Dawit Weldab is a psychosocial counselor at CVT Ethiopia.
“We are thankful. We are here now because of you.” A client said this to me after he went through CVT’s group counseling cycle in the Adi Harush refugee camp, and he had taken steps to bring his life back to normal. This man had survived traumatic experiences in Eritrea before he came to the camp, and I knew his story. I knew that these were very meaningful words coming from him. At CVT, we are helping people change their lives.
In my home country of Eritrea, I studied agriculture in college and worked in banking. I came to the refugee camp in Ethiopia and it wasn’t long before I learned of CVT. I was highly interested in helping people, so when I saw a CVT position vacancy posted, I checked the qualifications for the job and applied for it. I was very motivated to pursue the position because it was clear that the work would help those who have survived traumatic experiences in their past. I passed the exams and completed the interviews, and I was given the job.
I was interested in working for CVT because helping people is always a good thing, helping others, any human being, just like you. This work allows me to help others directly, and this gives me satisfaction.
In my role as a psychosocial counselor, I first identify clients from among the refugee population here in the camps. After they are identified, I complete a pre-screening and see if they meet the criteria for our group counseling sessions. If they do, I assign them into a group. After each 10-week group counseling cycle completes, we also do follow-up check-ins to see how clients are doing. This helps us understand the effectiveness of our techniques and allows us to continue offering help to those who need it.
To identify clients from among the community, we conduct sensitization events in the camp. At these events, we tell the community about CVT’s work and why we do what we do. Many of these people have been through difficult periods in their lives. I watch for symptoms that we know of, things like depression, anxiety, isolation. Through these sensitizations, we identify people who will benefit from our services, but there are also individuals and organizations that refer people to the CVT healing center when they believe the individual may need our specialized care.
The thing that is most important in my work is helping people who have been through difficult experiences in their lives. It is a very good feeling to see these people make improvements in their lives and in the way they feel.
It’s interesting to me to see examples of the impact of CVT’s care when clients move on from the camp and resettle in other countries in the world. In some cases, they call us from their new country and tell us how much they appreciate what we did for them.
They also sometimes call to ask for reminders of some of the exercises we taught them in the sessions. They need reminders of that work. This is a positive indicator of their continued healing because they want to practice and keep up their healing. When we give them homework and activities to do in the camp environment, the client may not be comfortable to do these exercises at home, where they often have no space or privacy. However, now that they are living in a different situation overseas, it is often more comfortable for them. Now they want reminders of the exercises so they can continue their healing work in their new home.
There are many occasions when clients tell us “We are very thankful.” Hearing these words is a very meaningful part of my job. I also appreciate this work because I am always gaining knowledge. I am always preparing to learn more and working to find new ways to help clients. Seeing clients become eager to change their lives – this is something that shows me great hope.
CVT’s work with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.