Trauma Counseling & Rehabilitation
The Empower workshop seeks to heal those who suffer from trauma post-genocide. Both survivors and offenders attend the weeklong workshop in groups of about 36, learning strategies to cope with extreme stress and finding healing as they share their stories.
Empower is a trauma counseling and rehabilitation program originally created for the healing of child soldiers in Uganda. It was adapted to Rwanda’s context by a local Rwandan team working alongside trained counselor Rob vanderZaag, who completed an extensive literature review of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) within a genocide context. Rob launched Empower and trained local Rwandan as facilitators, and CARSA has now been using the program since 2012.
Empower aims to alleviate the effects of PTSD and build resilience in people’s lives, particularly for those from poor communities who do not have the resources to seek help on their own.
The program teaches and guides the participants step by step, with each day building on the discoveries of the day before. Participants are taught to share their stories in a safe way that does not result in re-traumatization, and then given the opportunity to do so. They are taught how to deal with the symptoms of PTSD and also equipped with knowledge and skills in order to give and receive forgiveness.
Empower is a program for both victims and perpetrators. Click here to read participants’ stories.