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Pwogwam Sante Mantal and Child to Child Training in Jeremie, Haiti – July 5 to July 9, 2010

childtochildOn July 4, 2010, a team of mental health specialists travelled to Jeremie, Haiti to conduct a mental health training with the goal to sow the seeds for a mental health approach which would be truly Haitian in nature. The team consisted of Jeannette Diaz-Laplante and Renate Schneider (Maryknoll Affiliate - Chicago Central), both psychologists, and Celine Woznica (Maryknoll Affiliate - Chicago Central), a public health specialist as well as Stania Philizaire, interpreter and photographer, and Gerard Vital, interpreter. The project was sponsored co-jointly by Haitian Connection – Koneksyon Ayiti and the University of West Georgia. Mental Health TrainingThe training consisted of two major components: general mental health training for members representing six different community groups, and a Child-to-Child training for teachers representing eight different schools in the greater Jeremie area. For the general mental health training each day was devoted to a particular aspect:
Day 1: What is mental health? Mental health problems, consequences and impact mental health problems have on individuals and communities, various types of interventions
Day 2: Depression
Day 3: Anxiety, psychosis, alcohol abuse
Day 4: Stress, mental health first aid
Before the trainers presented, each of the 27 participants contributed their understanding of the various themes of the day. These were noted down on a flip chart and present the basis for developing a Haitian mental health approach.

Listening SkillsIn addition to developing a mental health knowledge base for the participants of the training much emphasis was put on the practice of active non-judgmental listening as well as on the practice of a number of relaxation techniques including massage. Group games served as icebreakers.

The training concluded with evaluations, submitted anonymously, and some quotes from those comments follow:

“My experience of listening showed me that it is not when you give advice only that you help others, but when you listen to others you give them encouragement, and that made me want to be more attentive to what others are saying.” “When we played a game at the beginning of the seminar that gave everybody energy and helped us to leave our worries behind.” “It was the first time I received a message from somebody else, and it made me feel good.” “We found tools for mental health first aid.” “I learned how to help someone with mental health problems and how to help myself also.” “I learned listening and respect.” “I congratulate the facilitators for the excellent methodology they used. I would like for this seminar to be held in other places, because it is good for Haiti, it provides the tools that we can use as resources.”

Shakir StripTo assure follow up of the training each of the six groups from the greater Jeremie area committed themselves to a mental health literacy campaign within their own communities, and already identified specific places, dates and times for this. If we can expect a minimum of 60 people attending each of these events, the mental health literacy campaign will touch at least 300 people. The six groups mentioned are the mothers’ club in Paroty, a rural community outside of Jeremie, the mothers’ club in Latiboliere, another rural community outside of Jeremie, CADOHGA, a small medical clinic in Jeremie, the Jermie nursing school, the Baptist church in Jeremie, and the Fondasyon Nouvel Grand’Anse. A general coordinator has been chosen who will visit these groups and assure carry through of noted commitments.

The Child-to-Child training, based on a renowned international program held in over 70 countries had 24 teacher participants representing eight different schools. In addition 20 children participated each afternoon to provide practical hands-on for the teachers. The Child-to-Child program employs a particular methodology based on four main concepts: Observe, Study, Act, and Evaluate. The concepts are introduced as the four tires on a bus which will carry the program forward. While the teachers and/or program leaders learn the methodology, it is the children who identify issues or problems in their communities. Once all these problems are laid out on the floor, it is the children who then rate them as to their seriousness or importance for their communities. In this way children are empowered to become agents of change. The themes chosen for the training in Jeremie ranged from diarrhea, smoking, children with disabilities, and disastrous events. These themes while following the methodology of “Observe, Study, Act, Evaluate,” were brought to life via skits, songs, and games.

Bus ActivityThis training also concluded with evaluations, submitted anonymously, and some quotes from those comments follow:

“I learned that children are very important.” “A lot of important things can be done without a lot of money.” “I discovered that games are good and very instructive.” “The facilitator used a lot of real life examples and helped me understand.” “I learned that children can intervene by themselves and they can work well and they can learn.” “I would like for the seminar to take roots all over Haiti.”

Each of the participating teachers committed to bring the program to their schools. Those schools that have older children at the middle school level will train them and then send them out to primary schools where they will work with younger students. A general coordinator has been appointed who will visit the schools once every two months to see how the training is implemented.

Buttefly HugThe US team will produce a sign that can be hung in each school stating: This is a Child-to-Child School.

The 51 participants all received a certificate signed co-jointly bye Haitian Connection, the University of the Nouvelle Grand’Anse and the University of West Georgia.

A Haitian board for Pwogwam Sante Mantal has been established which meets monthly to discuss follow up as well as begin drawing up a mission statement, along with goals and objectives. The US team will begin work on a training manual which will allow for even greater portability of the training. The funding for the program came from the following sources:

$2,000.00 A grant from the National Council of Behavioral Mental Health
$450.00 Catholic Theological Union - Soccer Tournament
$500.00 Partners in Progress
$2,314.75 University of West Georgia Student Fundraiser
$1,000.00 STAND (Amnesty group UWG)

We would like to extend a great debt of gratitude to our sponsors and a heartfelt thank you. Without this funding the program would not have been possible. We believe that it is of interest to our sponsors that close to 5,000.00 Dollars went directly into the local economy of the greater Jeremie area via stipends for transport, food for the participants and the facilitators, stipends for interpreters, cooks, local arrangement personnel and others. For Haiti this is of great significance.

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