Monday, September 28, 2009

A Busy Week

Trauma Centre staff were extremely busy last week running workshops and seminars all over the place.
We had our first Victim Empowerment training this year for the Dept. of Community Safety, training Trauma Room volunteers. These volunteers work at police stations, containing victims in the initial stages of their response to incidents of criminal violence and trauma.
The Children and Violence team were training parent volunteers, raising awareness and addressing issues of violence.
The Political Violence team together with another NGO, Healing of Memories, held a morning seminar attended by over 50 people in which Professor Sandy Lazarus presented a paper on the root causes of community violence, torture and xenophobia. This was followed by small group discussions in which possible interventions were put forward


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Sunday, September 6, 2009


The focus of the Trauma Centre's work is changing. We have always combined therapeutic with preventive work, partnerships and advocacy. We started in 1993 with addressing the needs of victims of political violence and torture, but by the year 2000, a much larger proportion of our clients were the victims of crime.

2008 was a watershed year for us and for the country. The crisis in Zimbabwe (which meant that many refugees crossed our borders), and the lack of service delivery in our country, led to outbreaks of xenophobic violence in cities and towns. It has led us and many others to try to think more strategically about where to focus our attention. For over a decade the Children and Violence Project has worked to prevent violence in schools, tackling the problem holistically school by school.

Many groups and organisations (e.g. Action for a Safe South Africa) are now trying to think about the root causes of violence in our country as well as strengthening the criminal justice system. Those of us who work in the field of mental health, have a contribution to make because of our understanding of the mechanisms of trans-generational transmission of trauma(International Handbook of Multi-generational Legacies of Trauma edited by Yael Danieli. Plenum Press. New York.1998) and how these intersect within families to produce insecure attachments in the next generation, resulting in aggressive and violent behaviour.(Felicity de Zulueta's "From Pain to Violence: The Traumatic Roots of Destructiveness". Whurr Publishers. London. 1993). The Political Violence Program in their work with the second generation, and the new Gugulethu Project which aims to empower and psychoeducate parents and pre-school children are the pilot projects in which we hope to be able to address these issues.
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What do you think of this newsletter?

We welcome any comments you would like to make about this newsletter. Feedback in the first month came from:
Lorna Levy, Sea Point: I looked through the blog......very interesting. I will now be able to follow the workings of the Trauma Centre by going onto your blogspot! I thought the organisation had folded.
Joseph Schwartz, The Bowlby Centre, London: It's beautiful. The graphics are brilliant. I'd like to consider the art work of Lauraine Vivian as a cover for our next issue. (Blog editor: J. Schwartz is the editor of "Attachment")
Dr Connie Valkin, Johannesburg: SO IMPRESSIVE!! Well done!! I thought it looked beautiful. . GREAT IDEA
Clare Linder, Cape Town: Thank you for the news of the Trauma Centre blog spot. It is beautifully designed and so interesting and such a brilliant idea. I believe it very important to network and keep in touch with what is happening.

Reactions from Trauma Centre Staff Members follow ......

Nicole Paulsen: Absolutely magnificent, the blog is appealing to the eye, the content is enjoyable, the quotes/comments from staff is unique, the blog is an excellent and above all creative way of getting all involved. Photographs (especially of events) always spark interest. Keeping cool - The Trauma Centre Reception Desk was my favourite part. Thanks for putting all this together, the blog truly makes our centre and work come alive and gives us something to always look forward to.
Heidi Wichman: I just checked it out and WOW. Sounds like an organisation I want to work for. I agree with Nicole it makes our work come alive. Really interesting and exciting, I'm even motivated to write something myself. Thanks for the effort, well done.
Miriam Fredericks: Fabulous; looks excellent. Really putting us on the map.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Launch of the Gugulethu Project

Gugu Shabalala and superintendent Ntsezo at the launch

Today -3rd September 2009 - a new community-based project of the Trauma Centre was launched with music, singing, dancing, prayers and speeches at Ikhwesi Community Hall. Gugu Shabalala and Donna Miller have worked tirelessly over the past six months to forge relationships and partnerships with people and organisations in Gugulethu. This was evident at the launch. Organisations present were Ikamva Labantu, Helping Hands, the Department of Community Development and 2 nearby schools. The guest speaker was Superintendent Ntsezo of the South African Police Service. He was very welcoming of the Trauma Centre’s initiative.

In terms of high crime statistics the Western Cape is 10th in the world; Iraq is 7th. He said that Gugulethu (Gugs) is a beautiful community, heavily challenged by crime and agreed with our Director that tackling the underlying causes of violence was the way to go. He pointed out that violence in Gugs is internal; criminals don’t come from elsewhere - young people don’t like where they are in their lives and become trapped in drug use and parents are not supported. He added that the person directly affected by violence is not the only victim – their immediate family, relatives and friends are also traumatised.

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