Laugh while you cry
As the pace began in the beginning of the week, the smell of fear rose like ripe mangoes dangling from the branches in the afternoon sun. Even though the newer teammates wanted to embrace "I can," and "it is possible," the severity of the island's future and a new deep love and appreciation for the joyous locals grasped our hearts, and by Friday…some were spent. Yet the Trinis were determined, and again waited patiently for the Green Cross Training to begin.
As Jenner Cotton, a trauma trip veteran, painted a picture of how healing could look, the participants during the Grief and Loss session engaged. Many, ranging in age, vacillated between laughing with her humorous speaking style and weeping over their own personal loss that quickly surfaced. She reached their heart, enabling them to identify with the material. By the end of the day, teammates who had returned from the other sites provided counseling one-on-one, regarding wounds revealed for the first time in the during the earlier group sessions.
The trauma team assigned to the school appreciated the attendance as it was the very last day of work for the teachers before their summer break. Although the need for compassion fatigue was evident in the eyes of workers drained from daily demands, equally as intense was their desire to help the children. Eyebrows rose along with "aha” sighs, as Dr. Harris gently explained the signs of trauma in children. Her style, driven by her humble passion to help workers, enabled those in the group session to voice their experiences while identifying with each other. They soon realized they were not alone, and became empowered. One of the administrators during the week admitted that in order to attend the session she worked throughout the evening, then slept on the chairs in the same building for a couple of hours to regroup for the course commencing the next morning. It only takes one person to change the system, leaders chimed, and on Friday, those on the front line left anchored by hope.
During the evening, Dr. Vanessa Snyder presented the Compassion Fatigue Educator course for the students still seeking GCAT certification, rolling forward like a college football game in the fourth quarter. Students appreciated her attention to self-care and her patience as she answered numerous, sometimes off-topic, questions followed by a gentle redirect. The remainder of the teams attended Woodbrook Pentecostal church for sessions open to members and visitors, for strengthening relationships within the family. Even though the Pastor and his wife model excellence in every task and love in their relationships, they humbled themselves for their people in order to further promote healing in their community. A sign of a strong church, they say, lay in the life of the church members. Clearly, the breath of God’s life permeates in Trinidad.
By Paula L. Henderson
BA in Public Administration,
MS cert. Emergency Preparedness and Crisis Management