House of Hope – Africa: Trauma and Flight

a train-the-trainer program for returnees in Senegal

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In the fall of 2018, the fka founded the House of Hope in Dakar with the support of the GIZ and as part of the German PME program “Perspektive Heimat” for the reintegration of returnees. It is a place where returnees, in particular, are given the opportunity to come to terms with their traumatic experiences of flight and to find new courage to face life.

An important cooperation partner for the project is the Competence Center for Psychotraumatology at the University of Constance. Trainers/therapists are sent to Senegal via the Academy for Scientific Continuing Education. The basis of their work is the so-called Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) – a method for the treatment of trauma developed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Elbert in crisis areas and refugee camps. Currently, there are long-term projects based on NET in Congo, Uganda, Burundi and South America.

Parallel to the therapeutic offer in the House of Hope, local counselors are trained by an international team of experts. They, in turn, are empowered to treat trauma sequelae. Based on the principle of “train the trainer”, the counselors train further supporters (cascade system), creating a widespread network that gives those affected the opportunity to regain access to the social system.

 

The work of the House of Hope is becoming increasingly popular among the Senegalese population. After initial difficulties in finding clients, our counselors from the first training session have been well utilized for about a year and a half and the project is gaining popularity. We have established numerous informal collaborations with counseling and support organizations and have a presence in the media. The Senegalese team strongly identifies with the basic idea and sees itself as a pioneering team in the field of psychosocial therapies. In the long run, an independent administration of the (international) project by the local counselors and project staff is intended (keyword: empowerment).

Due to the many requests and the high demand for psychotherapeutic support, the House of Hope has also opened its doors to IDPs (internally displaced people) and locals. However, the focus is on returned refugees. Currently, the team is adapting its activities to the multiple new needs that arise in the context of the Corona crisis and are related to the general state of emergency. Our staff* is actively involved in a state task force on mental health support for Corona victims and their families.

On the ground, the fka receives support from the internationally operating human rights NGO RADDHO (Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), which is well networked within Africa.

In addition, the Dakar-based Centre sénégalo-allemand d’Information pour l’Emploi, la Migration et la Réintégration (CSAEM) has proven to be another key cooperation partner for us during the course of the project. It is our complementary GIZ partner in Dakar. We are permanently in contact with the center (client referrals, joint planning, HoH seminars for staff).

Contact in Germany:

Priska Löhr
priskaloehr@web.de
Tel: 0151 70 11 87 49

Danika Helbing
danika.helbing@freundeskreis-asyl.de
Tel: 0179 / 416 63 00

Contact in Dakar, Senegal:

House of Hope – Africa
Mermoz Pyrotechnique
Villa No 57
Fon: 00221-338972064 / 772191129
Email: house-of-hope@freundeskreis-asyl.de

 

“House of Hope, la maison de l’espoir”- a documentary film by Khadim NDIAYE

The documentary “House of Hope, la maison de l’espoir”, produced in cooperation with the production company Bamba Prod, provides a very personal insight into the work of the fka in Dakar/Senegal. Here, not only the project director, cooperation partners* and counsellor talk about their vision and the importance of the House of Hope; also two clients* had the courage to share their story with the people…

More information about the project: