Two community-counselling Psychologists and one Social Worker were involved in providing trauma debriefing to community members in the affected area, Sadiyya Haffejee, Hanifa Ebrahim and Hawa Hoosen.
A total of 7 group sessions were held, with approx 10-13 per group. Ages varied. 1 individual session was held.
All sessions generally followed the same format and used art therapy as a medium to elicit information. Sessions focused on containing and normalizing symptoms and providing some basic education. Where mums joined in (as in one of the groups, the therapist used it as an opportunity to debrief the mothers as well). Children displayed symptoms of PTSD, including hyper vigilance, anxiety and nightmares. Emerging issues concerned fear of the tornado returning, uncertainty as to the course of such an occurrence and general anxiety over living conditions. Beliefs that the tornado was a snake appeared dominant and appear to be reinforced by parents and seem to be linked with traditional superstition.
During the session, children were asked about what makes them happy and interestingly in one of the groups, the majority of children replied flowers, gardens and trees are a source of comfort and happiness. This ties in with one recommendation i.e. the establishment of a food/veggie garden. Establishing something that they are able to take ownership of which would ensure sustainability of the intervention and could lead to greater empowerment.