Logo for the Center for Victims of Torture
Staff Insights

CVT Jordan: Important Work for Our Country

Published July 15, 2019

Moath Asfoor is outreach and partnership manager, CVT Jordan.

In 2008, when I went to interview for a job at CVT Jordan, all they had was one person in a small office and a couple plastic chairs. There was nothing else. Also, I noticed that they scheduled my interview on a Friday, which is the weekend in the Middle East; businesses are closed. I said to myself, Who are these people? Is this organization even real?

More than ten years later, I’m proud of how we have helped so many torture survivors and all we’ve built at CVT Jordan. I feel lucky I stayed in CVT – I witnessed that CVT invested in staff and in growth for the national team.

At CVT Jordan, because we work with survivors of torture, we work with very complicated cases with high needs. At the same time, the nature of the work with refugees who have escaped war means we are working in an unstable environment with a lack of resources. We are responding to the aftermath of violent conflict; we are working in crisis mode.

All these factors make it critically important that CVT understands our clients’ context and community so we can extend rehabilitative care to survivors effectively. To do this, we also must ensure that our partners in the region, which are the majority of providers of refugee services, are well informed about our services so we can respond together with appropriate resources. In my role as outreach and partnership manager, I clear the pathways so our partners understand CVT’s services and can properly identify cases for us, whether those cases are related to mental health and psychosocial services or protections.

Today, we extend care to survivors from 12 countries, including many from Sudan and South Sudan. We use several methods to do outreach within refugee communities. Volunteers, often previous clients or community leaders, do home visits where they talk about CVT services and answer questions. We also do sensitization events where staff hold meetings with the community to share information with the support of the clinical team. We also work to confront stigma and normalize symptoms through psychoeducation sessions. We talk about torture, and let people know they can talk about it – we show them it’s okay, and we show them how we can support them.

When I started at CVT, I worked as a counselor. I have a Master’s degree in sociology and a background in counseling. I came from a social services background; I could see that clients needed more money, food, shelter. However, CVT was the first of its kind doing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS), and after six months, I saw how much people’s lives had been changed when they were open and shared. I saw it happen. Clients said “I could not see the trauma, I didn’t know how it affected me, I was acting in ways I didn’t understand – I was hurting my child.” They spoke about the change, and I saw it in their faces – when they arrived, their facial expressions were anxious, very tired. They didn’t have hope. But after three months of care, they were opening up. Having hope. This really helped me believe in the work.

Because we are human beings, we need good mental health, not just food, shelter, clothing. I understood these things too because of my personal background. I’m Palestinian. I grew up on the West Bank, in a war zone. Growing up in war, my relatives were imprisoned and tortured. They shared their stories with us, so I understood about trauma.

So my personal background, combined with working with refugees and torture survivors in the mental health program and development of CVT, have inspired me in this work. After I was in the counseling role for those years, I felt there was something else we need to do here – I could see the need to help more people understand the kind of help that was required. That was when I moved to an outreach role.

Alongside my outreach role, one initiative that has been critical to CVT Jordan is the development of a sustainability plan. I led the in-country planning effort, and today we maintain a five-year roadmap for national ownership/local leadership. Our sustainability is linked to the setting, with CVT Jordan functioning as a hub for the region. This allows us to share our experience with other countries and partners in the area. I am always looking for ways that CVT can support torture survivors, and these are places with huge needs.

Today, we are launching regional work, and I feel good that I was part of this growth. I have always had the feeling that CVT is something for us. The relationship is not just that of an employer and worker; I have a feeling of ownership. This work is important for our country, important for our people. We help individuals, families and the future generations. Mental health is linked to many things – it helps people become ready for work, engage in their community, work against violence, improve relationships with their families. It’s a link with peace building, a link to transitional justice.

We will continue to build the capacity of people working with refugees and the capacity of all of us at CVT Jordan. Today, all but two team members are Jordanian. In these years, we’ve had the opportunity to interact with colleagues from different parts of the world, with experience in very different crises. We share knowledge and experience from all over the world. This has been a very rich environment, giving me exposure to new experiences and activities. I am always learning, which has helped me grow and the organization to grow.

Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is provided by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

Share this Article

Related Articles