GRATITUDE FOR GOOD
A Blog by Gratitude Alliance
By Amy Paulson
There is a small pond in Matatirtha, a rural village resting high above Kathmandu valley, whose name in Nepali means Mother Earth. On Mother’s Day, orphans come to the pond to look at their reflections in the mirror of the water and see the face of their mothers.
It is this serene and spiritual place of Mother Earth that we journeyed to earlier this January to empower healing, dignity, joy, and transformation for the students and teachers at Bright Horizon Children’s Home (BHCH), a school and safe haven for nearly 300 orphans and vulnerable children from the poorest, most remote areas of Nepal.
Each morning, 25 teachers, caregivers, and staff arrived to a freezing classroom, greeted warmly with smiles and hugs by our co-founder and creator of the Safe Embrace Trauma Healing (SETH) program, Elayne Kalila Doughty, MA, MFT. Originally developed as a grassroots healing model for caregivers who work with female survivors of sexual and gender based violence, the SETH curriculum has since been adapted to work with anyone whose trauma originates from the challenges faced by communities in fragile settings: conflict, abuse, human trafficking, disease, abandonment, extreme poverty, and more.
Co-facilitating the training was Charna Cassell, MA, MFT. Last December, Charna joined our SETH L2 global activism program where therapists, social workers, and other healing professionals learn the SETH curriculum and how to teach it in a global setting, fundraise among their communities as healing activists, and volunteer their skills at projects around the world.
After one week of training, a second week of observation and coaching, and the launching of a leadership and life skills course for early high school students taught by the teachers most interested in facilitating healing trainings with other organizations and communities in Nepal, we achieved the following outcomes:
· Teachers learned about trauma and its effects on the body and mind
· Teachers gained basic counseling skills for working one-on-one with students suffering from depression, anxiety, or other symptoms of PTSD
· Teachers gained skills to help them regulate the energy of students in the classroom
· Teachers were empowered to heal their own traumas
· Teachers deepened their connections to each other, building camaraderie, trust, and empathy
And, we didn’t stop there. With us on this journey were two other amazing volunteers. Bam Vox wrote and performed, together with a backup chorus of 20 smiling current and former students, a new Bright Horizon theme song for the upcoming sports day celebration and 15th anniversary while bringing both healing and joy through music to the community at BHCH.
And, Chiara Cerri joined us from Italy to teach a photography as healing workshop to the students – giving them skills to tell their unique stories through the lens of a camera.
We are so grateful to our generous donors, to the eBay Foundation, and to the BHCH community for this opportunity to spread grassroots healing to Matatirtha and beyond…
for the profound experiences of heart-opening love and joy, the tearful sharing of personal stories of tragedy and triumph, the loving embraces so generously and unabashedly given and received, statue demonstrations of trauma victim, survivor, and empowered person, the spontaneous healing sessions of dancing, singing, and laughing, and the moments of shared humanity that gave us hope, inspiration, and the promise of a bright future where these incredible students are empowered to heal themselves and their communities.
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We invite you to watch our short video about the SETH training at BHCH and check out some of the teachers’ testimonials.
Other blog posts about this project: