Studies conducted in 2012 show that 54% of all refugees exhibit symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder. They feel emotionally detached from their surroundings, and suffer from flashbacks or severe, often debilitating anxiety attacks. In many cases, they become socially isolated and engage in self-destructive behavior including drug and alcohol abuse. And, particularly in the case of young men, the social stigma placed on showing emotional distress or so-called weakness means that these people suffer in silence. The world is waking up to the fact that we are in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. We have now the highest number of refugees ever.
During the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, members of government and civil society around the world pledged millions to support food, water, education, and housing programs to help these refugees lead successful lives and reintegrate into society. Unfortunately, without treating the emotional wounds of war, these programs will not be sustainable. Better schools cannot help children who suffer from anxiety attacks so severe it is impossible for them to learn. With a new generation of children born into refugee settlements and unstable environments, it is crucial to immediately begin dealing with the psychological impacts of war, or risk this new generation being victimized in turn by ongoing violence and instability, and suffering from the same emotional afflictions as their parents.
"With a new generation of children born into refugee settlements and unstable environments, it is crucial to immediately begin
dealing with the psychological impacts of war, or risk this new
generation being victimized in turn by ongoing violence and
instability, and suffering from the same emotional afflictions as
COUNTERING TERRORISM - HEALING THROUGH ART
Healing Through Art is designed to help victims of violent attacks overcome their emotional wounds and stop the perpetuation of violence from one generation to the next. Over 51 million people around the world have lost their homes to armed conflict and natural disasters. Although the humanitarian community has banded together to provide food, shelter, education, and some possibility of hope for a stable future for these victims, such efforts cannot truly create sustainable change in peoples’ lives unless they also address the deep psychological traumas created by these events. Memories of violence and devastation lead to feelings of disassociation, leaving victims more likely to fall into patterns of drug and alcohol abuse and unsafe sexual behaviors, often leading them to become the perpetrators of violence against others. This situation is worse among refugees for whom a normal life no longer exists. Their homes and families have been taken, community support structures have broken down, thus victims are more likely to be recruited into the very terrorist organizations that made them refugees in the first place. Unless the underlying psychological afflictions are addressed, the cycle of violence will pass from one generation to the next.
HEALING THE EFFECTS OF POVERTY AND ABUSE
Our programs are geared to help children who have survived trauma and abuse, and that almost always involves them living in poverty. These children face a unique kind of victimization or re-victimization, from which it is difficult, often impossible to escape. The emotional scars are deep and survival instincts often lead to the perpetuation of violence.
Children who have been abused, such as children with albinism, children disciplined with hot oil, and child victims of human trafficking are all subject to stress disorders, often severe, but with little hope of diagnosis or intervention. Without healing their trauma, these children often grow up to repeat these abuses with their own children. ICEHA's Healing Through Art program gives these children and their families a way to diagnose issues and begin the healing process.
THE ICEHA DIFFERENCE
Many art therapy programs focus on creating a 'safe space' for participants to communicate their emotions and
begin distancing themselves from their trauma. In these programs, there is unfortunately no mechanism for
diagnosing the myriad psychological afflictions that these survivors are facing. Healing Through Art, on the
other hand, employs a rigorous assessment program that allows us to understand the specific affliction of each
beneficiary and design a healing program around the assessment results. Healing Through Art (HTA) not only
provides art, music, and theater supplies to refugee camps and settlements, but provides in-depth training to the
volunteers and mentors who execute the program on the ground. These mentors, including social activists and
professional writers, painters, teachers, and other artists, are trained in the art techniques as well as methods for
screening program participants (survivors) with the goal of identifying those who are in need of further psychological support. These volunteers work with parents and community leaders to train them on methods for creating safe environments that foster emotional healing. Above all, they help foster a sense of community support that is vital to stopping further traumatization for survivors living in settlements and camps. Finally, professional psychologists lend
their time to treating the more severe cases of PTSD and other trauma.