A World of Healing – the PATH Workshop | The Center for Victims of Torture

A World of Healing – the PATH Workshop

Monday, January 28, 2019

Photo: Workshop participants, from left to right: Nesrin Elmusa and Rania Said Youssef, both with Hope Revival Organization, and Chariya Om from TPO Cambodia.

Organizations that care for survivors of torture are in place around the world, in locations where the need is great and where there are mental health professionals who dedicate their lives to caring for survivors. One of CVT’s core international programs is Partners in Trauma Healing (PATH), which collaborates with and trains global torture rehabilitation organizations in order to build capacity via specialized clinical, research and business tools.

In December 2018, the PATH team held a global healing workshop for partners, offering a week full of informational sessions, training, conversation and problem-solving, as well as an opportunity to spend time with other professionals in the field, away from the stress of the clinic and office.

The workshop was held in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a location that offers excellent meeting spaces but also grants visas to people from many different countries, an important factor given the range of countries represented by the partner groups. In 2018, PATH worked with organizations based in Cambodia, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Philippines, South Africa, Turkey and Zimbabwe. All ten partners made the trip, each invited to send their director, an evaluation professional and up to two mental health care professionals.

The workshop was organized into the three primary areas, or domains, that PATH supports, all of which are key to the long-term survival of rehabilitative care programs: organizational development – with a focus on organizational systems and processes; mental health and psychosocial support; and program evaluation – the research domain that measures and tracks effectiveness of care.

Photo: Workshop participants, from left to right: Eugenia Mpande with Tree of Life, Zimbabwe, along with Nancy Jabbour, Carmen Hamady and Marie Line Taleb, all with Restart, Lebanon

But the workshop offered much more. “We want to build communication and understanding among the domains,” said Pam Kriege-Santoso, PATH program manager. “But we also allowed time for internal evaluations, for partners to meet with their clinical advisors, and for partners to have time to meet with each other.”

The partners’ work with survivors is intense, and it is helpful for individuals working in this field to have an opportunity to step away from the work and dedicate time for sharing their experiences. Besides the beneficial problem-solving conversations, Pam noted that partner organizations have many additional things in common, noting “They have funders, resources, supporters and a number of issues in common, for example, new programming, community matters or issues related to topics like transitional justice. This gives them the chance to discuss many aspects of their work.”

Some partners have crossed paths in the past, but in the context of a workshop they find new opportunities. Pam said, “As a result of spending time together, some partners mentioned that they want joint trainings. They get to know each other, feel supported by each other, and see what they can learn from each other, then identify training and learning opportunities which we can incorporate into program planning.”

The PATH program started at CVT in 2010 and has conducted several global workshops in the past. This year, PATH was able to provide Kurdish and Arabic interpreters for sessions, taking steps to find translators who were familiar with these sometimes technical and nuanced topics.

Some partners have been working with CVT for many years, but several are new. Some organizations are located near front lines of conflict, and work in very difficult circumstances. The PATH team noticed that after a bit of time, people were more relaxed. Pam said, “You can see it – those who are working in the most severe places are still very tense when we begin. In the first days they are continually checking phones or stepping out to take care of urgent matters. But after time, they relax and dive in to the midst of the work with all of us.”

All the organizations are facing a great deal of change, so the workshop theme Staying True to Our Values in Times of Change meant a lot to partners.Changes are coming so fast for all of them,” said Emily Beltmann-Swenson, CVT international services program coordinator. “Everyone had something to bring to that theme: how they’re changing for the better, how they’re changing because of the refugee crisis, how things are changing within their country.” Groups had the opportunity to learn more about how to adapt to change, such as incorporating elements that are now of greater importance to funders. Emily noted the importance of information sharing, as all the organizations grapple with caring for more refugees and, in some cases, internally displaced persons, than ever before.

Working with the PATH project allows rehabilitation professionals to create and strengthen their networks. “PATH is a shoulder for them to lean on,” Pam said. “The workshop does a lot of connecting and problem solving – some things are small, they’re easy. But some problems they discuss are very significant.” As an example, several partners are beginning to work with children. Sharing information about what they’re seeing and structures they’re implementing to support the programming helps ensure that this work will be carefully and thoughtfully continued.

“We are committed to strengthening these organizations so that their voices are heard in their country,” said Pam. “It’s important that we have a strong program that shows good impacts and better service to clients, but we also work to make the organizations healthier so they can continue to be that voice and keep the civil society component alive.”


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



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