Everyone Can Make a Difference, No Matter Where You Work | The Center for Victims of Torture

Everyone Can Make a Difference, No Matter Where You Work

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Girmalew Teklu is finance/HR officer, CVT Ethiopia.

Rehabilitative care for torture survivors is a powerful tool for everyone. I am not a clinician, but because of my work in the refugee camps in northern Ethiopia, I learn a lot about the rehabilitative care we extend to clients at CVT. I have even learned some therapeutic techniques myself, methods I can use myself when I want to.

As a member of CVT’s non-clinical staff, understanding the life of clients and the trauma they have had makes me open to understanding their experience and feeling connected to them.

As part of my role, I explain what CVT is, what our services are, to many people on a regular basis. Before CVT, I was working with the government and other NGOs here in Ethiopia, and I also worked with refugees. I had heard of CVT, though, and I was interested in their work in all the other areas of the world, for instance in Minnesota and Jordan. CVT had a good reputation. I had been told that CVT was exceptional in making clients happy. Today I know how important CVT is to survivors. They have to have hope to live. CVT’s healing of trauma survivors made me interested in the organization, so I took a job here. Now I oversee all financial and HR work, and I represent CVT in meetings with partner organizations.

My academic background is a diploma in Accounting, but I always wanted to work with refugees – being part of an organization that helps the refugee community makes me happy personally. I can see clearly when clients are healing and getting hope. Especially in the cases of minor clients, I see when they heal, when they leave their difficult thoughts behind. It’s important to help refugees. Some of our clients were tortured, some were in prison. They had many difficult experiences in the past. But then when they leave home and become refugees, they face new challenges: they have no home, no place to live, food is scarce, shelter is difficult. They are trauma survivors. It’s very difficult. Then they come to CVT.

I oversee all financial activities, working mostly in Shire or the field camp offices. I handle all HR activities and all procurement. It is very busy. I spend a lot of time on financial work, meetings, procurement and looking over all payments. For HR, I handle the time sheets and staff leaves as well as new hiring interviews and the written exams we require of applicants. We do a lot of hiring: counselors, supervisors, interpreters, drivers.

But the most important thing about my work is being part of an organization that helps people. This is important when I see clients making changes after their traumatic experiences and beginning to live a life of hope. Clients with difficulties, and most especially minors, can have a hard time connecting with people. In recent times, there were problems with minors attempting to commit suicide. We worked to try to find the cause of these suicide attempts. We did many trainings for child protection staff, talking about how to prevent it. The minors are doing better now.

I see how important this work is when I see the improvements in the clients’ activities. We keep our funders updated on our work, so I read the reports and hear in meetings about the results. I have a good understanding of what CVT’s doing in the camps and the ways clients get better after our counseling. This gives me satisfaction. I feel good. And having some knowledge of our clinical techniques is very valuable to me. I work a lot and it gets tiring. Now I know how to calm myself and make many of my problems go away.

CVT provides a service with limited resources and budget. We may be smaller than many organizations, but don’t think that means we don’t make a difference compared to them. CVT may not measure in tangible output in the same way as these larger organizations, but when we see clients on the ground, minors with lower suicide rates, lower secondary trauma, we know our contribution makes a difference.

Previously there wasn’t as much experience with CVT in the refugee community in the camps. We did many meetings with the community and implementing partners to educate about CVT’s rehabilitative care. We changed people’s understanding of CVT. Today, CVT has a good reputation. The refugee community has a good experience with CVT, and the Ethiopian government is asking us to expand our work with our partners.

Everyone can make a difference no matter where you work. Everyone’s role at CVT provides something to the service we give clients. At CVT, you feel you’re part of something great.



CVT’s work with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.



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