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Notes from the Ground

Messages of Hope from CVT Ethiopia-Tigray

Published June 22, 2021
The CVT Shire Internally Displaced Persons Camp

The CVT Shire Internally Displaced Persons Project

After ongoing conflict erupted in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the CVT team working in the area focused its efforts on caring for people who had been displaced from their homes. Many of these people were arriving in Shire, a city in northern Tigray where CVT has an office. The people who were coming to Shire were in need of care. In addition to taking steps to help these displaced persons, the team focused on the self-care needs they each had after the difficult and traumatizing situations they had personally endured.

During these stressful days, one of the activities the team in Tigray finds meaningful is to have a coffee ceremony and take time to share a moment for hope and courage. The team recently reflected on the strength they find in their clients and in each other, and several staff wrote their thoughts about their recent experiences and work with clients.

Elizabeth Mbatha Muli, a CVT expert psychotherapist/trainer with an extensive background in crisis care, went to Shire to spend time with the CVT Tigray team and support their work. She shared these reflections:

“When I came to Tigray region to join the CVT team in its crisis support interventions, I had a mental picture of a chaotic place with tired, overwhelmed people because of the ongoing conflict here.  I had been debriefed for a highly strenuous environment.

“True enough, things in this region were challenging – no electricity, limited supplies, curfew, heavy presence of uniformed and armed personnel. The sound of gunfire was common. It was indeed a highly strenuous environment.

“But I stayed because of the people: CVT staff and our clients. Despite everything going on and their experiences, they go out of their homes every day to work and attend to their duties. They congregate to support one who is mourning, they organize to visit the sick and injured, they sit to enjoy coffee together. They love their land and culture. There is so much hope in their words and action. I quickly learned to draw strength from them, a people I had come to help!

“CVT Tigray team is a strong support system where staff care for each other, and it has been a positive force in grounding us all, knowing that you are not alone. They have infused this energy in their healing activities and given hope to a hurting community through listening, validating and normalizing clients who patronize our healing spaces. The selflessness CVT staff have shown in caring for their own in a crisis that has also touched them personally is remarkable and worth shouting about to the world.”

-Elizabeth Mbatha Muli, CVT expert psychotherapist/trainer

The CVT Tigray team also shared the following messages quotes from our clients and statements from our esteemed CVT Shire team.

Quotes from our Clients

“Thank you CVT. When we express our feelings they become less upsetting, less overwhelming and less scary.’’

“When l came to the psycho education session l was assuming I would just simply attend like the other meeting, but the topics you provide were very important and crucial at this time as Tegaru. l associated with all the distress symptoms you mentioned with myself: l developed hypertension because of being stressed too much. I have learned to focus on the coping strategy everybody mentioned today in this session rather than thinking and worrying too much on the crisis. Today we may feel sad but tomorrow will be bright. Yesterday we were worried and struggled to save our life, but today we see some flash of light for our future. Therefore, starting from today l will be a member of the CVT organization to support and promote service you provide.”

“Thanks CVT. Because of you I changed my attitude and perceptions towards positive thinking. Even though currently l am living an outrageous life, I don’t complain about the crisis and accept the reality of what happened to us. I hope and dream that tomorrow will be a bright day.”

“You helped us in the times of desperation and hopelessness.”

“I would like to say thanks for CVT. I consider CVT as my family even now living in bad condition. Tomorrow will be a better day.”

“During the crisis time I see different organizations, but for me I found that CVT is the best organization, and l love CVT.”

Messages from CVT Counselors

Keep saying to yourself: This difficult time shall pass. You can’t believe that when you’re in the dark place, but it’s always true. Life is so precious. Even if it doesn’t feel precious right now, do whatever works to hold out until the feelings pass.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The perpetrators thought it would kill you but didn’t know who you are. You are survivors of deeds that were supposed to kill you, but they didn’t. You are not ordinary people, you are extraordinary. You are stronger than anyone could ever imagine. Look high and prosper.”

“You can cut a Eucalyptus tree using an axe but as long as you never dig out its roots the Eucalyptus will proliferate many times.”

“These incidents have made us strong, resilient and flexible to look for options and generate new ideas to cope with weakness in the future. After crisis there will be existence, hope and bright life!”

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