Logo for the Center for Victims of Torture
Notes from the Ground

CVT World

Published November 16, 2023

Welcome to CVT World, CVT’s periodic compilation of the latest news, stories and public activities from our team.

A Powerful Speech and a Successful Restoring Hope Breakfast

Medhanye Alem, psychotherapist/trainer at CVT Ethiopia, spoke at CVT’s Restoring Hope Breakfast in Minneapolis on Oct. 26. He gave this speech and also spoke in this video about extending care to refugees and displaced people during conflict. He writes, “The work my team and I do is extremely important. Our work helps give a suicidal client a second chance at life, helping a mother form an emotional bond with her child born out of sexual assault, or empowering a severely tortured man to overcome his shame. These individuals may lack enough to eat or a safe place to shelter, but they consistently tell us that what CVT provides is irreplaceable to them.”

The CVT Development team worked tirelessly to present a powerful program on Oct. 26 in Minneapolis, featuring Medhanye along with a message from a client and from Dr. Simon Adams, president and CEO. The Restoring Hope Breakfast is a fundraising event, and the team was thrilled that attendees were so generous that the fundraising goal was surpassed! See photos from the event here and here, and a photo of members of the CVT Ethiopia and Jordan teams here.

Decolonizing Mental Health & Moving Towards Harmony & Balance: An Indigenous Perspective on Wellness

“Though Western medicine has typically minimized the importance of the spiritual realm and its influence on human behavior, Native communities have always embraced ritual, ceremony and spiritual interventions as valid mental health approaches,” writes Jesse Valentin, MSW, LICSW, in this article written in honor of Native American Heritage Month. Jesse, former CVT social worker and a Diné two-spirit enrolled member of Navajo Nation, is a therapist at Gather Behavioral Health. Jesse writes, “Cultural and spiritual teachings provide people with a sense of purpose, sense of future, connection to their ancestors, to the Creator and spiritual helpers that guide and shape our human existence.”

CVT Condemns Expulsions of Afghan Refugees out of Pakistan

“Afghani refugees have the right to seek asylum; Pakistan has the responsibility to provide a refuge,” writes Yumna Rizvi, CVT senior policy analyst, in this statement condemning the expulsion of Afghan refugees by the Pakistani government. Yumna writes, “Pakistan too, has suffered from decades of war and instability; Pakistanis know well the trauma that results from being violently uprooted from your home.”

A Survivor Shares His Story

“I was a neglected straw in the ocean. But, out of nowhere, a helping hand took me out of the ocean and plucked me out, and this straw became a fruitful tree,” said Khaled, a former client at CVT Jordan. He shared his story of detention and torture, followed by healing care from the team in Amman. Today, he says, “I have a wonderful wife and a livable life.” Read his full story here.

CVT Joins Call for Immediate Ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

CVT joined more than 60 nongovernmental and interfaith organizations in signing this letter to U.S. policymakers calling for an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Gaza. The authors write, “We condemn all violence against civilians by Hamas and the Israeli military. In this critical moment, we believe it is imperative that U.S. policymakers take measures to immediately de-escalate the violence to prevent the further loss of civilian life.” In addition, Dr. Simon Adams spoke to Al Jazeera on two occasions about the need for a ceasefire, actions to end suffering and access to humanitarian aid.

And CVT joined organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals in signing this petition calling for ceasefire in Gaza and Israel. The authors write, “Civilians are not bargaining chips. Families need a chance to bury and mourn their dead. The cycle of violence against innocent civilians needs to stop.”

CVT Georgia Helps County Commissioner Establish Key Support Office for Refugees

A new office dedicated to supporting refugees, called the Welcoming Dekalb Office, will open soon in Georgia. Dekalb County is home to Clarkston, known as the “Ellis Island of the South,” and where CVT has a center. CVT Georgia was commended for all their work to help make this happen, with special notice from Ted Terry, commissioner for the county. Because so many refugees arrive in the area, an office that provides support will ease the transition for many.

CVT Attends UN Human Rights Committee Meetings

Scott Roehm, CVT director of global policy and advocacy, attended the UN Human Rights Committee meetings on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Geneva, where organizations and U.S. states spoke on issues related to civil rights. In September, CVT submitted this report to the Committee, identifying problems with excessive use of force by law enforcement, racial discrimination in the U.S. criminal justice system, infringement on protestors’ rights, and problems with Guantánamo detention facility and immigration detention. Scott is shown here speaking about issues raised in CVT’s report and our coalition report at the ICCPR Civil Society Consultation, with Alka Pradhan, int’l human rights lawyer.

Scott is also shown here with Alka Pradhan at the Committee meeting. Click here to access video of the meetings. In addition, Scott wrote this article with Alka Pradhan for Just Security about regression by the U.S. regarding torture and Guantánamo detention facility.

Connection and Self-Care for Clients and Staff at CVT’s Proyecto Mariposa

“People are all immigrating to the U.S. for different reasons, but to see the threads of commonality is such a powerful experience. To be able to help people understand that what they’re feeling is not unique to them, they’re not losing their mind, they’re not going crazy,” said Juli Smith Clark, CVT clinical supervisor for Proyecto Mariposa, to Dana Mach, strategic partnerships officer, in this article. Dana asked Juli about her experience at the U.S. Southern border, working with clients and our partner Casa Alitas in Tucson.

People are all immigrating to the U.S. for different reasons, but to see the threads of commonality is such a powerful experience.”

Juli Smith Clark, CVT clinical supervisor for Proyecto Mariposa
Share this Article

Related Articles