Dealing with the trauma of displacement in The Gambia

When battle broke out in Kaddy’s Senegalese village in early April, she was pressured to depart her belongings behind to avoid wasting her household. “We misplaced every little thing. When we left, we couldn’t take something with us. Our animals, our meals; every little thing was destroyed within the combating.”

Together together with her husband and 7 youngsters, Kaddy fled north to The Gambia, ultimately discovering her option to a small village in Janack district, in an space popularly referred to as ‘Foni’.

Having left with nothing, Kaddy and her household needed to depend on the hospitality of the area people for meals and shelter. “We really feel like a burden to the opposite communities serving to us,” Kaddy laments. “We really feel ashamed to be ‘taken care of’, however we’ve no alternative.”

Kaddy is amongst hundreds of Senegalese pressured to flee to The Gambia, in keeping with the nation’s National Disaster Management Agency, after combating broke out alongside the Gambian-Senegalese border, in territory occupied by the separatist Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC).

An further 6,200 Gambians have been internally displaced, with one other 8,500 affected in host communities – in keeping with The Gambia’s National Disaster Management Agency – by the battle, which dates again 4 a long time.

IOM/Robert Kovacs

Many Gambians dwelling in Senegal have additionally been affected. Fatou left her house behind with nothing however her household and the garments on her again.

Raising consciousness of post-traumatic stress

Recognizing the numerous influence of the battle on the well-being of displaced individuals, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) mobilized its experience in offering psychological well being and psychosocial help. In collaboration with the Supportive Activists Foundation, IOM deployed a cell psychosocial group – consisting of a psychologist, two social staff, an educator, and a neighborhood mobilizer – to supply direct providers to the affected populations.

One key strategy being employed by the cell group is psychoeducation, the place volunteers meet with and have interaction communities to debate psychological well being points and attainable indicators and signs of stress. “The goal is to boost consciousness in regards to the experiences of people who’ve gone by means of post-traumatic stress or have been negatively affected because of the change of setting introduced by the disaster,” stated Solomon Correa, Supportive Activists Foundation Managing Director.

These classes, carried out in teams, leverage conventional sociocultural actions, equivalent to common attaya (tea) classes, to facilitate discussions.

“We are in a position to train them coping mechanisms throughout the discussions,” says Amie, a volunteer psychologist. “After we orient them on the attainable indicators and signs of psychological well being issues, they’re usually very to speak with us in personal.”

Through the psychoeducation classes, the cell group is ready to establish individuals with particular psychological well being wants that require additional consideration and conduct follow-up visits or referrals, as wanted.

An IOM officer listens to the concerns of a community leader in a Gambian village.

IOM/Robert Kovacs

An IOM officer listens to the considerations of a neighborhood chief in a Gambian village.

‘This is without doubt one of the issues serving to me probably the most in my day by day life’

Fatou is certainly one of many who’ve benefited from devoted, one-on-one counselling classes.

A Gambian beforehand dwelling in Casamance together with her Senegalese husband, her complete household fled when the battle broke out. Fatou left her house abruptly and had no time to collect any belongings, as she was preoccupied with safely evacuating her 10 youngsters, certainly one of whom is bodily disabled. For over two months, she has been dwelling in her uncle’s compound in Janack.

Fatou has resorted to small, day-to-day jobs, together with providing labour on farms throughout harvesting to promote the produce on behalf of the farmers to make ends meet. However, the stress of offering for her household in a brand new setting, together with painful recollections resurfaced from the shootings she witnessed, has had a detrimental influence on her psychological well-being.

“To date, this is without doubt one of the issues serving to me probably the most in my day by day life,” Fatou says of the psychosocial help she has obtained. “I’m actually comfortable to speak to them [the mobile team] and share my emotions and issues with out hesitation.” Fatou’s classes with the cell group have helped give her a way of mutual solidarity with others who’ve been displaced: “It helps me to know we aren’t alone on this.”

No finish in sight

Months after the outbreak of battle, there appears to be no finish in sight. “We will not be positive whether or not it’s okay for us to return or not. Right now, we’ve no clue,” Fatou remarks.

The psychosocial help helps probably the most affected address the drastic adjustments of their lives and decide up the items left behind. As Kaddy shares, “Just having the ability to discuss to somebody alone about our issues on this disaster actually encourages us. It helps us to really feel a bit extra comfy though there isn’t any certainty in regards to the future.”

“Since taking part in these classes, I’ve been much less fearful,” agrees Fatou.

In a world the place psychological well being is commonly put within the again seat, the work of the six-person cell psychosocial group demonstrates the advantages of prioritizing psychological well being wants.



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