In our last post we explored the physical rebuilding that is taking place after the ravages of ISIS. But the physical rebuilding is only one part of the process. There is real concern amongst the church about the psychological impact of the ISIS emergency on the communities. The old people are traumatised, the young depressed and frightened. Read our next post to find out what is being done to meet this very challenging need.
To combat this, Fr Aram (pictured, R with Sr Veronika) has set up two Trauma Centres, one in Al Qosh and one in Tesqopa. We were lucky enough to visit the Al Qosh centre on our last visit and heard much about its excellent work providing psychotherapy for PTSD and its training of the young people for work based skills, and against social issues such as early marriage and gender-based violence. It was inspiring to see its work continuing and expanded to include its close neighbour, Tesqopa.
Crucially, the centres are open to all faiths, particularly important in Al Qosh which has a large Yazidi minority living nearby. As was written in large letters in each of the classrooms in the centres, “We are all one family.” As part of the Centres’ work in improving the chances of the young survivors in the community, Fr Aram has also instituted English lessons (English being the most sought-after language; a philosophy also evident in the Anglophone MQS). It was rather delightful therefore to walk into one of the classrooms and see it bedecked with double-decker buses, the Houses of Parliament, red phone boxes and Big Ben in the middle of the Nineveh Plain!
We also discussed the financing of the centres with Fr Aram. Because of the expense of getting professional therapists to come to stay at the centres, the budget from last year was $127000 in total. However, he was keen to stress that a lot of that came from individual small donations.