Page 23 - IU Southeast Summer 2012 Mag

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From left, Counselor Joe Williams, IU Southeast professor Lucinda Woodward, and James Aulto, director of the
War Affected Children’s Rehabilitation Organization, prepare to meet with clients..
IU Southeast
Summer 2012 21
opponents, preventing them from
casting a vote.
But by far, one of the most disturbing
tactics undertaken by rebel forces was
the use of child soldiers.
Young boys were often kidnapped from
their families and trained to become
killers. The average age of the child
soldiers was 12 years old. By the time
Woodward traveled to Africa in 2007,
many were young men who were
suffering greatly from their experiences
during the war.
Woodward quickly noticed the absence
of any mental health professionals
to counsel survivors – there are no
psychologists and just one psychiatrist
in the entire country of Liberia.
Kadio Sah Ali is the executive director
of the Pan African Center for Peace, the
group that Woodward collaborates with
on her trips to Africa.
“There is such need for ongoing
research in this area within the West
African sub-region – especially Liberia
where we experienced 14-plus years
of civil crisis with the larger part of the
population staying traumatized from
the war,” he said through e-mail.
The Pan African Center for Peace
provides peace education and other
development initiatives through
training programs and community
volunteering. It also promotes
children’s and women’s rights and
empowers orphans and war-affected
youth through life skills initiatives.
Ali, now living in Brussels, Belgium,
first approached Woodward in 2007
during her work at Buduburam. He
had been searching for international
volunteers to help establish a trauma
counseling training program for
Liberian refugees in Ghana. He has
since worked with Woodward on
multiple efforts with former child
soldiers and to conduct a major
epidemiological study of PTSD in
Monrovia, the capital of Liberia.
“(Woodward’s) study has made
significant contributions to the lives
of community members who attended
her trauma counseling and awareness
sessions,” Ali said. “Any research
programs that would further the cause
of trauma healing is most worthy. I have
no doubt that (Woodward’s) research
will help scholars, policy makers,
and the public at large who may be
interested in helping with the healing
process of Liberians.”
Making it personal
One of Woodward’s clients was
Augustine Lekpyee, or “Prince,” as
he was known during the Liberian
civil war. Like many of her survey
participants, it was hard to know
whether he was coming initially for
the PTSD help or for refreshments
and the $1 a day in grant funding that
Woodward is able to offer participants
at Buduburam for taking the survey.
“One morning a friend walked to me
and said ‘Prince, one white woman
will be conducting a workshop on
trauma this morning and there will be
refreshment. Are you coming?’ and I
answered ‘Yes, why not?’ So we left for
LIBERIA
GHANA
WEST AFRICA