As the Community Based Sociotherapy program (CBSP) is continuing in Muhanga district, 72 sociotherapists from 12 sectors were invited from 26th to 29th May 2014 to participate in the follow-up training in the city of Muhanga.
The aim of the follow-up training was to do a recapitulation of the basic sociotherapy training and to share experiences and challenges in order to learn from one another. Most of the sociotherapists are currently between the 4th and 8th socio-session. The CBSP team was able to visit all the groups multiple times. The team was impressed by the dynamism and motivation of the sociotherapists to lead the groups and also their analytical skills during the training. Out of 536 recruited participants, there was only a drop-out of 1%. Others are still actively participating in sociotherapy sessions.
Some of the challenges expressed by sociotherapists were: Dealing with severe psychosocial problems and conflicts between some participants in the same socio-group; severe cases of trauma; cases of counter-transference during sociotherapy sessions; gacaca related issues and; some methodological gaps in leading sociotherapy sessions.
Testimonies from sociotherapists show that the healing process among participants has started. For example, one sociotherapist shared that a participant in his group, a widow genocide survivor, came in socio-group, while she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She lost her two children during the genocide and decided to commit suicide. Fortunately she was saved by her neighbors. She continued to suffer in her life, as she was re-experiencing the traumatic event and constantly avoiding places and people reminding her of what happened. She could not go to genocide memorial sites, and when she met with children resembling to her children that were killed she felt hatred towards them. But now, after participating in 8 sociotherapy sessions, she came out of isolation and even visited the memorial site.
The follow-up training was perceived as beneficial for the sociotherapists as well as for the CBSP staff. Sociotherapists have expressed their wish to have more training on trauma, the management of emotional reactions, gender and conflict mediation. CBSP will organize another training in which these topics will be integrated.
By Felix Bigabo
Field Coordinator Southern Province
Prison Fellowship Rwanda