Dignity in Mental Health -- Marking World Mental Health Day in Ethiopia | The Center for Victims of Torture

Dignity in Mental Health -- Marking World Mental Health Day in Ethiopia

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ethiopia bike fans World Mental Health Day Oct2015A large crowd gathered on the main highway between Shire and Mai Tsebri in Ethiopia on October 8. More than 600 spectators had come out to watch a cycling competition to raise awareness of the importance of mental health. Five female and ten male elite cyclists from the refugee community raced on a two-kilometer circuit – the women cycling 10 laps and the men racing 25 laps – while the crowds cheered.

In all our international projects, we regularly lead sensitization and outreach events for refugees and community members. Some of the events are small meetings and some – like this one – are large events organized in collaboration with other NGOs. These events help people understand the effects of torture, promote our work and reduce the stigma of mental health challenges.Ethiopia_bicyclists_prepare_for_race_Oct2015

For World Mental Health Day, the CVT- Ethiopia staff and partner organizations hosted events at the Adi Harush and Mai Aini camps, beginning with the bike race.

Emcee_bike race_Ethiopia_MentalHealthDay_Oct2015During the race, a band entertained the crowd and an emcee spoke about CVT’s activities and the main mental health day commemorations the next day.

On October 9, about 250 people attended events in the Adi Harush camp while another 700 people attended commemorations at the Mai Aini camp.

As part of the events, a theater group performed a short production on hope and resilience among the refugees. After the drama, several people volunteered to put green paint on their hands and to decorate a tree that had lost its leaves and several branches with their handprints. Though the tree no longer flourished, it still had strong roots that would enable it to rejuvenate. The green handprints signified hope and resilience just like the drama they had seen.WorldMentalHealthDayActivities_Ethiopia_Oct2015

Other events included speeches by NGO officials, a poetry reading, team activities, a banana-eating competition and a traditional coffee ceremony. The commemorations were a success in both the camps thanks to the hard work by the dedicated and committed CVT staff.

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