June 26 | Center for Victims of Torture

June 26

June 26 is recognized internationally as United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day in 1987, the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect.  Every year, CVT commemorates the day with special events to recommit ourselves to heal survivors and end torture.

26 June 2019

Ethiopia

CVT Ethiopia commemorated the day with several activities in the two refugee camps where we have healing centers. In Adi Harush, the main activities included coffee discussions, marches, a candlelight vigil, a poem competition, music, drama skits about torture, a special speaker, a miming competition and a giveaway. At the May Ayni refugee camp, CVT hosted an art exhibition and trivia competition, which aimed to raise awareness about the impact of trauma and torture on mental health and to lower stigma. Local bands played and drama groups performed.

Jordan

Over 100 stakeholders attended CVT Jordan’s commemoration of 26 June. Staff and special guests spent the day discussing trauma rehabilitation for survivors with a special focus on children. Activities included keynote presentations from select partners, including UNHCR, IMC, Save the Children and Hashemite University; group discussions; and a short CVT-produced movie detailing the experience of a child survivor at CVT Jordan from the perspective of a parent.

Kenya

Dadaab 

CVT hosted a colorful event in Dagahaley Refugee Camp attended by over 1,200 people. In addition to CVT staff, attendees included members of the local refugee community, local refugee leadership block leaders, and the Dagahaley chairman and chairlady. The guest of honor was a representative from UNHCR. Entertainment included poems; dances by members from South Sudanese (Nuer), Somali and Oromo communities; and performances by PET (Participating Education group Theatre). A message from Curt Goering, CVT executive director, was read aloud. Staff exhibited remarkable team work; some were ushers, some distributed visibility materials and others served refreshments.

Kakuma

Turnout exceeded CVT Kakuma’s projected number for the June 26 commemoration; there were approximately 844 participants from the community and agencies including UNHCR, Kenya Red Cross, Film Aid, Humanity and Inclusion and JRS. Prayers for both Christian and Muslim believers preceded the event. Scouts from the nearby primary school sang the national anthem and raised the Kenya flag to kick off the ceremony. The following groups performed: Akaranga Burundian Drummers; Anyuak dance troupe; a solo artist from the DRC; a South Sudanese drama group; and dance performances from the host community and Somali community. Speeches were heard from the JRS area manager, a ward administrator, an RAS representative, a UNHCR representative and CAG members. A letter from Curt Goering, CVT executive director, was read to the crowd by CVT Field Coordinator Mr. Samuel Orangi. Mr. Joseph Wesonga gave a word of thanks on behalf of CVT. That afternoon, the team was treated to a self-care lunch at the CVT mess hall. Every staff member attended, including incentive staff.

Nairobi

CVT Nairobi commemorated UN Day at the Kayole Social Hall. Staff praised the gathering as a success; attendance hit 174, including refugee communities, refugee leaders, CAG members, and representatives from the country government. The event started at 9:30am with word of prayers from the refugee community and was followed by opening remarks from Joanne Kibet (physiotherapist/trainer). The partners who graced the occasion were HIAS, RCK, Kituo Cha Sheria, NCCK, KITSUNGU, CESSI and RefuSHE. Representatives gave speeches on the services they provide and their locations. The Kayole refugee leader was also present and gave a speech.

The event was very lively, thanks to the various entertainers from Kayole which included Burundian and Ugandan dancers. Two former CVT clients performed songs. RefuSHE models performed a fashion show, songs and dances. A letter from Curt Goering, CVT executive director, was read by Edna Gicovi (psychotherapist/trainer) and was translated in Kiswahili by Arobogust Amoyi (physiotherapist). The UN message was read by Rosina Mruttu (psychotherapist/trainer).

Amrita Chudasama (psychosocial counselor) gave closing remarks; afterward attendees received lunch and refreshments. CVT Nairobi’s staff demonstrated tremendous dedication and commitment this year.

Uganda

This years’ commemoration was the first to be organized by CVT in Bidi Bidi’s Yangani Protection Desk, Zone 5, in partnership with TPO and Refugees Law Project (RLP). The commemoration started with a procession from the Yangani Police Post to the ARC Protection Desk. Several partners and local leaders joined the community members in a show of solidarity to survivors of torture and their families, as well as to mobilize community members to come to the event. In total, 10 performing groups graced the events with two traditional dancing groups transported from Zone 3 by the Refugee Law Project (RLP). Different cultural groupings in Zone 5 performed, highlighting the subject of torture. Two youth groups also presented drama skits on torture and how CVT intervened. Each of these messages received a thunderous round of applause from the audience.

Several speekers praised CVT’s choice of location for the event, the first of its kind in Zone 5, and for its intervention in mental health issues. The Village 5 chairperson of community mobilization said the event was the “best ever major calender event to have been conducted in Yangani since the settlement was set up.” This was echoed by the representative of Yangani Women, who commended CVT for offering mental health counseling and mentioned that she is receiving very positive feedback from clients who are currently accessing CVT’s services. She also emphasized the need for expanding CVT’s care. The LCIII chairperson of Odravo sub-county, where Yangan Cluster is located, committed his support to refugees and ensuring they do not face further torture while in the settlement.  

In conclusion, the event was a great success and raised CVT’s profile among partners and other stakeholders

United States

Atlanta

Families from the Congolese community attended CVT Atlanta's June 26 event, and a Swahili interpreter provided interpretation. Parents and children gathered inside in front of the fireplace. Adaobi Iheduru, Psy.D., LP, psychotherapist & team lead, provided a short welcome statement emphasizing the importance of recognizing June 26, and thanked clients for trusting CVT with their stories and taking time to attend the event. Then CVT Atlanta staff and volunteers served food and drinks to clients. There was a wide selection of food, including sambusa, injera, lentils, rice, and chicken. Clients were served Refuge Coffee and different types of tea. Children were entertained by CVT staff and volunteers by with indoor and outdoor games like Uno, Patty Cake, hula hoops, checkers and cards. Clients expressed that they enjoyed the time

St. Paul

In Minnesota, CVT commemorated the day with a celebration at the St. Paul Healing Center to honor the courage, strength and resilience of the survivors we serve. CVT clients, staff and community friends gathered together to express support, demonstrate our solidarity with all torture survivors around the world and reaffirm our commitment to work for the end of torture worldwide. Guests enjoyed food from many of the countries our clients call home, and a short program with remarks from a former client and a CVT clinician. Valued community partner, A Backyard Farm, received the Healing Connections Award for his 25 years of service to CVT clients. Staff invited attendees to place a rock in one of the potted trees decorating the house (pictured), in order to honor someone they'd lost. The trees will be planted along with the rocks at each of CVT's Minnesota locations. Participants also received handwoven bracelets in the CVT colors.

Washington, D.C. 

At a June 26 reception held in Washington, D.C., CVT presented its annual Eclipse Award to Annunciation House, an organization founded to serve refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants at the U.S. southern border, and to Ruben Garcia, its executive director. 

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