War Trauma Foundation (WTF) helps people and communities that have been victims of war and violence. We teach them how to cope with trauma and how to help and support each other.

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The Trauma Girls
In 2013 Wendy Ager visited the Ahfad Trauma Treatment Training Center (ATTTC) in Khartoum for War Trauma Foundation (WTF). The center was established last in 2012 by Ahfad University in cooperation with WTF and aims to help individuals, families and Sudanese communities that have been impacted by trauma and adversity.

Sudan is still recovering from 20 years of civil war that ended in 2005 with 2 million death and 4 million internal refugees.

Wendy Ager lived in Malawi for some years but this visit to Sudan is a first and she had no idea what to expect. She felt encouraged by the warm reception and the interest in WTF’s work at the Sudanese Embassy when applying for her visa. And on her flight into Khartoum she sat alongside a family from Britain with three young children who were visiting their grandparents in Sudan. “One of the children taught me a few Arabic words and told me to eat the delicious local watermelon and mangoes.” The Arabic words of course were used and the fruit eaten with great pleasure..

During her trip to Sudan, Wendy worked on the development of case studies and other training materials, drawing on the training the ATTTC has hosted over the last year. “Finding ways of documenting the learning that takes place within this kind of experiential training is a challenge” she says, ”but it is important. We looked at the cases the women discussed and recorded during the training, to see how we can use the material to generate case studies. Carefully worked case studies that reflect realities on the ground are excellent tools in enabling trainees to learn and apply knowledge and skills. However it is important to avoid harm by identifying real people in the process”.

The visit was planned to coincide with a third phase of training co-sponsored by War Trauma Foundation, this time concentrating on cognitive behaviour therapy. It was the third journey of the trainer to Sudan. “The urgency of the situation in Sudan, particularly in Dafur, hits me every time again. The women we train to become trauma counsellors encounter extremely poignant problems without getting professional support themselves. Our training gives them state of the art trauma counselling knowledge focused on their own culture, emphasising interaction to provide a local support network carried by the counsellors themselves.”

Those attending the training are all women. “In this field, women seem to predominate the world over“, says Wendy, “at least in frontline services.” The trainees come from all over Sudan and work in a variety of settings including mental health, family child protection, and the ATTTC itself.

One of the local professionals trained by WTF is Inass*, a 35 year old woman working in the Al Fashir refugee camp in Darfur. On a daily basis Inass witnesses the results of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan. “Long years of displacement, murder, rape and fear” she says, “are more than many people can bear” particularly in a refugee camp, which should in fact be a safe haven. “The reality is otherwise. Just like in other camps we are regularly being attacked and witnessing inter-ethnic violence”.
The trainings and WTF’s training materials make a huge difference to Inass. “Also because in the training I have now met other counsellors like me. It’s great to learn and work together, share experiences and knowledge.”

“And you know what?” says Wendy Ager, “Inass and the other trainees call themselves “the Trauma Girls’. They seem to derive a great sense of solidarity and support from one another. There’s lots of laughter in the group and sharing, alongside a serious commitment to professional development in the face of considerable challenges regarding the people they are supporting.”A closing note from Wendy’s diary: “The ATTTC is located within Ahfad University for Women. I am currently sitting in the covered courtyard where food is served at the university. The sound of the female students is like a huge flock of birds chattering. Not many people are eating because it is Ramadan, but they are all clustered together catching up with one another in the shelter from the sun. The hoardings above us say in English ‘Your World of Escape’ advertising the local phone company, but it seems to me to have another meaning in relation to the potential that higher education brings for women in their lives ahead.”

If you think psychosocial support is important?  Please help WTF and donate!

Creating a save school environment in (post) conflict areas
How does one develop a relationship with traumatised parents? How does one recognise the psychological problems of a school-child? What is the most constructive manner of working?

War Trauma Foundation shares its experiences with psychosocial programmes for schools in conflict areas in the recently published manual

Since 2004 War Trauma Foundation (WTF) has worked with programmes for psychosocial aid to schools. In collaboration with local organisations, we have trained local aid providers, teachers and helpers in the Northern Caucasus, The Palestinian territories and Kosovo so that they will be able to recognise psychosocial problems and counsel children in an professional manner.

Set up of the programme
The manual provides information on how to set up a psychosocial school programme, what problems one may encounter and which people one may come across – local authorities, trainers, teachers, parents, children – and how to approach these situations. We describe the working methods used and the role of the local partner organisations and their approach to the programmes and collaboration with the WTF. Furthermore, we provide a theoretical substantiation of our approach. The manual also contains a number of methods for organisation and capacity development.
Letter addressed to one’s own feelings

The manual also contains a large number of methodical tips; for example, how can a child get through to his or her parents when they are pre-occupied by the conflict situation around them. A good example is a school in Hebron that started to involve the mothers in all kinds of activities, such as eating, cooking, planting trees etc. The manual also contains inspiring examples of works, such as school children who wrote a letter to their own feelings during school time. It is a way to say goodbye to bad experiences and to let go. Discussing what certain sounds from nature symbolise – such as the sound of birds, rain, wind etc. – is a good way to induce children to speak about their feelings.
The manual will also be translated in Russian. The manual can be ordered or downloaded from the website: www.wartrauma.nl

The manual is a good example of how War Trauma Foundation documents and exchanges knowledge, experience and best practices in the field of Psychosocial support.

Local War Journalists
Syria, Libya, Egypt, Guatemala. These are all countries where (civil) wars or conflicts have raged. Journalists are working, often literally in the frontlines of violence and often pay a high price for the news which keeps the world (us) informed. We witnessed many examples of journalists who are disabled to do their work because of traumas they have to cope with.

An always present agony
The need for recovery from psychological injuries is extensive. A laptop or car are replaceable but who helps to cope with pervasive memories of blasting bombs, wounded people and dead corpses and relieve them from an always present agony?

War Trauma Foundation wants to support local war journalists by working together with Free Press Unlimited (www.freepressunlimited.org). This organisation works to ensure that reliable news and information are and remain available to people across the globe. Particularly people in countries where there is little to no press freedom. By supporting local media professionals and journalists, Free Press Unlimited helps to enable as many people as possible to gain and keep access to the information they require to survive and develop.

Coping with trauma
Together with local journalists we want to work on improving their resilience, to enable them to catch up with their difficult and important missions. We also train local people who can offer first aid to journalists. For this we implement our Psychological First Aid programme. Moreover, (future) war journalists and aid workers get trained in preventing and coping with traumatisation reactions to violence.

Please support our much needed project for local war journalists


War Trauma Foundation (WTF) helps people and communities that have been victims of war and violence. We teach them how to cope with trauma and how to help and support each other.

Focus themes

HealthcareEducationHuman Rights

Problem statement

WTF was founded in 1997 by Maurits Cohen, who had been involved for years with psychological aid to Jewish war victims. The images of the refugees from the Balkans in the late nineties inspired him to initiate psychological aid to todays' war victims. WTF works with a team of professionals and volunteers who are specialists in psychosocial aid. WTF is part of the Arq Psychotrauma Expert Group: eight organisations involved in alleviating psychological trauma. The unselfish collaboration and financial support of funds, companies and private persons is essential to the work of WTF.

Main activities

WTF develops and shares knowledge and experiences and provides education on how to cope with the psychosocial consequences of war and violence. We do that in cooperation with local organisations so that our methods suit their living environment and culture. WTF trains aid-providers and develops regional networks in areas of conflict, and promotes that people aim to achieve psychosocial recovery through collaboration. WTF joins the world of science and research with the world of practical assistance by publishing the international journal ‘Intervention: the International Journal of Mental Health, Psychosocial Work and Counselling in Areas of Armed Conflict’. We also publish training material in various languages. WTF promotes international standards in order to guarantee the quality of its psychosocial programmes. These guidelines are applied when training local aid-providers.

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  • Versterken van weerbaarheid jongeren

    De Democratische Republiek Congo (DR Congo), met 69 miljoen inwoners, was jaren verwikkeld in een reeks gewelddadige regionale oorlogen (1997,1998-2002). Deze oorlogen hebben aan meer dan 3 miljoen mensen in DR Congo het leven gekost en hebben het land economisch en sociaal zwaar beschadigd. In 2003 werd een vredesakkoord getekend maar in het oosten van DR Congo zijn er nog steeds gewelddadige conflicten tussen het regeringsleger van DR Congo en diverse rebellengroepen. De provincie Kivu is ernstig getroffen door de gewapende conflicten. Angst, onderlinge achterdocht en gebrek aan veiligheid staan de bouw van een toekomst van met name jongeren in de weg. Salvation Army DR Congo heeft sinds 2011 een onderwijs- en gezondheidsprogramma in onder andere Oost DR Congo waar men dagelijks geconfronteerd wordt met de traumatische gevolgen van de gewelddadige conflicten. War Trauma Foundation (WTF) heeft in de periode 2008 - 2012 in zowel Oost DR Congo als in Burundi gewerkt met ‘Narrative Theatre’ om het vertrouwen tussen mensen te herstellen en te werken aan psychosociaal herstel. Ook de lokale staf van ‘Salvation Army DR Congo’ heeft in 2012 deelgenomen aan de trainingen in Narrative Theatre die door Dr Yvonne Sliep gegeven werden. War Trauma Foundation en Salvation Army DR Congo bundelen in dit project hun lokale ervaringen en gezamenlijke expertise om tegemoet te komen aan de gesignaleerde (psychosociale) problemen.

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