Friday, November 12, 2010

Invitation to Dialogue about Recent Gang Violence

The Trauma Centre will be hosting a Dialogue about recent gang violence at the Slave Lodge, Adderley Street on Tuesday November 23rd at 10.00 am.  
All Welcome. Please RSVP to 021 4657373.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

New South African Book on Trauma

TRAUMATIC STRESS IN SOUTH AFRICA by Debra Kaminer and Gillian Eagle

Invitation to the Launch - 21st September, 5.30pm. The Book Lounge, Roeland St. cnr Buitenkant, Cape Town

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Slavery has gone indoors....

The elegant interior of the IDASA building on Spin street was the venue for a moving multimedia launch of the Embrace Dignity campaign against Human Trafficking. Care, respect and beauty went into every aspect of this event, which included music, poetry, song and an art and video exhibition. The venue itself faces the old Slave Market; now aptly memorialised with large engraved granite blocks where before, and for many years, there was the Church Square car park.
The founder of the Campaign, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, introduced Ruchira Gupta, the President of a sister organisation in India with 10,000 members. Where once human slaves were sold in open slave markets, they are now sold on the Internet. Slavery has indeed gone indoors; and it is a global industry involving children, pornography and sexual exploitation. In the Dakar room, you can see a wonderful artwork by Ruth Carneson which seems to both capture the resilience and the fragility of women who are trafficked for sex work - the violent rupture of intimate spaces. It echoes the photographic exhibitions of faces that one sees commemorating genocides in places where these have taken place. Lastly,...

you will be entranced by an installation by Ed Young called "Arch" - an exuberant Desmond Tutu in full regalia flying from a chandelier! Part of the permanent collection I presume. The exhibition and events will continue for the rest of the week.

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Friday, July 9, 2010

Creativity in Adversity

Siphora Designs

Francise has experienced many xenophobic attacks and threats since coming to South Africa from the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001.

Nevertheless she is not one who allows herself to become depressed by her situation. She set up Siphora Designs and works from home designing and making impeccably crafted cushions using imported materials. She takes orders by e-mail: and the cushions sell for R100 for small sizes to R250 for large ones.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Different Kind of World Cup!

You might be interested to check out a US-based blog: The Refuge Media Project which aims to create films and discussion about refugee issues and torture. They are reporting on a Refugee World Cup which was held in the San Francisco Bay Area and another one that is due to happen in the Boston Area on June 19th. What a brilliant idea! Did anyone think of it for South Africa? Given the threats that refugees are experiencing in Cape Town about what might happen to them after the World Cup is over(see Cape Times of 4th and 7th June), this could be just the kind of "welcome" the refugee community could do with.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Friday, June 4, 2010

And Now...............Lots of Changes.

I would like to thank the people who continue to access the Trauma Centre's blogspot despite there having been no new posts for 2 months. Work at the Centre and special events like a camp for prefects (run by CVP) and for ex-combatants (run by PVP) have continued. Further Community conversations have also happened.

However, there have been some recent resignations in addition to two at the end of February when Carmen Low-Shang and Nicole Paulsen left the Centre. In the first week of April our Director Vimla Pillay (a major supporter of this blog), resigned. A week later, Rochelle Carelse, the Financial Administrator handed in her resignation and about a week after that, I, your Blog Editor resigned from the Trauma Response Program. Currently Miriam Fredericks is the Acting Director of the Trauma Centre. As we head for the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa the Trauma Centre is gearing up to offer counselling resource to the City in the event of accidents or disasters.

It is not yet clear to me whether the blog will continue or not. However it is unlikely that I will be able to keep in touch with events at TC to the extent I was able in the past, so one way or another the blog is going to change. I have so enjoyed being able to communicate about our work to the over one thousand unique visitors we have had since I started the blog at the end of August 2009. Thank you all so much for being our national and international audience, and contributing to our feeling of having connections all over the planet. Read More or Comment

Monday, March 29, 2010

Out and About

Your blog editor was out and about at events around Cape Town in March. I attended a workshop on Transgenerational Transmission of Trauma presented by Professor Kaethe Weingarten from Harvard Medical School. She talked about the need to consider the impact on child witnesses in situations of violence. Their psychobiological response to violence is similar to that of the victims. They too become transmitters of transgenerational trauma. To appreciate the depth of her work and thinking, take a look at her website, The Witnessing Project.
The following week Miriam Fredericks and I attended a stimulating symposium organised by Debbie Kaminer from the Psychology Department at UCT on Continuous Traumatic Stress in South Africa: Towards a Collaborative Research Agenda. It was an impressive gathering......

of academics, researchers and practitioners, including partners like Ilse Ahrends from SBC and Monica Bandeira from CSVR. Craig Higson-Smith, our consultant on many issues especially monitoring and evaluation, responded in his usual incisive way to an important
paper on Continuous Trauma presented by Sarah Crawford-Browne and Lane Benjamin (both former colleagues). Lane used the work of the community organisation she started in Hanover Park, (CASE) to try to understand this phenomenon. Other former colleagues from the Trauma Centre who participated were Kirsten Thompson and Wonique Dreyer. Sia Maw, now a lecturer at UCT, discussed the challenges she has encountered in using different research instruments to measure the extent of trauma in women who have been raped. We began to discuss how we might collaborate and we decided to have another symposium next year.

Craig Higson Smith has an excellent website full of resources; he shares his clear thinking on many issues, and even flags job opportunities in far-flung places!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Human Rights Open Day

The Trauma Centre hosted an Open Day on Friday 19th March

Human Rights Day (March 21st 2010) marked the 50th anniversary of protests against the pass laws, one of which ended in a massacre at Sharpeville.

We commemorated these events and celebrated the achievements of Cowley House and the Trauma Centre in upholding principles of Human Rights for the past 30 years.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Can Trauma Counselling be Harmful?

The earthquake disaster in Haiti, has resulted in a number of articles being published as guides or reminders to relief workers both in the frontlines but also in subsequent stages when emotional support becomes more critical.
Cathy Malchiodi expresses her reservations about debriefing in an article in Psychology Today.
"How the body reacts to remembering a traumatic event is a critical aspect that must be addressed when a narrative emerges or is encouraged at any stage of intervention. Unfortunately, many incident debriefers do not know the simple principles of "putting on the brakes" when it comes to how the body reacts when recalling a distressing event.

Therapist Babette Rothschild coined this phrase to describe the necessity of slowing down the body's reactions. She believes that it is not good practice to proceed with a trauma narrative unless both client and therapist first know how to find and apply these brakes."

The Trauma Centre stopped doing Critical Incidence Stress Debriefing about 6 or 7 years ago. Unfortunately the word 'debriefing' is still used by both consumers and some providers, to describe group sessions in which a recent trauma is addressed.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another "Long Walk" - Ending Xenophobia

In line with the Trauma Centre's strategy of addressing the root causes of violence, we partnered with representatives of other organisations in learning and implementing a process called "Community Conversations" which it was hoped would address xenophobia in South African communities.The initial training was done by the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and 2 members of staff attended. The process was piloted in Khayelitsha. Gugu Shabalala has continued to co-facilitate these conversations. She reports:

A recent Community Conversation took place on 28 January 2010 in Khayelitsha in one of the community halls and was attended by close to 80 community members and organisations who either work in the community or are involved in work with refugees in Cape Town (CTRS, SCALABRINI, ARESTA, Department of Community Safety, AFRISA, Social Justice Coalition, NAFCOC and many other local structures and community members were in attendance; KDF (Khayelitsha Development Forum) was invited but failed to pitch on the last minute when they realised there was no monetary benefit to taking part in the conversation.

This was the last conversation in Khayelitsha (we had 3 conversations in all). We had begun by identifying challenges that the community is faced with (those that perpetuate xenophobia and violence in the community) and exploring the root causes of these problems. We were now in the last phase which involves action - decision making, and planning what steps will be taken to address some of the issues identified.

The conversation went very well but as anticipated, when it came to taking concrete decisions people seemed to hold back and could find many reasons why a coordination team should not be set up on the day to take the tasks forward and get the community involved. Local political leaders were also holding the people hostage and in a way threatening people who wanted to volunteer to take part in the conversation itself (their view was that a coordination team could not be elected on that day since some community structures such as KDF were not involved in the process and these were the structures largely responsible for implementing such initiatives in the community).

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Upcoming International Conference

ISTSS 26th Annual Meeting - Be a Part of the Program
Translation, Collaboration and Mutual Learning
Submit Your Abstract: February 1 - March 16, 2010

Begin preparing your abstract submission for inclusion in the ISTSS (International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies) 26th Annual Meeting. The submission site will be accepting abstracts beginning February 1 - March 16, 2010, 5:00 p.m., CST.

The 2010 meeting in Montréal will be the year's largest gathering of professionals dedicated to trauma treatment, education, research and prevention. More than 100 symposia, workshops, panel discussions, cases and media presentations will be presented on a wide variety of topics related to traumatic stress.

November 4 - 6, 2010
Pre-Meeting Institutes - November 3
Le Centre Sheraton Montréal Hôtel
Montréal, Québec, Canada

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