News from Rumbek

Healing the mind through group and individual counselling sessions

Inner healing is an important part of human development. It gives peace of mind and can also help improve confidence, self-esteem and the discovery of oneself.

In Rumbek, our communities face a lot of issues caused by inter-communal conflicts that can lead to mental health issues among our people. Mothers, children and young girls are very affected by these conflicts. For young women, the issue of child/forced marriage is also a source of trauma.

In Loreto Rumbek, we try to address these issues by providing ways for our beneficiaries to improve their coping skills.

Sr Petra, a psychotherapist is a Romanian religious sister that is currently serving at Loreto Rumbek. She facilitates group and individual counselling sessions for our students, graduates and interns.

Sr Petra providing individual counselingAccording to Sr Petra, “Emotional and mental wellbeing is a human right. In this context, many of our interns and students had various forms of trauma, psych-social interventions are sometimes vital. Our services include individual and group sessions. In group counselling, our goal is to improve the lives of our students, interns and graduates, often it is more helpful to attend both counselling sessions, such that people can talk about what comes up for them in the group with one individual psychotherapist.”

She added, “Some of the people that have been through counselling sessions have learned to cope with the situation and accept to live with it as part of their lives. Some have learned how to solve their own problems. A number of the interns have happily returned to share how counselling has been very helpful to them during their difficult times.”

Adol (name changed to protect privacy), one of our beneficiaries explains, “I began my private session with Sr Petra in March when I came back from home after I lost my dad. The reason why I decided to take up the counselling with Sr Petra was because the loss of my dad really affected me psychologically and emotionally. Sometimes, at my work place I could be so aggressive or absent minded. I felt that I needed help and someone to talk to.

When I began with Sr Petra, I was really depressed the first day that I met her. I could not say anything apart from crying. I felt a bit relieved after I cried knowing that someone was there to listen to me. I felt that I needed to go to her more often for counselling because it helped me. The rest of the days I was able to talk to her and slowly I became calm and accepted the fact that I lost my dad.

It became something I could talk about and could not cry although I felt bad. I did exercises of breathing in and out when I felt that I would blow up or felt a bit down. it really did have a good impact on my life. As the time went by, I requested to join the group counselling and I did it for self-development. It was really exciting because I like anything that is done as a group.

When I compared the two sessions I developed more interest in the group not in a bad way but it was open. We shared ideas. Our colleagues are able to tell us what one is capable of. During the group counselling, I found out that we all have problems moreover similar.”

Another beneficiary of the counselling support offered at Loreto Rumbek is Susan (name changed to protect privacy). Susan describes, “What I got to know about counselling is that it makes me feel lighter and I also got to learn that sometimes we carry burdens that might not really be ours hence holding us back. My individual counselling with Sr Petra really helped me as I began to discover potentials.

I am the only one in my family that has been able to join secondary school and the rest of my siblings are all in the cattle camp. We were all taken to school but my brothers were taken out of school and put back in the cattle camp leaving me alone in school. With all this inter communal fighting, I lost one or two brothers almost every year. This leaves me feeling bad all the time and I feel like it is my fault that my brothers are dying and had I convinced them then this won’t be happening.

Photo – Paul Jeffrey

Education is the only way to give life back in the sense that people are safer when they are in school. I was able to cope with all my problems through the counselling.
I felt that I was confident enough to face any situation after going counselling for three months. I am very grateful for the help that I got from Sr Petra and for her walking me through my tough times.”

Our beneficiaries also participate in art, dance and sports in addition to individual group and counselling sessions. Some have found drawing, colouring and molding to be effective coping mechanisms when dealing with stress, while others use dancing and sports for stress management.

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