Striving for a Healed and Empowered Society in Zimbabwe | The Center for Victims of Torture

Striving for a Healed and Empowered Society in Zimbabwe

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Laurel Lunn, Ph.D., is a CVT research associate.

The Center for Victims of Torture works with partners in every region of the world. Our staff understand that providing healing care to survivors of unimaginable human cruelty can be extremely challenging. We also know that international aid work, particularly funding, isn’t always stable.

Generous support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) encourages and reinforces organizations that are dedicated to healing initiatives in order to enhance effectiveness and sustainability. USAID’s support, through the Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) project, has provided CVT with targeted resources to develop partnerships and exchange valuable experience with many of these organizations.  

PATH represents a capacity building partnership between CVT and ten independent torture rehabilitation centers around the globe. One of PATH’s current partners is Tree of Life Trust Zimbabwe (TOL), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that helps people living with trauma reconnect with nature, family, community and themselves. TOL’s mission is to create a healed and empowered society that puts its energy into processes of peace, recovery and reconciliation.

Two years ago, CVT advisors participated in a series of on-site meetings with Tree of Life as a foundation to the partnership. It was energizing to hear from so many staff members, discuss their perspectives and priorities, and generate a plan for our partnership—but that was just the beginning. The project has involved a psychotherapist/trainer placed full-time with TOL, international workshops and an online e-Learning portal. In addition, CVT advisors representing three areas - mental health treatment and healing, program evaluation and organizational development - have conducted annual visits to TOL.

Our final visit took place this July. One segment of this visit involved joint planning and discussion sessions between the staff who provide TOL's services and the staff who evaluate those services. Although representatives from each domain are in frequent communication with each other, it can be beneficial to have trusted external partners - in this case, CVT advisors - participate in these discussions to ask questions, clarify issues and direct the communication toward topics that are not normally addressed in day-to-day work.

Liyam Eloul (CVT clinical advisor for mental health) and I facilitated the sessions with a group of TOL staff, learning from TOL as they shared their own feedback and points of view. This work yielded clear materials to define the flow of documentation for TOL’s Healing Workshops between the various departments and community-based organization partners, and to determine timelines for each step of the process. By holding these conversations together, TOL's staff gained stronger understandings of each other’s work, reinforcing the importance of cross-domain collaboration.

It has been enriching to work together to face challenges, celebrate accomplishments and see the plans we made at that first meeting come to fruition! TOL’s experience, insights and commitment to survivors have enriched the PATH project and other organizational partners. We hope to continue this collaboration in the future!

Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH) is made possible through the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development and the American peoples’ support.


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