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Better equipped after training

19 August, 2010

Children and War training, April 2010 021A majority of participants reported that they felt better equipped to deal with challenging issues after a training in the Recovery Techniques Manual in Nairobi. They also reported a high exposure of post traumatic symptoms in children.

83 per cent of the participants reported that they felt better equipped to deal with issues they previously found challenging.

The survey results showed the extent of post traumatic symptoms (PTSD) within the population: each participant estimated knowing an average of 105 clients at risk of PTSD. Each social worker has a caseload of over 100 child clients, according to the report.

21 participants from the Counseling and spiritual development department, the Social work department and the Public health department (CHE) including the departmental heads, participated in an eight day training in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, in April.

The training was conducted by Serena Smith-Patten, who attended the November CAW training in Nairobi. She was assisted by by Fred Otieno Juma, head of the CHE department. Fred and Josephine Mwai, head of Social Work department, lead the session on implementation.

The Missions of Hope International (MOHI) centre is an educational organisation that serves approximately 4,000 orphans and vulnerable children in the Mathare slum. The centre runs ten schools including a boarding school where students from difficult home environments and orphans are able to experience a clean environment outside the slum.

Slum resembles war experiences

The traumatic events in Mathare closely resemble the experience of children who have experienced war. “Children of Mathare routinely experience many stressors both vicariously and directly. The urban slum is frequent to abject poverty, crime, violence, substance abuse, accidents, disease and unhealthy living conditions,” the report says.

The children of Mathare have exposure to 9 of 12 areas of exposures defined by Leila Gupta Ph. D. in her Psychosocial assessment of displaced children exposed to war related violence in Sierra Leone, according to Smith-Patten.

Bereavement session important

As traumatic loss and bereavement are prevalent in the lives of these children, the session on bereavement was of particular importance. For example, children had lost parents to AIDS, disappearance in the post-election violence and suicide in the presence of the child.

“Social workers appeared to enjoy this rare opportunity to hear from their colleagues the challenges of telling a child that they have been bereaved and then walking with that child through the grieving process. ”

Survey comments indicate that participants found the training valuable and gained skills to serve both adult and child clients better.

Children and War training, April 2010 011The sessions were held for two hours each afternoon. A pre-training and post-training evaluation were carried out. The Children and War Foundation covered expenses for printing the manual.

Implementation of the manual

Since the training took place, a training team of nine has been established to continue discussions on implementation and contextualising the manual. The training team is reviewing the manual to create a MOHI workbook for future use and training.

In addition, a pilot of 20 children from two classes at the Bondeni centre began 5 June. An August training was proposed to include a pastoral team who missed the first training, as well as others.