Saturday, June 27, Day 1
Building walls and wielding swords
Early this morning a team of twenty five professors, students, and mental health professionals gathered at the airport to begin the long journey to this year's destination for the Center for Trauma Studies at Regent University- Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Benjamin Keyes, Director of the center and Green Cross Academy of Traumatology (GCAT) is leading this group together with two of Trinidad's finest, Lemuel and Osanne Williams, to equip and empower the people of Trinidad in addressing the devastating effects of trauma in their community. GCAT is an international, humanitarian assistance organization originally established in 1997 to provide education and practice standards for those working in the area of trauma and disaster relief.
In the last year, key leadership has been planning and many team members have been attending various trauma training classes at the university in preparation for this seventeen day adventure. Together with Woodbrook Pentecostal Church pastored by Rev. Osbert and Angela Williams, the team from Regent is working with multiple organizations and community leaders. The main focus of this trip is to lay the foundation for a new chapter of Green Cross Academy in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad to be directed by Lemuel Williams, M.A., a Regent Alum. During the next two weeks local mental health workers, government officials, and community leaders will be trained in compassion fatigue, assessing post traumatic stress responses, providing appropriate treatments, and addressing issues of grief and loss. Despite the beauty and pride that is the Trinidad people, there are deep wounds that have been passed from generation to generation because of addiction, sexual and physical abuse, and domestic violence among a large percentage of the population. A strong stigma with mental health issues and receiving help from a psychologist or counselor prevents individuals from experiencing healing. The mental health system also is in need of additional tools to better treat those who do come to them.
In this blog, it is hoped that you will have just a glimpse into the work in which we engage. The opening of the GCAT chapter is only one part of the team's purposes. Each day, one of the various sites where we go will be highlighted.
Like Nehemiah who galvanized the people of Israel to build and fight when their past had seemingly destroyed their hope of a future, the members of the Regent team hope to bring information and research-based methods, as well as the Spirit of God, so that the country of Trinidad and Tobago can rebuild their walls to be even stronger.
Amanda N. Trent, Psy.D.