Humanitarian Support Asia: The TRE-HSA Collaboration
Since late 2014, TRE for All, Inc. (TFA) has been collaborating with and supporting Humanitarian Support Asia (HSA), a group founded by TRE practitioners who had the goal of sharing the benefits of Trauma Release Exercises for post-disaster situations. At the time, TRE was present in Asia on a limited professional basis, i.e. to coaches, counselors and the general public; however, a there was not a focused program for bringing TRE to traumatized communities in humanitarian emergency setting.
TRE was developed from Dr. David Bercelis experiences in war-torn areas in Africa and the Middle East. The founding members of HSA felt that the program they had in mind could support the original intent of TRE, and help communities who had experienced psychological, emotional and physical trauma as a result of natural disasters or human conflict.
Following the Nepal earthquake of April 2015, HSA reached to TFA, and the two groups worked together to organize and bring relief to that country. TFA quickly launched a Facebook page and Indiegogo campaign. HSA began planning a trip to Nepal and getting in touch with contacts there. The results thus far have been extremely positive, and every step helps build the foundation for extending these efforts to other countries and regions.
HSA: How It Started
In 2013, Joan McDonald and Sae Kani met in Chiang Mai. At the time, Sae was a TRE trainee with a strong background in Disaster Management works. In the course of their conversations, they found that they shared the vision of bringing TRE to aid workers and disaster-affected populations.
Because of a decade of her work with humanitarian crisis, Sae was very clear about the fact humanitarian workers are highly affected by vicarious trauma. She and Joan talked about how the ongoing work of providing assistance to others can affect the workers in terms of decision making ability and emotional stability and mental health.
For Joan, inspiration had come after working in Japan with tsunami survivors, when Joan went to Japan with David Berceli and a medical doctor from China, for around 10 days (Initiated by Joe and Nana Bright in Japan). These days were powerful; Joan saw the actual immediate impact of TRE on people and was inspired to focus on the domain of disaster-affected communities.
The Founding of HSA
What began as a “What-if” conversation in Chiang Mai slowly became a plan to form an organization that could bring TRE to traumatized populations in Asia. Sae took Level II TRE training and became certified.
Sae, Joan and another member of TRE Thailand had frequent Skype meetings to address a structure that could respond to disasters in the moment, help to create sustainability and greater health within humanitarian organizations and their beneficiaries, and gather data that could be applied towards furthering the research-oriented aspect of TRE. With these objectives in mind, Humanitarian Support Asia was formed.
Ultimately, the goal for HSA would be to start working the leadership of the management and staff of humanitarian agencies, then have them become engaged in and become providers of TRE, integrating TRE into their psycho-social programs for the people they serve as well as for themselves.
Taking Action: Indiegogo and the Nepal Mission
In the midst of the planning and discussion, the Nepal earthquake occurred, spurring HSA to take whatever action was possible in these early days of its existence. An Indiegogo campaign was created, and thanks to generous contributions from around the world, raised over $7400. A Facebook page was created; Sae planned an initial trip to Nepal; a brochure was created for distribution; and a website(www.tre-hsa.org) was launched.
The Nepal Mission as of 2015
As of 10 November 2015, over 500 people have experienced some degree of relief, thanks to the workshops taking place in Nepal. Our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/tremissionnepal, is up and running, with frequent updates and links to the blog on our website. Data is being collected at a very elementary level, with general questions being asked about how participants have felt before and after the exercises, and where they are feeling changes.
The initial introduction to the Tsoknyi Gechak School in Nepal is organically taking the team of Sae and Gurutama (a volunteer TRE provider from Switzerland) beyond the school, to very remote villages in Himalayas (Tsum valley), and wherever the need arises. TRE will continue to be shared in Nepal with strong hope from local beneficiaries. We are planning to run fund raising campaign periodically to support on-going program of HAS. Besides leading TRE sessions, we are looking for the right people and circumstances to develop a model Community Facilitator program, wherein local people can continue to bring TRE to families, friends and communities and assure the momentum continues on a more self-sustaining manner in Nepal.
For the short term, in addition to exposing as many people as possible to TRE, we plan to expand our network of contacts, not only in Nepal but elsewhere in Asia. We intend to establish solid connections with local and international NGOs and lay the groundwork for an eventual dialogue to introduce TRE on a larger scale to well-established humanitarian agencies. A significant marker that our efforts have been successful will be the development and implementation of a self-sustaining model, with clear guidelines and documentation that would allow others to create similar programs in their own areas of focus.
HSA hopes that the information collected will prove useful for TRE for All on many levels. We are happy to share our process with any other group that might wish to deploy this same approach to one of the many places in the world where the need exists. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Facebook.