Mental care and trauma support

The parents and families of a lot of the children and teenagers living in the Omaruru Children’s Haven did not have the means to ensure a safe environment and future prospects for their children. Many of the children and teenagers were neglected and had to go through all sorts of bodily and mental violence, before they were taken in by the Omaruru Children’s Haven. Furthermore, some of them had to witness their parents being ill and dying, partly with the knowledge that they themselves suffer from this illness.

This is the reason why we work together closely with a child- and youth psychologist. We can thereby support the children and teenagers with processing their traumas and reduce the profound effects of these experiences. Our psychologist has been working on present topics with our children and teenagers in individual and group sessions since 2013. She uses psychological methods that are fitting for the age and needs of the child or teenager in question.

Not only is it important that the children and teenagers find a way of dealing with their experiences, it is also important that our house mothers and volunteers are able to support them in doing so. The psychologist provides workshops which house mothers and volunteers attend and which mainly focus on the following areas: normal development processes and connected behaviour during childhood and youth as well as psychological and behavioural results of different kinds of trauma. This helps with understanding the children and teenagers, especially in conflict situations. By learning and practicing understanding behaviour, good communication and effective pedagogical measures in the workshops they are also able to respond correctly to the behaviour shown by the children and teenagers. In addition to the workshops, there is also the possibility for the house mothers and the volunteers to discuss acute topics with the psychologist in individual sessions and to get some advice. In this way the well-being of the house-mothers and the volunteers is supported and thereby possible negative consequences for the well-being of the children and teenagers are diminished. This supports a harmonious and compassionate cohabitation.

Another important aspect of our mental care is the guidance of the HIV-positive children and teenagers. In particular with the start of puberty several of the children suffer more due to their illness. The question: ”Why me?” is often connected to this state, especially if the child in question has  HIV-negative siblings also living in the Omaruru Children’s Haven. In these cases, we try to explain with a lot of love and empathy that HIV/AIDS does not have to be a barrier for a mostly normal life nowadays. We support the affected children and teenagers in finding a way to deal with their illness and accepting  the fact that it will accompany them for the rest of their lives. Thereby we help them with understanding that a regular intake of the medications and a healthy lifestyle is particularly important for them.