Tiny Hands & Heavy Burden – CVT Jordan Examines Care for Children Survivors | The Center for Victims of Torture

Tiny Hands & Heavy Burden – CVT Jordan Examines Care for Children Survivors

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Photo: Mousa Naffa, country director, CVT Jordan, is interviewed by Al Arabiya television as they covered the 26 June session on care for child survivors.

How does the humanitarian world provide care to refugee children who have suffered the trauma of war? One way is to share methods and procedures with others and collaborate in partnership for new solutions. CVT Jordan took key steps to share information and practices with leading organizations by organizing a panel event titled “Tiny Hands & Heavy Burden.” To commemorate 26 June, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, CVT assembled a panel of experts from a number of organizations and shared about CVT’s extensive work with refugee children who have survived nearly unthinkable atrocities and loss.

The event was sponsored by the Minister of Social Development in Jordan, Her Excellency Basma Ishaqat, and was opened by Anjana Modi, senior regional refugee coordinator, U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. She commented that 26 June was the appropriate day for this conference, saying that this is “The day to remind the world that torture is a crime and to support all who have survived such heinous acts.”

Additional speakers included Sophie Etzold, protection officer, UNHCR Jordan, who described the agency’s principle to always act in the best interest of the child. She commented, “Every child has the right to ensure services are provided and solutions are found.” In addition, Luana Giardinelli, mental health & psychosocial coordinator, Jordan International Medical Corps, said “I ask myself, what do children actually need?” And one of her answers was love – a basic element necessary for healthy development of a child, especially one who has experienced traumatic events.

Kelly McBride, former CVT trainer and now regional mental health and psychosocial support technical advisor with Save the Children, spoke about rebuilding childhoods after conflict, and how this work must include the family. She said, “You can work directly with the child, but if you’re not supporting the family, your intervention won’t be as impactful.” And Dr. Jala Damrah, rehabilitation and traumatology professor, Hashemite University, said that “Torture survivors are suffering alone. They have invisible wounds.” He noted the progress that has been made since 2008 when resources for torture survivors were lacking, compared to today when we are talking about psychosocial service for children. “This alone is a specialty,” he said.

Mousa Naffa, CVT country director, described CVT’s work with child survivors and commended the guests for participating in this important conversation and collaboration. “No doubt,” he said, “We will build; we will communicate; we will coordinate.”

Reem Abbasi, Ph.D., psychotherapist/trainer with CVT, said that in general over the past ten years, 30 percent of CVT Jordan’s clients are children. Last year however, that number was 44 percent. And Mohammad Abu Yaman, associate physiotherapist/trainer with CVT, spoke about working with children, noting that safety and stability within the therapy session are particularly important to keep from triggering child survivors.

Many CVT Jordan staff were involved in the event, including panel moderator Mohamad Bny Salameh, Ph.D., psychotherapist/trainer, and Bara’a, Bni Omar, psychosocial counselor, who served as master of ceremonies for the discussions.

The event gained excellent media exposure, with the following clips from three media outlets:

This clip, in Arabic, is from Orient News, featuring Mousa Naffa, Bara’a Bni Omar, and Lina Al-Haj Hasan, associate psychotherapist/trainer.

Al-Arabiya News, spoke with several of CVT Jordan colleagues, and invited Moath Asfoor, outreach & partnership manager, to their studio for a live interview. Content Warning: Some of the images are graphic. Part of Moath’s interview can be viewed here.

And this clip from Al-Ghad TV features Mousa Naffa, Hana Mustafa, senior physiotherapist, and Bara’a Bni Omar.


Funding for CVT’s work in Jordan is provided by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.


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