Ruvina Jeremano is a psychosocial counselor at CVT in Kalobeyei.
Many clients are very memorable to me in my work here in the Kalobeyei refugee settlement. I remember a woman who came to us and told me her story of being traumatized. She said she did not have good relationships with men, and she was taking alcohol and getting into quarrels and fights. She said, “I am not ready to forgive.”
But she came to CVT for counseling. She attended all our 10-week cycle of sessions. Afterward she said, “I found feelings are part of life. I find I’m a very strong person. When I got to the last CVT session, I saw that I’ve transformed my life. I’m a good woman.” Now she is feeling great, she feels wonderful.
Clients tell me they appreciate my work. Some won’t forget me – they greet me when I see them. They promise me they’ll do things to help others, and they connect with their communities to spread the word about the care at CVT. I can see that part of my work is therapeutic – it gives me happiness.
Now in the midst of the COVID pandemic, we have had to change our practices, and I don’t see clients in the center in person. Now I am communicating with clients through their cell phones to do assessments of new clients and follow-up after they have completed the sessions. There are issues with this as sometimes I do not get the clients immediately on the phone and there are challenges with network. Sometimes phones are off. However, I do not give up. I keep trying until I get the person I am looking for and I have the conversation needed. The only time it is not possible is when the person does not have a phone, which is very common with people in my community. I look forward to when we can all resume in-person contact so that the work continues as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before I began working for CVT, I was in nearby Kakuma, living as a refugee. I grew up in Kakuma and went through my schooling there. I was not able to complete my education, however, and I had a baby when I was 20 years old. I had to get by with little support. In Kakuma, there were no jobs, so I had to take care of us within the community.
Then I had the chance to work at the Kenya Red Cross as a TB and HIV counselor for a year and a half. I enjoyed the work and I was good at it. Life was going well. And then that contract ended, so I looked for another job and applied at CVT. Even though there is a distance from Kakuma where I live and the center in Kalobeyei, I tried. CVT called me for an interview, and I passed.
I had not seen anything like the care we provide at CVT – we are doing services in a good way and clients gain a lot. They make many changes when they come for our 10-week cycle of counseling and physiotherapy. And when coming here I gained a lot, too. I didn’t have a lot of skills at first. But I have gained many and now I call myself a future counselor. As I continue working, I hope to be better. I appreciate the CVT counselors, supervisors and trainers, and I hope to be as good a counselor as them in the future. They went through counseling studies and have degrees in psychology.
One of the main things I do as a psychosocial counselor is help clients build their coping skills. We do this in the group sessions, which I help facilitate. I also do sensitizations, which is when we educate the community about mental health care and tell them about how CVT can help if they have problems from their past traumatic experiences. I enjoy doing this, and I don’t just wait to hear from my supervisor to tell me to begin sensitization. Any time I’m in the community or with friends, I talk about CVT. I tell people that if it’s possible, they should come. My friends who come to CVT know they can ask me questions or I can show them around. In turn, I ask them to share with me who else is suffering. My friends and the community are familiar to me, so they will share with me. I appreciate that they’re comfortable with me.
When I talk to people about CVT ‘s work with trauma, I also discuss our physiotherapy support. Many people have good results from the combination of physiotherapy and counseling. I coordinate the follow-up sessions we do after people have completed our sessions, so I see the results. Three months, six months later, people are doing well.
Across all this time with clients, I get to see CVT’s unique work. I see who CVT really is. Many in the refugee community are given support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but then the organizations are gone. CVT works with the hidden needs of people. We know that clients’ minds are not at peace because we realize they have been through trauma. So we are ready to help with people’s problems. And clients appreciate it a lot – I feel very happy when they see the importance of our work. It’s inspiring.
I appreciate working at CVT because here something I’ve seen is different. My colleagues check in with me, with my family. They ask me how I’m feeling. CVT supports me, and that gives me hope. I hope one day I’ll transform my life. I see a future for myself, moving away from here.
And I hope that CVT can expand. Particularly, I wish CVT could have a center in Kakuma where I live. This would make me very happy because so many people with trauma are there and they need help.
I look for possibilities and hope one day CVT will be coming. There are so many people from South Sudan who have a need for psychotherapy. One day, I hope CVT can move to South Sudan, where many people are not aware of the need for mental health care. They don’t know where to go for help. If CVT could extend services one day to South Sudan, I know it will work there. If God makes it possible, it will work.