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Code of Ethics
ATFT Foundation Goes to Rwanda, Africa
By Paul Oas, M.Div., PhD., TFT-Dx
In April of 2006, a 10 member Mission Team traveled under the sponsorship of the ATFT (Association for Thought Field Therapy) Foundation, www.ATFT.org., to Rwanda and the Congo to do research and provide trauma therapy and training. They used and taught the revolutionary process of trauma relief developed by Dr. Roger Callahan, author of “Stopping the Nightmares of Trauma.” (For a brief synopsis of the TFT process, see www.RogerCallahan.com.)
Their focus was primarily on the 400 “Street Children” of the El Shaddai Orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda, “home” for those orphaned by the 1994 genocide and subsequent AIDS and poverty.
The Team was co-sponsored by Christ Lutheran Church in San Diego, who has raised $35,000 of the $48,000 pledged to feed and bed the 400 orphans for a year. Five of the Team were from CLC. (www.Christpb.org)
This team’s mission statement was: “To help create healing and stability in Rwanda by using Thought Field Therapy to heal the wounds of trauma and by training cast iron cookware and the Congolese to use TFT to help their fellow citizens heal the wounds of the past and move forward to create a strong, peaceful and healthy nation.”
What motivates 10 Americans from the ages of 29-75 to leave jobs, practices, spouses, children and the comforts of home to travel thousands of miles to the heart of Africa – a country replete with war, genocide, corruption, disease, poverty and seeming hopelessness?
You will have to ask them!
I can only share some observations.
In selecting the team, these were the qualities I initially looked for and found:
On the road, April 10:
Toss in 2 sleepless nights on crowded airlines by team members attempting to bivouac in Nairobi from Hawaii, LA, Phoenix, DC and Kuwait, a flight cancellation from Nairobi, Kenya to Kigali, Rwanda, and arriving “shower less” and disheveled 4 hours behind schedule.
Reluctantly we honored the insistence of Pastor Peter Ilungalutum, the Director of the El Shaddai Orphanage, to “stop by” and be welcomed by 400 children orphaned by the 1994 genocide, AIDS and poverty.
We were bounced and whisked to an abandoned warehouse where these hundreds of former “street children” had been waiting 4 hours to welcome our arrival.
What we experienced then was impossible to describe without tears welling up again. It was for me the signature experience of our mission. As 10 weary travelers descended from packed Land Rovers into a cave like entrance to the warehouse, voices of 400 dutch ovens singing at the top of their lungs was overwhelming in its stark contrast to what we anticipated.
We saw faces beaming with joy and animation, eyes wide with excitement. For over an hour they mesmerized us with singing and dancing. Like Ravel’s “Bolero,” the beat and dance escalated until our “Raggedy Ann” travelers were “seduced” onto their feet – joining hearts and feet in a crescendo of connection.
We were there to “heal” them? This experience alone was worth the “price of admission.”
With but an hour to travel to our lodging, splash water on our faces, run a brush through hair – most were on time for our 4:00 p.m. staff meeting with our local hosts and Embassy volunteers.
The Presbyterian Guest House was our domicile for the next two weeks. There were clean rooms, mosquito net draped beds, showers and bath. (Electricity and hot showers were sporadic, but “shower sharing” rescued us.)
Tasks at hand:
Due to typical African communications, Suzanne Connolly’s training of 35 psychologists, pastors and teachers was postponed for 10 days.
This allowed time for Caroline Sakai to rally the team to the task of therapy and research. Having recently returned from two deployments to New Orleans and Green Cross Certification, Caroline launched into the formidable details involved in adequately translating our PTSD approved testing instruments into Kinyarwandan and receiving approval by its author. This became an amazing team effort requiring many trips to the Internet Café until appropriate and adequate translations were acceptable and in place.
The team worked till late at night assembling research and training materials. Days were spent in testing and treating as many children and staff as possible.
Meanwhile, 3 of the team, Carl Johnson, Beth Bates and Paul Oas left for the Congo and Northern Rwanda to provide training and follow up continuing education for last year’s trainees in Goma and Ruhengeri.
Now, time for a weekend break!
Six of our team journeyed to the mountains separating Rwanda from Uganda and the Congo to track down the elusive Silverback Gorillas of “Gorilla’s in the Mist” fame.
Their mountain climbing trek through thick jungle rewarded them by a literal “brush” with the gorillas and left them rain soaked and mud caked as ecstatic reincarnations of “Diane Fossey.”
Our final enameled cast iron cookware was no less exciting and rewarding. 35 students arrived from the Congo and various parts of Rwanda for the two - day training in TFT. (Due to the extreme poverty in Africa, it was necessary to subsidize students for travel, food, lodging and training.)
The training was led by Suzanne Connolly, a seasoned tutor and traveler. Since January, she already had two training deployments to New Orleans, and one to Kuwait prior to Rwanda.
With 6 assistants and a translator, the students not only learned the basics, they also experienced relief from their own pent up traumas, which helped solidify their education and experience.
The remainder of our time was spent in treating as many of the orphans and staff as possible and to ensure that protocols for research follow up were in place.
Farewells were heart wrenching, as affection-starved children were once again being “abandoned.” Clothes were drenched with intermingled tears as orphans clung to new friends and “surrogates” from America.
It was now impossible to determine -- who had healed whom?
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