This term, I have continued to provide psychological services at the Danja Fistula Center (DFC) and Center for Leprosy and Health (CSL) in addition to providing services for children at a local school. At the DFC, the women seeking treatment for fistula are assessed to determine if they are experiencing psychiatric and/or distress as a result of their condition. Due to the stigmatizing effects of fistula, and the strain placed on the family as a result, around half of the population reports disturbance of emotional and/or social function.
While all of the women at the facility are encouraged to engage in group psychotherapy centered on trauma healing (based on the American Bible Society course), several women also require individual psychotherapy due to anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other emotional distress. I also supplement the health education of the women with following discharge, prevention of fistula, and with culturally sensitive videos encouraging hand washing and balanced nutrition. An additional measure of social distress demonstrating validity with fistula patients in another setting in Africa has also been translated to Hausa for use among the women in Niger. In both Centers, emphasis on the Lord as healer is also discussed, as many patients often seek traditional medicine and elemental spiritual forces for healing (e.g., ranging from majority religious teachings to occultism).
At the Cornerstone Christian School, I work with children in at-risk situations to help improve their outcomes. This has typically involved a combination of individual and when appropriate, classroom intervention. I am also able to assist with a new reading program for two grade levels (1st and 2nd) that allows children to view and listen to Bible stories in French, which simultaneously teaches the gospel and promotes their language/reading skills. In addition, I assist with preparing resources selected by the director and teachers at the school for several grade levels.
Though this number fluctuates, a reliable estimate is that Individual psychotherapy and assessment is given at the clinic to an estimated 9-12 people, with group therapy services (twice per week) to an average of 30.
The ministry at MedSend is a profound blessing. During periods of service, I am able to focus on raising funds for essentials and ministry purposes without the added burden of covering student debt. It has allowed me to focus more fully on the Lord's ministry for me and advances my entry into the field in a more timely manner.