With Support from Sweden, UNDP Launches a Community Training Manual on Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support for Trauma Affected Communities in South Sudan
October 12, 2022
Historically and up to the present time, people in South Sudan have experienced high levels of violence, leading to tens of thousands of deaths and trauma-affected individuals. Millions of people have been internally displaced or are living in camps as refugees in foreign countries worldwide. While death and physical destruction caused by violence are immediately apparent, the psychological scars and trauma are less visible and often neglected; if not addressed, they can fuel further cycles of violence.
Evidence has shown that emotional suffering related to war occurs not only due to direct exposure to life-threatening situations and violence but also through indirect stressors, such as injury to or death of relatives or caregivers, economic hardships, geographic displacement, and continuous disruptions of daily living. To come out of such situations, it is salient to recognize and embrace the essential strategies of psychosocial support, trauma awareness and healing, peacebuilding through dialogue, and forgiveness and reconciliation in South Sudan.
Breaking these cycles of violence and the psychological stress and trauma they cause requires applying trauma-informed and resilience-focused approaches to change. Their use within a peacebuilding framework increases the possibility of transformational change in South Sudan, allowing the nation to move towards a more just and sustainable peace; and where development provides a higher quality of life. When the health and well-being of people are enhanced, their ability to contribute to rebuilding their communities and society is greatly improved. The training manual seeks to achieve this by engaging South Sudanese in their context in a manner that respects their value system regarding ‘wholeness’ - the integrative relationships between people, God, ancestors, and nature.
Purpose and Objective of the Manual
The Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support Training Manual acts as a guide for Psychosocial Facilitators to conduct a ﬁve-day training for Community Volunteer Counselors. The emphasis is on psychosocial support, not clinical healing, which is the domain of professional psychiatrists and psychologists. The manual is also a resource from which other trainings, presentations, and interventions about trauma awareness, healing and resilience, peacebuilding and related topics can be developed.
The manual explains trauma awareness, resilience and peacebuilding and how they can help in the recovery and healing process of individuals and communities in South Sudan. It also highlights their critical role in restoring the dignity and hope of the South Sudanese people—and by extension, help prevent future conﬂicts.
Testimonies of Beneficiaries Equipped to Raise Awareness on Trauma
30-year-old James Juma is a teacher at Intersos in Malakal. He says he has the responsibility to care for students in school that is why the training on Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support with support from UNDP through War Child Holland helped him to be able to identify the symptoms of trauma. “I was among the teachers in Malakal that participated in the training of Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support. In my line of work, many children have been traumatized, not only because of the aftermath of conﬂict but also their daily lives in congested PoC Camp,’ said James. James says with limited amount of food, resources and even playgrounds, children are very vulnerable to trauma and many parents are stressed already with their living condition, and often display domestic violence behaviours in front of their children. ‘Through this training, I gained more knowledge on how to identify the symptoms of trauma and how to provide – at least psychosocial ﬁrst aid. Thanks to UNDP, I am happy that I can understand my students better.”
Nyaluak Chol, 26, is a government staff in the Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sport in Upper Nile State. She is a mother of 2 sons. Being a mother, she found that trauma awareness and psychosocial support training is important. ‘This training will really help me to raise my children. By understanding the source and impact of trauma, I will be able to take measures to prevent or help me guide my children in the event they experience traumatizing events.” Nyaluak says the training also equipped her with knowledge on referral pathways and she is on alert to recommend them to any member of her community who experiences Gender Based Violence.