Counsellor and patient in Kenya
Susan Buyukah is a trained counsellor and a member of the Kenyan Counselling Association (KCA). The National Alliance of Churches approached the KCA for counsellors to help after the violence following the New Year election in Kenya, and from there, Susan was seconded to the Youth Building Bridges for Peace in Kibera crisis project. She is also a counsellor at her local church.
“Counselling helps reconciliation. When people feel anger and revenge, you explore where those options lead.” says Susan Buyukah.
“Counselling helps reconciliation. When people feel anger and revenge, you explore where those options lead.”
“After the stomach is satisfied, then you can penetrate the mind. So it was a challenge to deal with the emotional when people came with so many physical and practical needs. But the office was able to offer them at least a cup of tea, and it would warm them up and they would start talking.
Some would cry, and I encouraged it because it’s a good release of emotions. There were tissues on hand all the time! Lots were depressed, you see it in their faces. It was like they were in the middle of nowhere. Counselling gives people options to continue.
“One man I met had been shot. I asked him what would you do if you met the policeman that shot you? He wanted to kill him. I asked him how would he go about it? Would you stone him? He was still very angry and in pain from the injury. But he realised he couldn’t imagine how to kill the policeman. So he saw the other option and he chose, ‘I would forgive him.’”
Lilian Sireka, 43 years, is a mother of 2, living in Kibera, and a beneficiary of a Caritas funded trauma counselling.
“At the counselling people were expecting food handouts, they couldn’t give us something, but instead gave us comfort and listened.”
“I’m a single mother. I depended on my job. I had a small business with second hand clothes. I watched it burn. I was crying with bitterness. I never expected it to happen. Now I have nothing.
“I had friends who were killed, saw houses burnt, property taken. At night, you just heard people being shot. By 7pm, everyone was in their houses. I will never forget what I saw, only God knows, people died in the street for nothing.
“I don’t know what I would have felt if I didn’t have someone to talk to. I was starting to think negative things, hurting myself, leaving the children, I didn’t know what to do.
“After counselling it was more easy for me to love everyone. People are still bitter, but we must preach love and peace, love and peace.”
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