Success in Providing Mental Health Counseling for Protection Workers in Haiti

In the midst of the anniversary of the quake, we have been speaking as often as we can about development rather than relief (see the recent video interview recorded on the anniversary of the quake with Greg and David Pierre-Louis of Kay Tita)

One Hundred For Haiti focuses in the south of Haiti on ensuring that protection workers who are part of the Groupe de Travail pour la Protection des Enfants dans le Sud (GTPE-Sud, or “Group Working for the Protection of Children in the South”) program coordinated in part by our amazing partners at Little Footprints, Big Steps (LFBS) have the resources they need to do the best anti-violence work possible in their communities.

With the political unrest which wracked Haiti this last year, specifically in terms of the social upheaval and extreme violence in the south, we decided to offer mental health support to protection workers through group counseling sessions so that the workers themselves could feel heard in terms of their own experiences of trauma and be better prepared and mentally healthy to help in the communities in which they live.

These protection workers are staff members of LFBS who work under the guidelines of GTPE and in partnership with the child protection group Centre de Formation et de Recherches en Appui Psychosocial (CFRAPS, or “Center of Training and Research in Psychosocial Support”). They go into rural communities to talk to local people about how to diminish violence and sexual assault. These workers also help reintegrate families where children have been lost to orphanages, are often abused, and then through various channels return home. Reintegration can be very difficult for all involved and these people aid and support that process.

But who watches over them in terms of their own mental health? Through the generous donations of people like you, we provided mental health professionals to listen to these people in sessions over a month’s time. Participants are provided matching shirts with the slogan “Pour un staff plus motivé et plus équilibré” that translates to “FOR A MORE BALANCED AND MOTIVATED STAFF”. This creates a team dynamic, and increased each participant’s sense of personal empowerment. They can then go back into their communities reinvigorated where they build stronger bonds, and can instill deeper, new, shared societal values and understanding.

This is what development looks like.