15 March, 2016
From the 26th to the 29th February 2016 there was a training workshop on the Teaching Recovery Techniques manual, which was developed by the Children and War Foundation. Together with the Foundation, the workshop was organised by the Syrian Association for Mental Health (SAMH), a Syrian organisation that promotes psychological health and wellbeing. The training was delivered by Dr. Masa Al-kurdi, a trainer from the Foundation, and her co-trainer Ms. Lamia Al Gorra. The training was held in Gaziantep, Turkey where later implementations of the program would take place in local Syrian orphanages.
A total of 23 female trainees were trained on the TRT manual. Thirteen of the trainees are Syrian students studying social studies at the Al Zahra University in Gaziantep. The remainder ten trainees were Syrians working in the field of Syrian mental health. The first three days of the training were spent on the TRT manual. The variation in knowledge and experience in the field of mental health proved a challenge at the beginning of the training. But by the end of the training the majority of the trainees grasped the TRT material extremely well and demonstrated their ability to implement the program with children.
Practical exercises enabled the practise of the techniques on one another and a demonstration of skills in front of the trainers. The fear barrier was broken by many as they got the chance to practice children sessions during the training session. The final training day was spent on training the team on the pre and post survey assessment tools and data analyses. The final day also allowed the trainers to hold a discussion with the trainees and determine who is in need of an additional training day before implementation of the TRT program commences.
An additional training day will be held on the 15th March 2016 for selected trainees who the trainers felt are need of further assistance, and for those who missed some hours of the training due to work and family commitments. The additional training day will be held by Ms. Lamia and follow-up of the outcome of the training day will be with Dr. Masa. A total of 7 trainees demonstrated excellent performance in the TRT program and these were nominated to become potential trainers in the future for the TRT program, only after they gain good experience in the program with the children.
The SAMH in partnership with Balsam, a Syrian mental health organisation registered in Turkey (HQ in Gaziantep) appointed two project managers to oversee the implementation of the TRT program for the Gaziantep team. Ms. Ayat and Ms. Forat are appointed the management of the program and together with Dr. Masa, they put in place the implementation plan. The project managers are tasked to follow-up with the team in the first cycle of the implementation on a weekly basis. They are also tasked to report back to Dr. Masa the project progress, feedback and queries. There is a planned delivery of a report at the end of the first-cycle period. This will include feedback on the program implementation, pre-post data analyses and success stories. The trainees will be trained and instructed on the implementation plan a week ahead of planned implementation. Children requiring further specialist mental health treatment after the first-cycle implementation will be referred to mental health specialists available in the Balsam centre, where mental health treatment will be provided pro bono to children in need of specialist care.
Implementation of the TRT program commences in the third of week of March 2016, and the first cycle is estimated to take 8-weeks. During this time 220 Syrian orphans and their mothers / guardians will be enrolled in the TRT program. Trainees will work in teams of two to deliver the TRT, and pre and post surveys will be assessed by the project managers. The first cycle of the program will run in Syrian orphanages in the Gaziantep area, and thereafter children will recruited through home visits and Balsam centre will make the necessary arrangements to conduct the TRT program in their centres across Turkey.
A special thanks to:
- Psychologist Sivert Straume at Bypsykologene who initiated a Facebook fundraising to sponsor parts of the costs and who also made a personal donation from his company that helped pay for the training.
- Dr Aula Abbara for initiating a Justgiving fundraising page to help the Foundation raise private donations to cover some of the costs to run the training.
- Abdelhadi Wafiq Kharous and Ahmad Anas Shamia for providing logistical assistance throughout the training days, and documenting the training with their photography (see pictures above).
By: Dr. Masa Al-kurdi