September 4th 2016, Bal Ashram (BBA), Jaipur
A week ago, I arrived at my destination and purpose of my trip: Bal Ashram in Jaipur. I met the freed child slaves and the team of Bal Ashram. Together with Nirpendra-ji (the manager of the Ashram) we explaned to the children that I work as a psychologist. The children were very happy, especially because I will stay for a longer period. Most volunteers come for a few days or a few weeks, but not very long. The kids call me didi (sister) and ask me to read their minds. I found it funny to hear and tried to explain what a psychologist can and can not do. They are eager to learn English. So we have now agreed that I will teach them English and they’ll brush up my Hindi. They also wanted to learn the Dutch language so we sang Dutch songs together; “Ik zag twee beren” and “Altijd is Kortjakje ziek”. Furthermore, they have feasted on the syrup waffles, gingerbread and macaroons I handed out. This was very touching.
Psycho-education for the BBA team
Together with project coordinator Kalpesh-ji I will prepare a workshop for the team of Bal Ashram. BBA would like that the whole team has knowledge about mental disorders and will be able to recognizing it. BBA therefore asked me to give workshops to the entire team. A total of 40 people; permanent employees of Bal Ashram and field staff. It will be a challenge to make the workshop interactive and personal for such a large group of people, but I am confident that it will succeed. In addition, Dhananjay-ji (Executive Director of BBA) asked me to coach the permanent staff (8) on a weekly basis.
The team is completely open to therapy instead of medication for the treatment of psychological problems. I am very happy! The medication they use here are bezodiazepine, which was also our estimation. This fear silencers are required in particular in Mukti Ashram (New Delhi) when the kids are just liberated. Dhananjay-ji asked me to also provide the workshop ‘Mental Health’ to the team of Mukti Ashram. I will have to figure out how I can get it fit in the planning of treatment and research in the Bal Ashram.
Collegues at the Bal Ashram
A cautious start with the kids
I will also provide psycho education to the children with the help of the children’s book ‘Tim and the EMDR miracle’. I will explain more about EMDR, psychological problems and what a psychologist actually does. It’s all step by step. The children are very vulnerable and need to be approached with caution. They know I am here to help them, but do not understand completely in what form. They have become accustomed to me and ask for help by actively sharing their problems.
Save by Seva Foundation was planning to screen all children (55) on PTSD. A positive screening would then lead to a comprehensive intake in order to make a diagnosis. But Nirpendra-jii and Kalpesh-ji asked whether all children can get an interview. Ethically it feels nicer to actually give all children an intake, so it is more clear what the issues are of each child.
Much has happened in the past week, but there is much more in planning for the coming months of my stay in the Bal Ashram. I’ll keep you informed, so stay tuned to the next blog!
Namaste, Rishma Khubsing, Save by Seva Foundation
“Because every human being is entitled to psychological assistance”