The heat sears and beats itself against us as we sit on hand made wooden benches during a regular afternoon in a village outside of Dungu. A steady drum beat of dull warmth. I slip in and out of a soaked awareness of where I am, what I am seeing, what the stakes are.
Since the intervention is conducted in Zande, I watch for non-verbal cues from participants as the session progresses, watching reactions, observing interactions. A translator keeps me generally apprised, but I learn the most from watching what goes unsaid.
We have only done two sessions out of the nine so far and yet one of the head teachers came up to me energetically at the end of the second session and explained emphatically that he has already seen a difference in the children since we first showed the first Mobile Cinema film two days ago. I asked him how.
“I see the children who were not abducted playing with the children that were abducted.”
“Really?” I asked, surprised in such a change in a few days.
“Yes,” he said, “I have seen it. I watch and observe. It’s so good.”
Children accepting other children, sparked through encountering story, their own story, and getting to share their thoughts with one another.
This was more than I expected and I thought back to the session that had just ended, as I watched the children and their parents learn relaxation techniques which are self-soothing skills that can help reduce psychological distress.
One little boy next to me had his eyes closed so tightly, carefully listening to Jacqui (DTJ facilitator)’s instructions on how to imagine a “safe place” and create it in your mind. I watched his face, contracted in concentration, imagining his safe place. He was trying so hard to create one, his determination and effort written clearly all over his small and beautifully formed face. And I wanted to cry as I witnessed this child try hard to imagine a safe place in his mind because his own reality is full of so many dangers.
And this is why we are here.
Every child deserves a safe place, not just one they have to imagine.
- Written by Lindsay Branham
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