Nora*, trader in mental health care
PSYCHOSOCIAL MONITORING PROCESS IMPLEMENTED BY THE RESILAC PROGRAM: IGAWA LOCALITY, MORA COMMUNE, CAMEROON
On December 14, 2020, ACF's SMPS-GP teams in Mora received Nora for psycho-trauma care. Nora is a young woman of 30 years old, head of household and mother of 6 children. She sells wood on a daily basis, fetching it from the bush over long distances, then selling it in the IDP camp.
At her request, she was followed up individually because of the situation of her husband. Indeed, her husband was suspected of being part of an organized armed group (GAO), and as such, she did not want to share her story in the middle of everyone; she thus expressed her need to be listened to privately.
Nora's distress began in late 2015, when one day on her way home from the fields, her husband was arrested and to this day, no one knows what happened to him. Later in 2016, Nora was celebrating her little brother's wedding and the atmosphere was jovial and friendly. Then suddenly, the GAOs burst in unbeknownst to everyone. The village was instantly plunged into terror and fear invaded the wedding celebration. Her sister-in-law, the young bride, was kidnapped and Nora's younger brother was killed before her eyes.
From then on, Nora lived in a very precarious situation with her children, sleeping in the fields at night to return to the city, which was quieter during the day, to look for food for her family. This already fragile equilibrium was completely overturned the day the GAO returned to the village and burned everything in their path: houses, fields, livestock. They also looted property, killed innocent people and abducted young boys to join their armed group. Nora fled, and after 7 days of walking with her children and neighbors was able to return to the Igawa camp where we met her.
As a result of these different traumatic experiences, Nora started to develop a withdrawal, she doesn't talk much anymore, she cries every night. She says she has sleep disturbances, bad dreams and appetite problems. The situation of her missing husband has taken away her taste for life. Her nights are restless because she keeps hearing the gunshots of the invasion of her village, which echo in her head as if it were yesterday.
The SMPS-GP team offers individual follow-up to help Nora regain her social balance and reduce her psychological distress. It was essential to normalize her feelings about her traumatic experience. TPS also encouraged her to seek social support, to talk to people she trusts, especially to help her seek information about her husband. As a result of our sessions, Nora has gradually regained her confidence.
In addition, the "safe place technique" was applied to the beneficiary because for her, everything had become dark in her mind and she never recalled beautiful memories and only thought about the painful moments she went through. At this point, we thought it would be helpful to have her practice this technique, the approach to which is to clear her mind and imagine a calm and peaceful place within her in which she can escape. She states:
"My garden that I used to water and watch grow gives me a sense of accomplishment. It was the only place that allowed me to escape and be away from my problems and the screaming children. The fact that I can imagine it again, gives me a feeling of calmness and lightness, I can even smile. Our exchanges allow me to see life differently, not to despair anymore, but to fight to find my husband and be there for my children".
Thus, as the treatment progressed, Nora began to see life differently, and continued to fight for her children. So far, the search for her husband by her village chief and the Red Cross has been unsuccessful.
"I can't give up, if I don't do it, no one will find my husband, thanks to your support, I am aware of my responsibility towards my family".
Nora became aware of her responsibility towards her children, of the importance of having good relationships in the community and being able to count on people. Instead of being dominated by negative thoughts, she tries to move forward and plans to market the pulses and continue with her search for her husband.
Within the framework of the RESILAC project, ACF contributes to and participates in the strengthening and improvement of the psychological well-being of the populations of Mayo-Sava in general and the target localities of Mémé and Oudjila in particular. Indeed, the RESILAC project in its social recovery component and particularly its Mental Health and Care Practice aspect helps all those who have gone through traumatic events. In fact, the implementation of this project consists in providing psychological assistance through individual care strategies for some and group care for others. This technique of individual or group care is justified by the manifestation of the trauma which is specific to each individual.
* The name has been changed