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Cultivating Wellness

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This summer marked successful completion of “TI-CCP”, the Trauma-Informed Cross Cultural Psycho-education training. More than 12 refugee community leaders from 8 countries received training on the impact of trauma and resettlement on refugees’ mental health and social well-being. They learned about ways to support their community members through the transition of resettlement and became healing partners with community service providers.

This care model hinges on the idea that refugee community leaders understand the cultural nuances, traditions, experiences, and language of their peers and, with training, are ideally positioned to offer healing social support to one another. Participants in the TI-CCP training then have an opportunity to facilitate “Community Wellness Workshops” (CWW) with other members of their community. The Wellness Workshops are designed to locate the idea of mental health in the context of a person’s overall wellness, and to provide safe spaces for sharing, cultural wisdom, and deepened social support amongst those participating. 

This project has come to life thanks to a partnership between the IRC’s New Roots Program, The Women’s Initiative, Dr. Hyojin Im, and a growing network of refugee community leaders. Dr. Im is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth School of Social Work and has extensive experience in the U.S. and abroad, working with diverse refugee and immigrant groups on issues of mental health and resettlement. She created the TI-CPP and Community Wellness Workshop curricula that The Women’s Initiative and the IRC are using.

The first Bhutanese CWW took place last fall at New Roots Farm, and the all-female Spanish-speakers CWW was completed this past June at the Southwood Community Center and the Farm. Monica Luna, a professional interpreter for the IRC, participated in the TI-CCP training and then went on to co-facilitate the Latina Community Wellness Workshops. Her reflections about the experience highlight the exchange that takes place between everyone involved:

“It certainly was a great opportunity to have participated in this two training sessions- I learned so much not only from the course but also from the participants and professionals who worked to develop this material.  Education is the key to progress, and being able to participate in teaching the CWW at Southwood opened a little window in the lives of the Latina women. They were motivated to teach their families and make changes in their lives.”

This effort has been made possible in part through funding from the NoVo Foundation. The three-year project aims to increase resources for social support and healing to refugees in Charlottesville, and to enhance New Roots’ gardens, farm and markets, as safe and supportive community healing spaces.