking a bottle of soda until it bursts out. Using a long piece of rope (representing her entire life) and flowers (representing positive experiences) and rocks (representing difficult experiences), the aunt directs Patience to tell her life story. They start with her first memories of her mother, father and two brothers. She tells of her going to school, the time when her mother got really sick but then got better again, the time when her cousins moved away, and the time when a boy told her he liked her. Patience noticed how she had many flowers along the rope and only a few rocks. Then, they put a large stone down on the rope representing the rape. Patience had difficulty saying much at all. She remembered being afraid, the weight of the man, the pain, and worry that her family would reject her. She remembered getting up and going to school and acting as if nothing happened. Her aunt noted that Patience was a strong girl—she had gone to school for a week before telling her mother. So, Patience placed a tiny flower next to the rock to represent that strength. After stopping for a cup of tea and some bread, the aunt asked Patience to notice how much more rope was left. This represented her future. Patience was surprised to see the rope and said that she didn’t think she would have a future now that she was spoiled. Her aunt encourages her to consider what she would like to be in her future. They continued to discuss this over the next day. By the time Patience returned home, she was able to see that she still had a future. Seeing the rapist still bothered her. However, she was able to go to school with two friends along a new path so that she would feel safe. Patience kept a drawing of the rope with the flowers and rocks and extra rope to remind her that she had a good future.
  2. Accelerated Storytelling. About six months later, Patience visited her aunt again. She was still going to school and able to do more chores (getting firewood and buying food in the market). However, she still suffered from nightmares and sometimes fell down when she heard footsteps behind her. This time, her aunt asked her to help create a “movie” of event. Before Patience was to narrate the rape, they first recounted the safety she felt at home before the rape and the safety she felt when she told her mother about the rape and was comforted. Next, her aunt asked her to identify all of the “actors” in the play: her mother, father, herself, brothers who went to school without her, classmates, teacher, and rapist. Patience then made a figurine out of paper for each actor and drew a small map of her village including the path from home to school. Then, the aunt asked her to tell her story as fast as she could from safe place to safe place and to only look at the figurines (and to move them along the map). Her aunt noted those places where Patience slowed down in the story. When she paused, the aunt asked her to try to keep moving. Once the story was complete (when she told her mother about the rape), she asked Patience to tell the story backwards as quickly as possible. Then, she instructed Patience to tell the story forwards again twice as fast. However, this time, Patience stopped part way through the story. She added one detail she had not disclosed before. She recalled that a young boy of about 5 was peering at them from behind some bushes. Her aunt encouraged her to finish the story and thanked her for her courage. Patience indicated that she was so ashamed of being seen in such a position. Again, her aunt thanked her for working so hard but asked her to tell her story forwards and backwards one more time. Patience noticed that she was less upset by the presence of the 5 year old than she had been the first time through the story.

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Tuza 2.0: Day Six and Seven


[June 28-29, 2013, Kibuye to Kigali, Rwanda]

Since my little fire mishap in the middle of the night, this conference has gone ever so smoothly. Our only difficulty has been figuring out what to cut since our talks now take twice the time due to translation time. The cuts have been to case studies in order to protect the cherished small group times. I opened our morning session with a devotional on “the cup of sweet water” and our need to address the bitter water that flows out of us. In a conference like this where we talk about domestic violence and sexual abuse, it is easy to think about evil “out there” in its most grotesque images. However, we all have the roots of this evil even if it only show up as pride and arrogance. I ended our devotional reminding us of the grace and hope given us in 1 John 1:9.

Our morning session consisted of Dr. Beverly Ingelse giving a talk about caring and counseling children who have suffered abuse. After a break and a group picture, we returned to our small groups to respond to some of Bev’s questions and to discuss cases. In my group we went fairly off topic to hear how two of our group members survived the genocide and how they are now dealing with children who did not go through the genocide but have symptoms of traumatic reactions (depression over lost Aunts and Uncles, dissociation during memorial periods, chronic fear). Just in these two stories, they counted 115 murdered extended family members! It boggles the mind of those of us who have only read about such experiences.

Just before lunch I gave a brief talk about how to facilitate storytelling in ways that does not further traumatize the teller. We looked at common behaviors of counselors that support recovery and common behaviors that may hinder recovery. Look for those in an upcoming post!

We concluded our conference a few hours earlier than expected so that attendees could return home to manage household duties prior to Saturday’s Umuganda, or monthly required civil service. We concluded with a short “What’s next?” session led by Baraka. A couple of key ideas were proposed and repeated:

  • One day set aside for hearing and responding to case studies
  • Seminars about integrity for pastors and lawyers (apparently, some very public abuse cases (by pastors) have rocked the counseling community in recent months
  • Network building: the attendees discussed formal or informal counselor network (to promote learning, peer supervision, and support. They requested technical assistance from AACC.

After our last lunch overlooking beautiful Lake Kivu, we boarded a bus and returned to Kigali. I sat next to Worship and her mother (a most precious toddler who batted her eyes at me and played peekaboo with me for 3 hours). Arriving in Kigali at dusk, we ended our day with a meal and good conversations.

Day Seven (the last)

The day started quiet and lazy with a savoring of my favorite breakfast: tropical fruit salad, coffee, and a croissant. It is good that it started this way because last night, neighbors of the retreat house decided that midnight to 5 am would be a good time to remove a sheet metal roof. The workers worked diligently and loudly, singing and laughing right outside my window. Around 5 I fell asleep for about 2 hours. These would be the only 2 hours for the next 40 or so.

As this was our last day in Rwanda, some wanted to get a bit of shopping done. I wanted to be sure to get some Rwanda tea and coffee. We hung around until about noon, when the required civil service was completed. Then, we struck out for good places to buy a few items. Though this is my third trip to Rwanda, it is my first to a shopping district. Some of our team looked for dresses, others for artistic work. I bought a few things but mostly enjoyed the people watching (and being people watched). Back at our Solace Ministries, we got our bags ready and watched a Rwandan wedding get underway. We were told after 3 hours that the bride had yet to make an appearance and that this is quite common–a good reminder of the differences in time culture!

By 9 pm we were boarding our plane to return home. I found it interesting that much of this flight (including the stop in Uganda) is filled with young (mostly female) adults looking to be college age. Some we spoke with had just spent 6 weeks with a professor and seeing various NGOs at work.

This has been a short but fulfilling trip. I look forward to returning in 1 year with our first round of Global Trauma Recovery students.

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Tuza 2.0: Day Five


[June 27, 2013]. Day two of our three day conference. Today Dr. Barbara Shaffer talked about the problem of marital rape and reviewed 6 common characteristics of some abusive spouses. The participants were very involved in this presentation and the discussion about sex in marriage provoked some interesting debates among the group. The large group discussed the matter of dowry. In Rwanda, a husband’s family agrees to pay an amount to his bride’s family. The price is in terms of a number of cows. A friend told me that nowadays, “cows are kept in the bank.” This tradition gives many men the belief that they have purchased their wife. Now the wife is his (cherished) property. As such, he has rights to her body. Based on the conversation, I would argue that the concept of marital rape might indeed be foreign. One participant asked how 1 Corinthians 7 fit into this discussion. We were able to examine that this passage offers women the right to control their husband’s bodies just as much as he gets to have a say about her body. Not being sure where everyone stood in the debate, I concluded with a reminder that Philippians 2 requires that we emulate Christ in not demanding what we are due but giving it up so as to shine like stars.

After lunch Dr. Langberg presented on dissociation and a group of Rwandan counselors illustrated a counseling scene of dissociation and a counselor’s techniques in calming and grounding. Very well done! Just before the end of this day’s training, Rowan Moore gave a talk about child abuse. Kivu boats

Before dinner, we hired a local young man to take us out onto Lake Kivu in his boat. Ten of us motored out toward Peace Island. We didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Napoleon Island but we rounded several small islands and enjoyed the setting sun. We passed several fishing boats netting the tiny fish that are in the lake. We could feel the stress of the day fade with the lap of the waves. [photo courtesy Laura Captari]

After dinner, we had an evening of celebration. We identified our Barnabas’ (each person secretly wrote notes of encouragement and prayer to another). And of course, there was dancing and laughter. I have come to love the fluid hand motions during dancing and the energetic movements of men and women. Sadly, I  cannot dance to save my life. I have not rhythm. Of course, there was a dance where I had to be front and center. I tried hiding behind a camera but even that did not save me. Still, it was sweet medicine after 2 days of talking trauma, abuse, and violence.

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Filed under AACC, Abuse, counseling, counseling skills, Rape, Rwanda, Uncategorized

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

Tuza 2.0: Day Two


[June 24, 2103]: Kigali to Butare to Kigali

Day starts with a breakfast of croissant, hardboiled egg, dragon fruit, and coffee. Our team left Solace Ministries this morning to have devotions with World Vision Rwanda staff. Met with senior staff and Director George Gitau. He gave a history of WV in Rwanda since 1994. They work in 15 of the 30 sectors in the country. They are working to stop most handouts (e.g., school fees programs) and wean off dependency of international donor dollars as much as possible…and replace with economic development plans. They are helping Rwandans form saving and lending formations. Seemed to be saying that focus on genocide and trauma was passing to work on peace building and prevention curriculum with younger children. Using Christian musicians to bridge the cultural divide in the country. While prevention strategies are a great move, just because 19 years have passed doesn’t mean the trauma of the genocide and aftermath are finished. Transformation of traumatized populations are still needed.

From World Vision we left to visit the One Stop Center, a government institution for women experiencing domestic violence, a place to get medical help and seek justice. We were not allowed in for some reason. At this point, our teams split up. The larger group visited the genocide memorial, had lunch and did a bit of shopping. My group, Diane Langberg, Laura Captari (AACC) and Marianne Millen (student from Biblical) took a 2 hour trip to Butare (AKA Huye) to visit with Bishop Nathan Gasatura of the Anglican church. As board member of the Prostestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS), he brought us to the school and led a meeting with the vice rector and key faculty/staff. PIASS started in 1973 as an institute in theology. They added 2 faculties (what we would call schools) in 2010 and expect to had another by 2017 when they reach university status. In 2 years the school has grown from 300 or so to over 1000. Most classes are held on evenings and most students commute. We discussed possible ways we could support counseling training for pastors and school counselors who want to tackle issues of domestic violence, abuse, addictions, and trauma recovery. Seemed the most logical and realistic way to help is to develop some 1-2 night public seminars and a few short courses (100 hours across 2 weeks) for credit. Those with good skills in training pastors, cross cultural competency, and the specific content specialists would be welcome here.

On a tight schedule we “flew” back to Kigali with our driver Jean Pierre. Anyone looking for a careful driver in Kigali should hire him! By a miracle we narrowly missed hitting a young man who was crossing the road without looking. None of us in the car understand how we did not hit him (traveling at 30 miles an hour). Later, we stopped for our driver to make a call and were mobbed by school children on the way home wanting to try out their English with us.

We arrived back at Solace to go immediately into an impromptu meeting with 20 Bible Society volunteers and workers. The other team members had been listening to how the BS was using Healing Wounds of Trauma material in Kigali and other sectors of the country. We listened to some of their trauma cases: cases of forced rape, genocide victims, and forced abortions after rape. Many reported that HWT is the best material they have had access to over the past 19 year. There was one who felt the same but wished to not start with the chapter about why we suffer as there is some in the country who are inclined to quiet people with such material. I did a short presentation about how to ground individuals who are actively distressed and dissociation. We concluded the evening with a late dinner with the BS volunteers. Another home run by Simeon at Solace!

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Filed under AACC, christian counseling, counseling skills, genocide, ptsd, Rwanda

Tuza 2.0: Day One


We arrived last night in Kigali after 24 hours of traveling. Yet, Solace Ministries Guest house provided an excellent rest (and a great meal).

Today, we started with church on Ndera hill. Well, actually we started with breakfast, my favorite meal in Rwanda: fruit, croissants, and coffee…with a view hard to beat. Church consisted of excellent singing, dancing ( the spirit can move my feet when I am here), testimonies, and choirs. Then, I preached from Jeremiah 29 about prospering in exile. Being translated is a different experience.

3.5 hours in total. It passes like an instant despite the hard benches. I imagine we could learn from Rwandans something about doing church.

After church we went to an elder’s home for lunch and then on to Baraka’s house for a visit. Got to get in her banana grove to see the trees up close and personal. After visiting with her, she took us to a residential home for street boys. 124 in residence. The young man showing us around is one of their first graduates. Fine young man. Many of the boys were on the street due to family violence or substance abuse. The organization has just hired a counselor ( herself a former orphan) just out of school. She has been working for 3 months to assess each child’s needs and to determine which ones will get services. She has no resources and said she greatly desires more training. While we were there we watched some outsiders teach the boys break dancing moves.

The day is ending back at Solace with a jam packed day on tap for tomorrow.

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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