Earthquake and Me. Trauma and Community Engagement : Nepal

Nine months after the April 2015 earthquake, Artists in Community International, returned to Nepal. Each year we run an arts program there with a range of communities, and with the Nepal School of Social Work (NSSW).

Before arriving in-country Pradipta Kadambari CEO at NSSW requested  a program called Trauma and Community Engagement. Our intention was to teach students about trauma, its impacts on the individual and community, and how social workers can creatively assist in re/building and participation in community life, post-trauma.  The program built on our earlier classes with the NSSW, our work in communities such as the brick factories in Nepal, and  Anne’s work and research in arts and trauma recovery in Australia.

Understanding trauma, especially complex trauma and its effects, is essential knowledge for social workers. It is a fast-growing field of knowledge. With this expansion comes a deeper understanding of the foundation of some mental illnesses, unhealthy behaviours, addictions, suicides, poor health and a person’s inability to thrive. In Nepal there are few services available to assist victims of trauma, especially the most common traumas of abuse and neglect. That NSSW is actively training and equipping young social workers with awareness, knowledge and a wide range of skills with which to address and alleviate trauma, is an immense contribution to the Nepali community.

Our training workshop was 3-days creating concertina books with students and teachers.  Part of that program was interviewing students about their response to creating the books.   However, most students involved were very keen to use that opportunity to describe in detail their experience of the earthquake and how creating the books had given them their first opportunity to really reflect and express about it.

In this first video, Sagar Khadka, a social work student, describes his Earthquake and how creating the books with his friends helped alleviate the impact of the trauma.

In the following two years I have shown this video a number of times to my 3rd Trauma & Community Engagement students at Chisholm Institute, Melbourne.   It has been a moving and excellent way for them to hear how  the trauma theory they are learning, is felt by an individual and community.   Chisholm have been absorbed, saddened and moved – but importantly they have learnt a lot about trauma, and creative community engagement. 

We are very grateful to the students at NSSW for sharing their stories with us.

There are a number of posts about the earthquake on this site.

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