29 November 2008

Timor Aid's National Trauma Healing Conference

21/11/2008 Media Release Timor Aid National Trauma Healing Conference in Dare with Capacitar International - This week Timor Aid in partnership with Capacitar International, an organisation specialising in trauma and community healing from California, conducted a national conference on Trauma Healing and transformation in Daree, a peaceful sub village in the hills of Dili. The conference reviewed and developed self healing practices, theories and the understanding of trauma symptoms in order to help people cope with the impacts of trauma and fear in their everyday lives.

The training was hosted by two “Capacitar International” trainers, Joan Condon and Nina Jusef, who come from Canada and Indonesia, in conjunction with Timor Aid Capacitar Trainers. The participants were previously identified as leaders in their communities as part of Timor Aid’s Trauma Healing and Transformation Project and they were brought together from every district in Timor Leste to meet in Daree for the week.

During the week of the conference participants built on their training and learned more theory about the body and brain and the negative impacts caused by trauma, especially living in a society where there are multi layers of trauma from war, occupation, domestic abuse and civil unrest. They also practiced many different healing exercises and techniques such as tai chi, massage, acupressure, visualisation, active listening and identified further their own experiences and that of their community in discussion with each other.

One participant Veronika Luruk Muki described her first experience with the meditation techniques and Capacitar training, “For me this was a new experience, before I don’t feel I have the opportunity for this kind of training, this help, during the meditation practice, I felt something different inside, I never felt like that before and felt like I wanted to fly. This knowledge for how to make myself calm and for healing is good. I think that trauma healing is a priority in this country because it will reduce violence and make people aware of who they are and they will be calm, and feel more peace and love for eachother and realize their positive abilities.”

Groups were asked to discuss what other factors have made the country and people traumatised, they singled out the biggest impacts currently came from domestic abuse and violence, the lack of justice in Timor Leste, that there was always some conflict and no rest, the political leaders were not united, the influence of many negative rumours and gossip, and also that people have not had enough education and knowledge. They also mentioned the trauma still existing from the harmful attitudes of the Portuguese during the period of colonization, being occupied by the Japanese and Indonesians and the 2006 crisis.

At a recent Trauma Healing and Transformation Project training in Ermera on 6th November, Madelina Fernandez, a police investigator from Ermera when asked why did she attend Timor Aid’sTtrauma Healing and transformation training she said that because of her role in the community, “I often have to face people and victims, even if I cannot cure them we are the ones that can help them reduce their trauma, we can apply what we have learnt and help them.. before we would have to refer everyone to Pradet but now we have increased potential to soothe and to help.”

Timor Aid’s Trauma healing and Transformation Project has been implemented in all 13 districts since 2003 as part of their Integrated Poverty Alleviation Project East Timor funded by the European Commission. The project gives training to enable people to better understand their trauma and ways to heal themselves, and then help others in their communities using the principles of Capacitar. The basis of Capacitar is healing oneself through mind, body, spiritual and social awareness using simple techniques and theory that can be easily practiced every day.

Timor Aid chose to work in Trauma healing because of there being so many people affected by Traumatic experiences in their lives and that there is a lack of capacity in the districts to support them. The International Rehabilitation Council of Torture Victims (IRCT) found in October 2000 96.6% of the population had or is experiencing trauma and the medical clinics around the country only have the capacity to deal with the seriously mentally ill.

Timor Aid’s central mission is to build and strengthen the Timorese people’s capacity, so in order to help others and improve the situation we need to start with ourselves, as Fidelio da Costa, Timor Aid’s Trauma healing and Transformation Project manager said, “ Many of us struggle with certain fears, things from our past or recent experiences , which make us feel depressed, unmotivated, angry, scared and not confident but by following some simple practices and relaxation techniques every day and learning about ourselves and these impacts, we can feel calmer, feel good about ourselves and then be better able to overcome our fears and improve our lives and the conditions of the country.”

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