Monday, October 12, 2009

Bruises - some welcome; others painful!

On a weekend in early October, the Political Violence Team facilitated a camp for the offspring of anti-apartheid activists, torture survivors and ex-combatants i.e. the second generation.
This is what one of the facilitators, Carmen Low-Shang wrote on her return. This work is both difficult and rewarding:
We had a wonderful camp with participants making emotional connections all over the place...
So our process this weekend still has me speechless...
And at the same time, I want to tell you all that it really was not easy!!!

For some reason, or maybe the fact that we had 30 teenagers on our hands, it was absolute CHAOS!!! I suppose that's normal to some extent. Being aware that I may be writing on behalf of the others, the weekend really brought some serious challenges, and I think all facilitators (Nicole, Miliswa, Trevor, Fiona and myself) were really pushed and in some ways we have taken an (emotional) and physical bruising!!! (Two of the facilitators were ill the next day and unable to come into work!) We were confronted with resistance of the most stubborn kind, fighting, lying, stealing, disrespecting!!! And we also had 200+ steps climbing down and back up the mountain just to enjoy the beach!!! OUCH!!!
Our lives have all been changed forever... and best of all... We made it through - survived, together!
Carmen went on to explain why she feels the camp changed her life:

My life's work is to make a positive difference in the lives of others. A particular moment at the camp where I and other facilitators felt very touched, was the way in which one participant (who has been through the camp process for the 4th time!) was able to release emotion – she was crying - but it was a "peaceful" and calm release which made us feel that yes, it was a powerful moment in her life. Yet at the same time she seemed very comfortable to release her emotions in our presence. I'll just add that this particular participant gave us "hell" on the first camp. She had a resistance to engaging with us of the worst kind. We were unable to break through up until now. It is seeing the change and knowing that you have touched someone's life in a way... that they are then able to forgive their parents and we are able to bridge the gap between the two generations...

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Farewell to Terry Dowdall

Prof. Leslie London, Dr Terry Dowdall and Dr Shuaib Manjra
On October 1st, at a small AGM, the Trauma Centre, in bidding farewell to Terry Dowdall, acknowledged the enormous contribution that he made to the Trauma Centre; first of all, by starting it together with Leslie London, and then serving on its board for 17 years. Dr Dowdall spoke poignantly of the journey he had made as a white South African and a psychologist when he was first asked to provide services to ex-detainees who had experienced torture during the 70's, leading him eventually to setting up the Trauma Centre and serving on its Board.

More to follow......

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Training for Trauma Rooms

Trauma Centre Staff together with practitioners from Rape Crisis and Nicro recently developed a standardised basic training for new Victim Support Volunteers who work in Trauma Rooms at police stations across the Western Cape. This training is now being rolled out sponsored by Business Against Crime and the Department of Community Safety. So far the Trauma Centre has completed two of these 3-day trainings for volunteers coming from different police stations. These volunteers are mostly women with families and busy lives and yet they give up evenings and weekends to be in the frontline of support for victim/survivors.
Miriam Fredericks, who did the second training, wrote: The participants were amazing - people with such compassion and so dedicated. I was humbled by their strength and honoured to be in their presence.

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