THARS Programs

New pathways to peace

 

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The Awareness Raising/Sensitization Program.
We make people aware of trauma issues. We educate both the public and our clients on the importance of healing trauma. Our message is that people need not suffer when there are services available to help them. We educate the public to break the silence, for example, when rapes occur.
 
We have produced and distributed many fliers and pamphlets explaining what trauma is, how it affects people and what will promote a healing process. We give talk shows and interviews on local radio and television, broadcasting messages of hope and health. In this way, we begin to plant the seeds of peace throughout our society.
 
The Trauma Healing and Conflict Transformation Training Program has provided over 240 training sessions where participants learned to plant the seeds of peace . We used our successfully adapted curriculum to conduct workshops and seminars. The training is both theoretical and practical. For the training of the community practitioners, over half the workshop is spent in practicum, giving participants the opportunity to test their skills in role play so that they can see for themselves how the methods work.
 
When community practitioners encounter cases beyond their capacity, they are trained to make appropriate and timely referrals. Part of the training covers norms or standards of practice. These include professional standards of care, protection, making and following up on clinical referrals and accessing legal or medical services.
 

Training topics include:

  • What is trauma?

  • Listening skills

  • Understanding the cycle of violence

  • Traditional ways of handling grief and loss

  • Stages of trauma recovery

  • Working with traumatized children

  • Conflict transformation
     

Another important aspect of THARSí work is the widely used and highly successful Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) pioneered by the Quakers for use in the New York State prisons. AVP provides non-violent options for the resolution of conflict. Since 2002 basic AVP training has been provided to many people. Many hope that this program can help restore the humanity that has been buried under decades of civil war and ethnic conflict.
 
THARS has thus far provided listening centers and formed support groups in many locations. Listening centers offer clinical intervention by community professional counselors. These men and women are stationed in intervention zones where the need is greatest: Bujumbura, Gitega, Ngozi, Muramvya, Cibitoke, Makamba, Muyinga and Ruyigi. In addition to providing ongoing psychosocial clinical intervention, our listening centers are a primary referral destination for the other community practitioners.
 
Listening centers provide safe spaces, quiet and discreet places for providing effective counseling and support services to those who need help or simply need to express their pain and concern.
 
Support groups enable participants to draw strength and encouragement from each other and help breakdown the sense of isolation and hopelessness.
 
The Sexual Violence Rehabilitation Program has served many victims. This program was developed to respond to the ever increasing number of rape cases throughout the Burundi. The Victims of Torture project helped us understand the great need to address sexual violence and abuse as a special issue.
 
Under this program we manage shelter houses where rape victims and other sexual violence survivors live for a given period of time, while our staff provides psychosocial support and clinical/medical assistance.
 
While survivors are in the shelter, our staff work with each victim's family and community to persuade them to welcome back the survivor and be part of her healing process. This advocacy intervention motivates and sometimes challenges the community to support the victimís reintegration. Without the services of these shelters, rape victims have few options and are likely to experience more assaults.


THARS works with the Peace Through Pieces program which enables sexual assault victims and others to participate in in group quilt-making. 
 
Research and Database Program. This program was developed when students from various universities got interested in our work. Thanks to the U.S. Embassy and George Fox University, we expanded our resource center by shelving more books in our fields of interest.
 
Our resource center manager keeps records of all our services and number of clients served on both sexual violence and torture survivors. Thanks to the data-tracking forms and instruments, we have seen which areas in Burundi have the most torture survivors, rape victims (children, young adults and old) and track the process of healing of our clients (moderate, severe, and mild). Interested organizations have consulted our research findings and database to enrich their services to the Burundi community.