Healing the Wounds of War
In October, a group from Divine Mercy University and Dr. Benjamin Keyes, Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Trauma and Resiliency Studies (CTRS), travelled to Beirut, Lebanon to provide specialized trainings on the topics of trauma to outreach workers, clinicians and those working with the people affected by the violence in Aleppo, Syria. This was the second trip of the year for Dr. Keyes, this time focusing on a different set of trainings.
“Thanks to the generosity of others, I had an opportunity to step into a country that has been fighting its own battles and help people from another country,” shared Marion Moreland, a M.S. in Counseling student. “We worked in 4 languages and yet when we parted I knew I would miss these people and their stories. It was a blessing to experience how counseling skills allow us to come into the sacred space of another person’s life and to help them heal even when their loss and tragedy is far beyond anything I can comprehend. It is truly humbling. This trip has made me want to learn more, so I can do more. It was a privilege to be able to share in the sacred space of these people’s lives and to hear their stories while helping them to learn something that they in turn will be able to give back to their community.”
Seeing the hopefulness of the people they encountered was one of the most moving parts of the trip, according to Marion. After five years of occupation by ISIS, who are currently on the outskirts of the city, the town of Aleppo has a chance for restoration and healing. The number of Christians has fallen from 250,000 to just 30,000, demonstrating the ravaging effect of war and terror on the religious population in Aleppo.
Dr. Keyes has seen the impact directly of the trainings and how they are able to make a difference in a short amount of time. “I have seen many who have blamed themselves for the death of someone else, even though it was a casualty of the war and violence, and experience deep anger, depression and sadness. Through a particular training we provide, specialized to treat those affected by traumatic experiences, we have seen a complete turnaround in perspective and an increased ability to function. The resilience and determination of the community to heal is inspiring.”
Next summer, the CTRS is planning an immersion experience for students, alumni and community professionals in Romania to work with the gypsy population in the western part by the Hungarian border. They will work alongside the social workers who support the local prison system, the child abuse system and provide support to the leading organization, the Smiles Foundation.
For more information on the Center for Trauma & Resiliency Studies, visit https://divinemercy.edu/ctrs/
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