SOS Village – Healing the trauma of post-election violence

Healing the trauma of post-election violence


There are so many versions given regarding the genesis of post election violence in Kenya. It’s not apparently clear as to why so many people were killed, displaced from their homes and their houses torched! Nonetheless, through the mediation process a commission of enquiry has been established to dig deep into the root cause of the problem, to make recommendations and to reconcile the feuding parties.

SOS Children’s Village Eldoret is among the many organizations that were affected due to the post election violence. Staff and children from the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School witnessed all manner of violence committed. Children as well as teachers saw people being butchered, houses torched, and mass displacement and exodus to unknown destinations. These negative experiences have adversely affected the learning process at school: teachers, children and students are grossly traumatized. For this reason the Kenya national office, in conjunction with the Eldoret children’s village and the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School sponsored a post election workshop for the staff and children both from the community and the children’s village.

A counseling group was contracted to provide services to the traumatized members of the SOS fraternity. It was a one week exercise that emphasized practical aspects of healing. Children were given priority to draw pictures of things they had experienced after the elections. The violent drawings depicted the real trauma that had engulfed the school community. Children were given group therapy, and those who deserved specialized treatment got personal attention. At the end of the process most children seemed relieved of their burdens to some extent.

SOS co-workers went through the same process but at a deeper level. They were first taken through theoretical aspects of counseling and trauma; then had group discussions through which many horrifying experiences were narrated. Some of the teachers explained circumstances through which they lost either their property or even their relatives; most of the staff members suffered indirectly by being forced to contribute money to self styled vigilante groups.

One of the teachers in the primary school narrated how he was compelled to give money to a gang of boys who wanted to buy petrol to burn down houses. He had to do it or suffer adverse consequences. In addition, another primary teacher is a typical example of an internally displaced person (IDP). She was displaced from her original home on the outskirts of Eldoret town: her house was looted, she was chased away and sought shelter around the SOS Children’s Village Eldoret. She confesses that psychological torture was part of her trial, though she has now forgiven the looters. Many more narratives were expressed through drawing and writing. Finally the papers were burned bringing relief to many of the participants.

The SOS Children’s Village Eldoret and the Hermann Gmeiner school have resumed their daily chores, the mistrust amongst staff members has faded away and people look at each other as colleagues again. It’s our prayer that the national healing process will be speeded up in order to allow internally displaced people to resettle in their new homes. I would recommend that any other multicultural institutions in the country to emulate this gesture and enable everyone to undergo a psychological therapy so that trauma may be lessened nationally.

by Simon Mudi
Youth Leader- Eldoret
.

Source: SOS-Kinderdorf International

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