Community Based Counselors Trainings in 189 villages of Nyagatare and Nyaruguru districts

August 2022, UYISENGA NI IMANZI in collaboration with Munini and Nyagatare hospitals through BAHO NEZA project, which is supported by the IMBUTO FOUNDATION provided the trainings to mental health service providers. From 189 villages, in which we have selected 2 community based counselors (CBCs) and 18 schools (Abahumurizamutima) from four sectors of NYARUGURU district, which are Mata, Kibeho, Munini and Ruheru, and four sectors from NYAGATARE district, which are Nyagatare, Rwimiyaga, Rwempasha and Tabagwe. The participation was really good 96%; 179/184 from Nyaruguru, 187/196 from Nyagatare, 36/36 schools based counselors have got skills to support others in the safe spaces to be created, in their communities and schools. Abahumurizamutima are selected people from Youth Volunteers(YV), Inshuti z’umuryango (IZU), teachers and students with listening skills, advanced capacity to understand and provide mental health awareness as well as enhancing mental health wellness through interventions within safe spaces (Urubuga baho neza).

The CBCs have been trained to different practices and technics to support people to regain strength and courage to deal with life’s problems. Moreover, they have been trained on a module composed of theories encompassing the mental health concepts, Baho Neza and their interconnection to mental health wellness, and much more on practical tools to provide mental health support as well as awakening peoples mind towards some of the things to do, with the aim of protecting and sustaining their psychological wellness. In fact, the trained tools have been developed by UNM professionals by adapting narrative therapy to Rwandan culture as well as contextualizing some of the existing arts based tools delivered from MAP methodology. CBCs got chance to learn and practice more than 36 tools that are: Time when my heart was open, line of life (individually and collectively), Mood thermometer, Sankarewa, Story gifting,
Name the problem (individually and collectively, a letter to a problem, inviting what will replace the problem, love being me, Team of life, Tree of life, Empty chair introduction, House of Life, Garden of hope, Story circle, big wing brows, shake out, counting direction, ku mazi ku nkome, Bado, ziraguruka, take and give, Certificate and so many others. Throughout the training, CBCs leant how trained tools are facilitated with respect to narrative therapy phase of Healing that are; Exploration, Healing and Graduation. As their main purpose is to decentralize mental health support on the community by communitarian, they have been trained on communication skills, inclusion criteria, starting rules and why is it important.

For the sustainability and easy reach to the expected outcome, all levels and institutions working with the community have been involved where on the 14th and 30th August 2022, 42 local leaders including health center managers, social affairs of each sector, in charge of education on sector level and district level, directors of health on district level and head teachers of 16 selected schools have been trained on different concepts as well as discussion on their contribution to their population, mental health wellness and the sustainability of the safe spaces to be created in each village of their respective sectors.

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