Triumph Over Trauma in Africa Changing Lives
Updated: May 1
By George Kannington Orocho, Uganda Triumph Over Trauma Initiative
In 2021/2022, Harper Hill Global organized TAMAR (Trauma, Addiction, Mental health, And Recovery) online training for facilitators in Africa. After the training, participants took what they learned to faith-based/grass root communities and other interested groups. The training opened my mind. I understood better the harmful ways people use to deal with trauma and stress. Yet there is little widespread awareness about the effects of trauma on people's behavior. Asking the community, I realized others do not understand how trauma affects people's life choices.
In response to this need, I started sharing my TAMAR training with grassroots communities through the Triumph Over Trauma (TOT) initiative. To help me expand the program's reach, I trained three volunteer facilitators.
As a result, we organized interested persons in groups of 15-20 members for a 6-week period. We used modules prepared by NASMHPD to guide us in delivering the training in small groups.
Between April 2022 to March 2023, we organized, trained, and now supervise 20 groups with 308 members/participants. Out of the 20 groups, 15 are women's groups with 230 members, and 5 are men's groups with 78 members.
Participants told us that TOT groups equipped them with practical and reliable knowledge and skills. The participants said they are applying what they learned to heal themselves from the effects of trauma/stress.
IVAN O. (male participant) said the session on the three primary states of mind/mindfulness has changed the way he perceives stressful situations and the ways he can respond. He reports that before the session on mindfulness, his life was filled with emotions that made situations worse. He realizes responding to stress with a wise mind is safe and helpful. It provides benefits to him and to the people he lives with. In the future, he will control his emotions, applying a wise mind to deal with stress.
RICHARD A. (male participant) revealed that before the TOT group, he used alcohol to heal from the effects of trauma and stress without considering the negative side effects. This training equipped him with constructive options, which are healthy and safe ways of handling trauma and stress. He testified he would never use alcohol again to deal with traumatic/stressful events. Instead, he will apply constructive options such as visual and naming therapies. He will search for an "oasis spot" in his life whenever he encounters a traumatic event/stress.
NICKSON O. (male participant) acknowledged he found the TOT mind-body skills helpful and practices them. For example, whenever he is stressed and tense, he practices abdominal breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. During and after, he usually experienced relief from stress and tension. His body becomes relaxed.
JUSTA A. (female participant) confessed that before the TOT group, she and other participants felt shame, insecurity, and fear during and after a traumatic event. These effects could last for the entire life of the victim. She and other participants would apply the various therapies they had learned, for example - "oasis spots," to heal from and deal with the effects of trauma and stress.
OLIVER P. (female participant) appreciated the session on trauma reminders because the session provided ways to block or handle trauma reminders. Trauma reminders occurred often in her life. She did not know how to cope with them. As a result, whenever a trauma reminder cropped up in her life, she felt bad and stressed. She said that before the training, it was very hard to block such a trigger in her life.
GRACE A. (female participant) revealed before the training that she did not know many self-calming strategies to deal with the effects of trauma/stress in her life. She benefited from the training because it offered many options for self-soothing, such as exercise, reading/visual therapy, artwork, prayer, singing, visiting a pleasant location, or visiting a friend. These methods are relevant and effective. She would practice and share them with her friends.
IRINE A. (female participant) reported her problem is self-criticisms and blame for a wrong or bad thing she'd done in the past. The situation made her feel guilty and stressed. TOT taught her the first thing she must do is forgive herself by letting go of past mistakes or actions. She testified that self-forgiveness works. It relieves a person from stress, shame, and guilt and leads to healing. She would practice self-forgiveness and encourage other participants because it heals.
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