Civilian populations living in or near combat zones suffer profound trauma and loss and as fighting ends, face immense challenges in post war recovery. Relief and aid, desperately needed, come from many quarters. Those who have suffered also need opportunities to be active players in their own recovery, calling on their own strengths and capacities in the service of repairing damage and building a preferred future.
ln taking active roles in reparation and recovery from trauma, the view of self as victim is challenged and opportunities to develop a constructive, resilient stance in the face of loss emerge as possible. Narratives of personal and community agency grow and replace a sense of victimhood and brokenness.
We will discuss various aspects of a community-based effort in which citizen volunteers join to develop a program for children suffering the effects of war. Global Children’s Organization (GCO), a small non-profit NGO, provides camps for children in the Balkans whose lives have been influenced by war and ongoing ethnic strife. GCO is staffed by international volunteers partnering with volunteers from BlH, Croatia and Serbia.
These summer programs create a healing environment with activities such as art, music, sports, and group games. Themes emphasized in all activities are community building, respect for diversity and development of individual and collective confidence and competence. We’ll discuss ways this community based program benefits the children and the adults who participate, considering especially how adults gain sense of personal agency, confidence as members of a successful, energized team and satisfaction as caregivers to next generation.
Every year more than 3,000 Danish children under the age of 18 experience the loss of a parent by death. Another 42,OOO children experience that their mum or dad is acutely hospitalized with a severe illness. One of the basic conditions in working with children in loss and grief is that the responsible adult person involved in the child's unbearable situation makes space for the child to be heard, seen and understood. The key to this work is to denounce the part of our upbringing that taught us that silence is golden. Grief is not an illness, but on the contrary a very tough condition of life. lf we realise that SPEECH is golden, we can help the child continue life in spite of the wounds in the soul that a big grief causes.
The problem of finding and identifying missing persons from the war in Bosnia Herzegovina (1992-95) remains one of the most painful consequences of the conflict. Around 13.000 people are still considered missing. The suffering experienced by the families of missing persons can be viewed as a kind of torture, and therefore considered as a serious violation of human rights. This paper presents findings from a 2 year project working with 20 women with missing family members. Group work was conducted with 20 women at the location where their trauma occurred over a 2 year period.
For more than 13 years the project OmSorg (Dealing with Bereavement) has been a nationwide practical founded school and kindergarten based intervention towards children (age: 0 - 18) in loss and grief. The aim is to inspire and support teachers and kindergarten staff in attending the difficult matters concerning responsible adult help to grieving children. This is done by offering educational materials, giving lectures, consultation and courses, establishing training groups for bereaved children and by political lobbyism. One of the basic conditions in working with children in loss and grief is that the teachers share a common approach on what their basic responsibilities are.
This visual presentation explores the relationship between creative arts practice and trauma, loss and grief, including the shadowy world of sexual abuse. It is an examination of what art and the artist, through collaborative creative processes, contributes to wellbeing in the aftermath of such experiences. I will speak of my recently completed PhD and the creative research projects I conducted with communities of women who had experienced trauma and loss and who carried the pain of these experiences for years afterwards.