Page 22 - IU Southeast Summer 2012 Mag

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The graduate student was right.
Woodward, whose research has
narrowed in on post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), discovered a
community much in need of counseling
and recovery: former child soldiers from
These young men had faced
unspeakable horrors during a 14-year
civil war. Though the Liberian civil war
ended four years before Woodward’s
2007 trip, she discovered that many
were still suffering because there was
no way to receive therapy.
She decided immediately to change
that situation.
Woodward has since made several trips
to West Africa to help set up proper
channels for Africans to receive mental
health screenings and counseling. As
her studies on child soldiers concluded,
she expanded her goal of
providing mental health
services to war
survivors and
the general
population in
other African
including Ghana.
In 2008, she
took her first
group of IU
students to
Africa to
help survey
citizens and war
survivors in order
to screen for PTSD.
In June 2012, she will
return to Ghana with a
third group of IU Southeast
“Our work is important because if we
don’t go over there and help, no one
else will,” said IU Southeast alumna
Katie Kavanaugh (B.S. ’10), who went
on the 2010 trip.
The effects of war
In 2007, Woodward and her family
moved to Africa for six months to
allow her to focus on her research. It
helped that her husband, IU Southeast
Associate Professor of Geosciences
Peter Galvin, had a similar research
interest. The two paired up to
document the resettlement of former
Liberian child soldiers, Galvin from
a human geography standpoint and
Woodward from a psychological view.
They traveled to Liberia and to Ghana
to meet with former Liberian child
soldiers in the Buduburam refugee
camp. There they surveyed dozens of
refugees and Woodward offered 100
therapy sessions.
The Liberian civil war raged from 1989
to 2003, killing almost 250,000 people
and displacing close to 1 million people
to surrounding countries including
Ghana. The conflict left the survivors
with an untold number of physical and
emotional scars.
The stories that
Woodward heard and
the damage she saw
in Liberia and at the
refugee camps were
“The rebels and
government groups
were horrendous,”
she said. “One
person I met saw
over 200 children
being buried alive
by bulldozers. You
go into Liberia
and you see men
everywhere with
missing arms and hands;
that’s a very common injury.”
It was routine during the war for rebels
to cut off the arms or hands of their
In terms of
my work in
Liberia, we’ve
only just
Lucinda Woodward
A Ghanaian woman carries yams back to her village.