Most families have them: the beloved relative who returned from military service, more or less in one physical piece, but nevertheless a changed person.
One hundred and two years ago, my great uncles, Sam and Leo were teenage brothers, fighting side by side, in the trenches of northern France. A bombardment buried them alive. Miraculously, they survived, and eventually came home.
In the years that followed, they never spoke about the war, or much else, for that matter. Yet, they were almost telepathic, finding comfort only in each other’s silent company. Their brother, (my grandfather), Eric, had been too young to serve in the Great War. He could never understand the bond between Sam and Leo that excluded him and the rest of their family and friends. Nor could Eric grasp why his older brothers seemed to lack ambition, settling for undemanding careers and strained marriages.
Sam and Leo would have instinctively understood the challenges faced by survivors of the Rwandan genocide.
Why Counselling is Important
Witnessing and enduring unimaginable horror often leads to a sense of isolation. Who could possibly grasp what survivors have been through? The answer is: other survivors.
This is why the group counselling supported by Network for Africa has such a powerful and helpful effect. After years of feeling no one understands, and sometimes doubting their own sanity, survivors find they are not alone. Guided by our trained local counsellors, they finally unburden themselves of their fears. The process is not a cure-all, but it equips people to manage their trauma. With support, survivors can learn to control distressing flashbacks, and then try to rebuild their lives.
Sam and Leo’s generation, and many who followed them, were left to muddle through. Network for Africa thanks you for helping us provide a more humane approach to the aftermath of horror.
Our thanks go to our Founder (and Trustee), Rebecca Tinsley for this personal piece this month. It was written with Mental Health Awareness week in mind, which runs from 13-19 May 2019.