Trauma-Pedagogy in Northern Iraq
Since 2013 the Friends of Waldorf Education (FWE) have been offering trauma-pedagogical activities for children and adolescents in camps for internally displaced people in Iraq with the goal of strengthening their resilience and self-healing powers. Local pedagogues work in the three child protection centres. They go through an intensive training in trauma-pedagogical methods alongside their work. FWE have received financial support from UNICEF and in the current project year from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) GmbH.
In most cases, people, who have to flee from their homeland require urgent psychosocial support to be able to process their traumatic experiences. Their reasons for fleeing, be it a natural catastrophe, war, or violence, are irrelevant. But helpful offerings on site are usually only insufficiently available.
The Friends of Waldorf Education (FEW) have been active in Kurdistan Iraq for 4 years now and offer refugee children, adolescences, and the surrounding communities in the region of Zakho much-needed support.
The offerings in the three child protection centres are carried out by local, trained pedagogues. The local pedagogues are trained in 5 missions each lasting two weeks by an international team. These teams consist of trauma pedagogues, Waldorf pedagogues, art and psychotherapists, experiential pedagogues, and medical personnel.
The activities, based on trauma- and Waldorf-pedagogy, include among others, concentration exercise, various art therapy offerings and targeted physical activities for experiencing the self and success. A structured and rhythmic daily schedule promotes a greater sense of safety and trust and thus leads to an enormous reduction in stress levels which provides additional support.
In addition, the international team offers parents psycho-education seminars. The parents are given information about the psychological and physical childhood development and the often disrupting impact traumatising experiences has on it. Additionally, topics of self-care and psychosocial support by the family and community are discussed and promoted.
Another important pillar of the work is trauma pedagogical teacher seminars. Here teachers learn about the psychological, physical, and educational developmental disorders children can develop when a traumatisation occurs and how they as teachers and pedagogues can support these children.
Also at the University of Dohuk seminars about emergency- and trauma-pedagogy are taking place. They offer psychology and education students an introduction in working with traumatised people by means of theoretical as well as practical units.