20 Certified Grief Recovery Specialists in Africa
Many of you may wonder why I would leave my comfortable home and private practice to journey to Africa, so far away to a land of disease, extreme poverty, and violence - where even clean water is a luxury - for me the answer is simple. My heart burns for those who are less fortunate, for those the world has forgotten. As American’s we have been blessed with so much compared to others in the world and I believe that we should pay it forward. So, I leave my family and job to go and give away the wonderful life changing skills of The Grief Recovery Method that I am blessed to know as a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist Trainer. Why Africa you ask, let me introduce you to a glimpse of their broken hearts: Malaria-Malnutrition-TB-AIDS steal their lives and families away daily. One in eight children dies before their 5th birthday. With 14.8 million children having lost one or both parents to Aids, 1/3 of the 200 children at the school where we served being HIV positive with the life expectancy of 50 years, it is no wonder that Pastor Kioko would make the statement “With all the wars, conflicts, oppression, death, and famine ravaging our continent I believe that it would be an understatement to declare grief a continental disaster.” We can’t change the poverty, disease, death, and violence BUT we can give the people of Africa Grief Recovery skills that will allow them to live with joy in the mist of their dire circumstances. And as we experienced from this last trip, it means the world to them! In January 2012, I took a team of Grief Recovery Specialists with me to Africa. This was a continuation of the work I began there in 2008. After doing the research to prove the need and the cultural relevance, it was now time to begin training Certified Grief Recovery Specialists.
Some of the pitfalls the African clergy face:
1.They teach their congregations that they are not supposed to be sad because they have God.
2.They don’t listen and let people talk. They spew out spiritual and intellectual reasons and never sit to hear the heart of the people.
3.Most have no counseling or listening skills, so even though their heart is in the right place they end up making people feel more isolated and guilty for feeling sad.
4.This leads to a congregation of defeated people who carry around a lot of needless emotional pain.
5.Life is overwhelming in Africa already; they don’t need to carry needless emotional pain when there is a simple way to be free. And that is where we come in. In Kenya we held a one-day Grief Recovery Seminar where 69 pastors and leaders attended. The goal was to teach them about grief (defining grief as the conflicting feelings caused by the change in a familiar pattern of behavior), how to relate to those who are hurting, and teach them how to listen from their hearts. The seminar also helped the pastors and leaders understand what The Grief Recovery Method is all about so they were better able to help us identify those who would be appropriate to be trained as Certified Grief Recovery Specialists. One pastor came up to me with tears running down his face and said “I have been spiritually killing my congregation but I didn’t know any better. Thank you for coming and teaching us how to connect at a heart level with our people.” We then were able to train 19 Kenyans as Certified Grief Recovery Specialists through our 4-day Grief Recovery Method Certification Training. In the class, they were given the opportunity to work through their own personal pain and learn the essential skills to help others. When the class was completed they were given the Grief Recovery Handbook and all the materials needed to run Grief Recovery Method Support Group, as well as the tools to work with people individually. To see their faces light up as they received their own healing and the joy they expressed at now being able to help others find that same joy was beyond words!!!! Personally I was able to witness a 10 year dream unfold in front of me…to be able to give the best to those who have suffered so much is such a humbling experience.
The major challenges I found for doing the training classes in Africa:
1.In America, we are used to being inundated with information but that is not the case in Africa. We realized early on that we needed to scale down all the information for them and keep it as basic as possible.
2.The ability to make copies of the homework pages is not an option for them. They will have to copy down their assignments on a tablet. The cost of one copy is sometimes more than a person makes for a day’s wages given the average income is $100 per year, not to mention the fact that you have to go to a larger town to just find a copy machine!
3. To provide everyone with a book so they can complete the reading assignments is another issue, complicated by the cost to purchase and transport the books there, the fact that some people don’t read, and some only read in Swahili. Our book is available on CD but few people have access to CD players, not to mention electricity. Our temporary solution to the problem was to have the Grief Recovery Specialist read the book to them during the class time. Our three-fold goal is to educate and empower Pastors/Leaders, to train Certified Grief Recovery Specialists, and to reach the teenagers with the same information. Why the teens? Because they are the future leaders and with healing they can believe they are leaders and lead not only the church but their country from a place of a healed heart. That can change a culture as well as a country.
From Kenya we headed to Uganda where we did a Grief Recovery Class with 9 teenagers from a home for orphans. The results were over the top! I wish you all could have been there to see and hear their stories of healing…..next trip we will have sound bites…..stay tuned we are returning to Uganda and Kenya in May 2012. Our goal is to increase our teams each time so we can have a bigger impact and change a continent.
Results of our 19 day Grief Recovery Method Trip: 69 pastors educated in Grief Recovery 20 Certified Grief Recovery Specialists 9 teenagers and 2 adults set free ... Value of our 19 day mission trip = priceless!