“I lost ten of my children during massacres in Burundi. If that wasn’t enough, I lost another child in the Mtendeli refugee camp where I had fled to after leaving Burundi,” explained Pili Mbanza in a very calm and low voice while using the palm of his right hand to seemingly repress his past.”
Pili, a 61-year-old Burundian refugee is one of many refugees living in the Nduta refugee camp in the Kibondo district in the Kigoma region of Tanzania who has experienced trauma.
“These memories keep on haunting me every day, says Pilli. “I carry this nightmare with me every single day and it is very traumatic.”
He now attends the case management clinic for psychosocial support at the HelpAge international centre located within the camp.
Asylum seekers and refugees have very little to do in the camps, which exacerbates their problems. Many become stressed and can’t handle the burden of these traumatic memories.
Pili explains: “When I am alone, I suffer from anxiety and depression and sometimes I feel like I want to take revenge for what happened to my family.”
HelpAge International, in partnership with BMZ and UNHCR, created the rehabilitation centre to provide psychosocial support to people with these special needs. A specialist works with the patients to identify the problem and then offers close follow-up support and a well-structured case management and response system.
Counselling, sports, games, and age-friendly activities are also part of the treatment offered with a view to transform individuals and help them to live the normal life possible.
“Since I joined this rehabilitation centre, I met with my peers, talked, and opened up to them about my feelings and right now I feel like the burden is taken away from my chest and I don’t carry it anymore; the games that we play here are very supportive. Mentally, I feel very relaxed when playing these games with my peers,” explains Pili.
More than 100 people from both camps are attending the rehabilitation centres for psychosocial support. The treatment takes a holistic approach, focusing on the mind, body, and spirit – striving to help people reach their full potential in all aspects of their life.
Story and photos by Victor Mapile / HelpAge International
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