Watch interviews with participants by faculty member Robert Brooks, on-site in Porano, Italy, November 2012:
Ben Porter, Uganda – Year 1
Founder / CEO The Recreation Project
The Global Mental Health program of the Harvard Program for Refugee Trauma was instrumental in the development of The Recreation Project. We use re—creation because we believe that re-creating ourselves is an important life skill in navigating the murky aftermath of violence and trauma. During my time in Italy I met some of the most creative students and inviting mentors who encouraged me to think about recovery from trauma holistically as I moved from a traditional model of psychotherapy to an experiential and adventure-based model of therapy in post-conflict northern Uganda. One important theme of the program is “Healing Space” and all students are challenged to think about space as a component to recovery. Children who walk into our forest do so with wide eyes and the radical change of scenes prepares them to learn something new about themselves and the people around them.
Participation not only broadened my theoretical knowledge base, but refined my understanding of the factors that contribute towards healing & recovery and how these may be woven into a therapeutic relationship that considers the complex interaction of whole-of-life, culture, trauma and mental health. One of the greatest gifts has been ongoing communication with and support from the faculty, as well as a facilitated introduction to my current supervisor who is internationally respected in this field. I am inspired; doors have opened; totally worth it!
Dear Maria, with deep sense of humility, I join others in thanking you Maria for imparting the skill of video production on most of us. At Orvieto, I initially thought it would be a mission impossible, but gradually before we finally left the training site, I began to conceptualize the workings. Let me congratulate you Maria for producing a Producer and Director in me! After my healing environment video, I have produced and directed a twenty (20) minute video of the activities of my hospital which has won me an award from the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, in April 2012. I am indeed very grateful to you. Taiwo.
I came to the GMH program as a young spiritual care practitioner. Initially, I felt intimidated by my peers’ vast experience and uncertain about my own contribution to healing invisible wounds. HPRT, however, boosted my confidence by situating me within a community of practice where interdisciplinary colleagues from around the world learn together and work together. I remember discussing “empathy” with the eminent psychoanalyst Franco Paparo; and the masterful analyses of case studies by HPRT faculty continue to influence the way I interact with individual clients facing complex situations. Today, I am working in Cambodia, developing an innovative self-reliance program for urban refugees, striving to re-vision the cityscape as a healing environment for displaced peoples.
I, Jeanne Marie, a Rwandese, am working with people affected by Tutsi genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath, have all along got interest in GMH TR program. I owe my appreciation to HPRT who allowed me the opportunity to participate in that program. Personally and professionally, I benefited quite a lot during the whole program from all presenters both in Italy and in our group forum discussion online. Of all the benefits, new frame work of mental health recovery composed by 8 elements improved my trauma and recovery approaches trough implementation. Narrative therapy and standardized curriculum toolkit helped me to work with torture survivors and emphasized that there is no single intervention and from there we have established networking with others in my place of work and neighbors. I have experienced and improved the healing approach through dialogue to attain empathetic listening, considering healing environment and cross cultural curriculum.
The Global Mental Health Trauma and Recovery program has been an important influence in my life since my participation in the fall of 2010 and follow up work that finished May 2011. Meeting, studying with and learning from mental health practitioners, academics, lawyers, researchers and human rights workers from around the world helped expand my personal and professional horizons, and has provided me with tremendously rich journalistic material. I have drawn on specific information I learned during the program and applied what Richard and Jim shared about the program’s growth to my work as president of the Dart Society, an international organization of journalists committed to covering issues of trauma and violence with sensitivity and compassion. Ongoing connections with classmates and instructors have been an additional source of personal pleasure and professional enrichment.
Watch how Year 5 participants spontaneously celebrate on the last day of the on-site part of the course in Italy, November 2010: