Friday, July 25th, 2014

Register for the upcoming webinar

The National Partnership of Community Training is pleased to present the webinar:

Addressing Mental Health, PTSD, and Suicide in Refugee Communities

Thursday July 31, 2014

5:30pm – 6:30pm EST

Please register here

Refugees face a broad range of challenges that can make them more susceptible to mental health difficulties, including PTSD, depression, and suicide. Awareness of Western medical-based diagnoses is fundamental, but providers must also be aware of the ways that distress is manifested or verbalized by their clients, and feel empowered to provide culturally appropriate treatment or referrals.

The objectives of this webinar are to:

  1. Enhance the capabilities of providers in recognizing and meeting refugee mental health needs,
  2. Assist social service providers in responding to recent increases in suicide attempts in the refugee community
  3. Present indicators, warning signs and prevalence of PTSD, depression, somaticization and suicidal ideation
  4. Present evidence-based interventions for addressing PTSD, depression, somatiicization and suicide

This webinar will be presented by Kristin L. Towhill, LCSW, a psychotherapist who serves as the Clinical Supervisor at the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture. She has worked extensively with clients with trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder from torture, combat, and sexual abuse and assault. She has presented to a range of professionals, laypeople, and students on PTSD, complex trauma, dissociative disorders, and diversity.

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Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment – Information Guide

Congolese refugees have fled repeatedly over the last 15 years as various rebel groups have added to the unrest. As of January 2013, UNHCR reported over 509,000 Congolese refugees and 56,000 asylum seekers residing outside the country and approximately 2.6 million internally displaced people. Congolese refugees are not new to the US. About 13,000 Congolese have been resettled since 2001 with 65% of arrivals coming in the last four years.

This Information Guide offers some background and practical considerations for preparing for Congolese arrivals. In addition, this information guide offers a one page guide to a trauma informed and culturally syntonic approach to service provision, which assists in de-stigmatizing the Congolese and strengthens your role in helping them to become better contributing and functioning members of the community.

This Information Guide was based on the webinar, Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment, which was originally hosted by NPCT on December 11, 2013.

Download the Information Guide – Strengthening the Congolese Community: Background, Resettlement, and Treatment.

View the webinar.

Download a PDF of the PowerPoint slides here.

The International Rescue Committee has also released a Backgrounder on Congolese Women and Girls. Experiences of Refugee Women and Girls from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Learning from IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment Programs in DRC, Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda.

 

Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicides can occur in every community, culture, and country. However, the suicide rate for Bhutanese refugees resettling in the U.S. is nearly three times as high as the average suicide rate in the U.S. according to the International Organization for Migration. In addition, suicide has become an epidemic, especially among youth in Bhutan. The Royal Bhutan Police reported that from 2010 to October 2013, 293 suicides were reported.

Among refugee populations resettled in the U.S., the sense of loss from leaving one’s family and culture, coupled with language learning and employment difficulties can further one’s sense of hopelessness. In addition, the feeling of inadequacy stemming from an inability to provide for one’s family, lessened social support, family and community conflict after resettlement, worries about family in the home country, and difficulty retaining ones cultural and religious beliefs and traditions are also risk factors.

As social service providers, we can effectively assist our clients by educating ourselves on the warning signs, knowing how and when to refer, introducing families to social and education opportunities, and ensuring that clients have someone to help with the resettlement process and the myriad of changes along the way.

In an effort to combat the rising suicide rate among the Bhutanese population in the U.S., the National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to offer the following resources on suicide prevention.

Webinars:

Impact of NPCT TA’s work with mainstream providers: North Carolina to Offer Mental Health Screenings to Incoming Refugees

The National Partnership for Community Training (NPCT) is pleased to report on an NPCT E-learning project developed by course participant, Josh Hinson, a clinical instructor at the School of Social Work and program director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. NPCT facilitates e-learning courses to increase the awareness and ability of mainstream providers to identify and serve refugees who have suffered severe trauma and torture.

After realizing the need for increased refugee mental health screenings upon arrival into the host country, Hinson responded by partnering with Church World Service resettlement staff in Durham, North Carolina to develop a screening procedure. The project will institute a method to identify severe mental health distress in newly arriving refugees and thereby develop a system of care for refugee mental health, including screening and referral to peer support groups, individual therapy, or community-based psychiatric care as appropriate.

Resettlement staff at Church World Service affiliate office CWS-RDU Immigration and Refugee Program will refer clients to Hinson’s project staff who are Masters of Social Work students for an intake screening using the RHS-15. Community Resource Coordinator at CWS-RDU, Kelly Cohen-Mazurowski, is thrilled to be able to offer mental health screenings to newly arrived refugee clients. In the past, clients were apprehensive about seeing a mental healthcare provider; however, now that clients have the opportunity to be screened in their homes with an interpreter present, there is a lot more openness to receiving mental health services. Cohen-Mazurowski explains “that many of the clients have received multiple home visits from Josh and his students and that they appreciate the opportunity to share their experiences and to have help in adjusting to life here in the United States”.

The project will use a three-tiered response system: refugees whose screening is below the RHS-15 cutoff will be offered the opportunity to participate in peer support groups; refugees above the cutoff will be offered individual and/or family therapy, and will be assessed for appropriateness for group sessions; refugees whose bio-psycho-social assessment indicates severe mental illness will be offered psychiatric case management and will be assessed for appropriateness for group and individual/family therapy. MSW students who are in clinical training will select and provide the most culturally appropriate, evidence-based, trauma-focused treatment modalities to provide individual, family, and group treatment and/or case management.

Beth Farmer of Pathways to Wellness at Lutheran Community Services Northwest will be contracted for consultation regarding use of the RHS-15. In addition, Hinson’s project will utilize the Health Promotion and Wellness Format, developed by Dr. Richard Mollica and Jim Lavelle at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, as well as Pathways to Wellness’ Community Adjustment Support Group Curriculum.

Hinson attributes NPCT’s E-learning course to providing the opportunity to be immersed in theory and research on best practices with refugee survivors of torture and trauma. In addition, the E-learning course gave him the networking “opportunity to partner with a local refugee resettlement organization and planted the seeds for our current refugee mental health initiative.” NPCT wishes Josh and his students continued success.

NPCT can help your city/state develop similar tools to help refugees who have experienced severe trauma and torture. Please contact us to be a part of the growing network of cities that are working effectively with survivors of torture through the technical assistance provided by NPCT.

Congolese Success Stories

The National Partnership for Community Training is pleased to present some recent success stories of Congolese refugees.

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Micro-enterprise Program

Charlotte Sews for Success in the Microenterprise ProgramCharlotte, a refugee originally from the Congo, is a skilled and trained tailor with more than twenty years experience in the tailoring business in Ethiopia and Congo. She also worked as a  teacher for a United Nations (UN) Sewing Project for Women in Ethiopia. Charlotte was resettled by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Tucson, Arizona in 2008 with her husband and four children. -excerpt taken from ORR

 

 

 

Providing for a Family of Seven

New Licensed Provider:  Violette Kalambayi

Violette is a  refugee who arrived in the United States from the Congo.  Violette is one of our most outgoing and expressive clients to date.  As a Certified Nursing Assistant, starting her own home-based childcare business was a natural fit.  Violette completed many hours of child care business training and passed all county, health and safety inspections perfectly.  She now boasts three enrolled children. – excerpt taken from ORR


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video address: Fidel Nshombo

“I am blessed as a refugee. Blessed as a citizen and I am blessed as a human being and even better I am blessed that I have been given the opportunity to come here after 15 years of tribulations and explore and extend my opportunities. But more better than that I have been blessed to be put in a neighborhood, in a city, where they support me from the bottom up, Boise, ID. From the street vendors who come and listen to me speak my poetry for hours to the governor who invites me to the big conferences. So I want to tell you this; the mayor has given me a space to help refugees, so I want you guys to go in your neighborhood, find the problems that refugees are facing, even though there is no funding, there is no money through agencies to support those programs. Be a volunteer and start that program on your own. Help those people and later if funding will ever be, it will be better, but don’t wait for money to help. Thank you and God bless you.” – Fidel – excerpt taken from ORR

 

And the winner of the Nansen Refugee Award, Sister Angélique Namaika

Sister Angélique Namaika, a 46-year-old Congolese Roman Catholic nun who has been working with displaced women and girls for a decade in the remote town of Dungu, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Sister Angélique assists displaced women and girls who have been forced from their homes by armed groups – including the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – and helps them to pick up the pieces of their lives.

UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and The Florida Holocaust Museum
cordially invites you to the Tampa Bay premiere of the documentary
Beneath the Blindfold on Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 at 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Click for more information on “Beneath the Blindfold” or to download the flyer

Beneath the Blindfold

Refugee client receives $2,500 as part of Department of Children and Families “Operation Santa Cause’ helping her and her family move after the holidays

AFGHANISTAN

26 June Global Report Featuring FSCT

Click here to read the Global Report on the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture which provides information about the activities that take place worldwide in connection with this June 26th event. FCST is featured on Page 40.

COLOMBIA

Raising Awareness of the Refugee Experience

When we think about trauma, it’s difficult to imagine the scope of what Pittsburgh’s refugee community has been through. These individuals and families have fled their homes from fear of persecution, imprisonment or death simply because of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Many have faced unspeakable and unimaginable acts of torture and trauma. Some enter the United States with little or no education or English, and some have spent their entire lives in refugee camps. Our refugees’ stories can truly make us feel grateful for our freedoms.

Read More

American Red Cross Restores Connection between Siblings Separated by War in Liberia

by Janet McGuire

Wednesday, June 20, 2012 — ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA — The chaos and confusion that accompany war and disaster can separate families when they need each other most. When this happens, the Red Cross joins the search across international borders, offering a unique service to help families reconnect.

read more…

HAITI

Refugee Voices – Christy

“Christy”
Florida Center for Survivors of Torture, Zakira Causevic

Christy is a refugee from Burma and, along with her family, a client of the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture (FCST). She and her family lived in a refugee camp for 12 years. Prior to living in the refugee camp, they had endured many challenges. In their village, many of their neighbors were forced to serve as porters for the military or pay the military a fine. As porters they would have to march with the military for months and were frequently caught in the midst of battle with rebels. Some of Christy’s family died while serving as porter and others were badly wounded. Christy’s father was forced to serve as a watchman for the army. His role was to alert the military if rebels were approaching, he was later accused of supporting the rebel troops and was beaten and tortured. He eventually fled and hid in the Burmese jungle near the border of Thailand. Three years later, the family was then able to reunite in Thailand.

When they arrived in the United States of America, each member of Christy’s family had a hard time adjusting. Everything was very different than in the refugee camp. Christy struggled in school. She could not graduate because of the language barrier and was referred to a GED program.

Christy and her family were referred to FCST six months after they were resettled. Zakira Causevic was assigned to be their Program Specialist. Zakira assisted the family with education, employment, transportation, interpretation, and the process of applying for permanent residency.

From the beginning of their interactions with the FCST, Zakira noticed that Christy struggled with self confidence. As a client centered, intensive case management program, one of the first interactions Christy had with Zakira was centered around creating Christy’s Master Service Plan, a list of goals she would like to achieve. During their discussions, Christy would give up on herself saying that ‘could not do it’. Zakira explained that she was too shy. Together they set several goals; obtain a driver’s license, enroll in the GED class, and find a job. Although Christy wanted to achieve these goals she continued to state: “I cannot do that.” A volunteer was recruited to the family to help them to learn English. The volunteer also noticed that Christy did not have confidence and tried to be very supportive in helping her build her self esteem. With the help of FCST, Christy made steps to work towards her goals. Each time Zakira saw Christy, she encouraged her and celebrated her successes. Finally, to use Zakira’s words, ‘Christy made it!’

Now Christy has her driver’s license, found a job and is going to school to get her GED! Her new goal is to go to college and become a nurse. Clearly, Christy has gained confidence and self –esteem, and given all of the progress she’s made thus far, Zakira and the FCST staff can envision her achieving her new goals!

Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteers: Helping to Make Group Tutoring a Success

One of the most successful tutoring initiatives for the Refugee Youth and Family Program (RYFP) in Pinellas County has been their group tutoring sessions. Each week our Youth and Family Specialists (YFS) pick up a group of clients after school and bring them to a local library. The Middle School group tends to be smaller, with a manageable number of students, while the Elementary School group consistently has 9 or more students in attendance. The students at the Elementary group range in age and English ability, making it a tough job for the four YFS to manage on their own. Fortunately, we have a number of dedicated volunteers who attend the group each week to help the students receive more one on one attention. Each volunteer has a different experience and different methods of working with the children.

Jan, a St. Petersburg resident who has volunteered with the program since 2010, attends the group each week and typically works with one student. She helps motivate all of the students by bringing rewards such as stickers, note pads, or hair accessories. Jan has been most successful in helping to improve the study habits of one of the elementary students about to make the transition to middle school. When Jan first started working with Alejandro, he rarely focused or stayed on task. She spoke to some colleagues and looked into different techniques which could help Alejandro. Over the next few weeks she tried out these techniques, such as improving focus by rewarding hard work with a break for a story or preventing fidgeting by standing at the table rather than sitting. Some of these techniques made an impact, but what seemed most helpful to Alejandro was that he had someone committed to helping him. Although Alejandro still struggles to focus, he is starting to become more responsible and gets started on his work more quickly than he used to.

Joy, a senior at Eckerd College, started volunteering at the group in fall of 2011 to fulfill service hours for class and enjoyed the experience so much that she chose to continue volunteering. Joy helps in whatever way is needed that week, whether it be helping a small group of two or three students complete their homework or practice their reading or working one-on-one with a younger student while the more advanced students do a group tutoring activity. She also assists by creating tutoring lessons and helping in the office. Joy managed to hide her Spanish speaking abilities from the students for quite a few weeks, pushing the students to use their English as much as possible. Joy is familiar with working with young children because she has a younger sibling. She is aware of the tricks they attempt to veer of topic and she has a special knack for knowing just how to motivate them. The students look up to Joy, seeing her as a positive Hispanic role model.

The group also benefits greatly from the help of Anna, who has volunteered in both groups, in home, and in the office, and Tania, who started volunteering with RYFP just as the group was forming and helps out with collecting prizes for the students. We are lucky to have some new volunteers starting out with the group this year as well. The staff of RYFP is indebted to these devoted volunteers who manage to improve the lives and study skills of the students as they persevere through the chaos that comes with bringing a large group of active kids into the library. The students form a special bond with these volunteers and look forward to their arrival at group each week. If you have an hour or two to spare on a weekday afternoon and are interested in being a part of these groups, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator at ddipietro@gcjfcs.org or 727-450-7275. We have several group tutoring locations throughout Pinellas and Hillsborough and can always use an extra hand!

*Client’s name has been changed for confidentiality.