CVT Ethiopia Launching New Project in Dabat | The Center for Victims of Torture

CVT Ethiopia Launching New Project in Dabat

Thursday, January 12, 2023

In an exciting development, the CVT Ethiopia team held a special event in December to officially introduce its new center in Dabat, in the Amhara region of Ethiopia. This is a new expansion for CVT Ethiopia, opening its first field office in the region, next to the Sekota and Bahirdar project sites, after a decade of extending rehabilitative care to Eritrean refugees in Tigray, as well as caring for refugees in the Nguenyyiel camp at the CVT Gambella center since 2019.

While work has been underway to set up the Dabat center, the team has begun to spread the word in the refugee community about the kind of rehabilitative care the team will provide, and to bring awareness to the symptoms people experience after surviving torture and traumatic situations. According to Patrick Robbins, CVT program manager, with this outreach well underway, the team expects to begin client intake sessions and then start both intensive physiotherapy and mental health group services in January, 2023.

As part of the launch of the new project, the team hosted a special event, inviting participants and asking representatives from several organizations to speak about the importance of this new center. Representatives attended from Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the North Gonder Administration, and shared their comments at the session held at the Tsehay Zeleke Hotel in Debarq.

The program began with a welcome from Alemu Lemma, zonal manager for CVT Dabat. He invited the speakers to share their thoughts about the new center, where care services will focus on both counseling and physiotherapy. The guest speakers commented on the importance of CVT’s presence to help fill the gaps in the mental health needs of the Eritrean refugees and local communities.

Alemu provided a project overview to the group, sharing details about the project and how the team will get the work started and begin to see clients. He discussed the background behind this expansion into the northwest region, and noted the objectives for working with refugees to provide interventions to improve mental health for as many people as possible.

The team also held a question-and-answer session. Counselors and physiotherapists from the CVT team gave explanations about their work with clients, including information about the group sessions and how clients begin to rebuild their lives after coming to CVT for care. The team noted that CVT’s intervention is unique because it includes specialized trauma-informed counseling and physiotherapy. The team also shared that while the initial activities will mainly focus on helping refugees, there will be a room to support the host community as well, as we grow and expand.

Firew Kefyalew Mekonnen, CVT Ethiopia country director, spoke to close out the event. He stressed the need to work to heal the person’s core, the mind, as early as possible. “Otherwise,” he said, “the trauma will be trans-generational and will continue affecting not only us but also our grandchildren.” This mental health project will benefit not only the refugees but also the nation at large, Firew added. 




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