Need for Psychologist for Family Empowerment Program
Economic deprivation has far reaching ramifications and manifestations on different levels and forms, with these effects manifesting very boldly in developing countries like Ethiopia. One of the areas is psycho-social issues. While many children from economically disadvantaged families face abuses, neglect and other traumatizing experiences, the guardians (parents) suffer from other psycho-social issues like lack of social skills and confidence.
The 50 families under Addis Jemari’s Family Empowerment Program face the same challenges and issues in their day-to-day life. Accordingly, giving psycho-social support and providing guidance and counseling to our beneficiary families and children is an essential component in the goal we are trying to achieve. Simply put, social and economic wellbeing cannot be reached without psychological wellbeing.
As observed and identified in discussions with FEP staff, our beneficiary children need much work and improvement on their behavior. Some of the observed and identified issues on some of the children includes: bullying, disrespecting one another, not listening to their parents and the general lack of social skill. Due to the high demand for this service, the available AJ staff has been working on providing guidance and counseling services to selected beneficiary children since the FEP Center opened. But, we have not been able to touch even the surface when we compare the demand with what we were able to provide so far.
Some of the advantages of having a psychologist are:
- Having a professional psychologist would provide us with professional service making it easy to identify, address and follow-up specific cases;
- Having one staff focusing solely on helping our families’ psycho-socially and providing guidance and counseling would allow for a more consistent service and systematic approaches;
- Allow for the other FEP staff to focus on other tasks.
A good example of how a psychologist is essential is the story of Kibrom, one of the children in our Family Empowerment Program. During a medical assessment from one of our mission teams, it was identified that Kibrom had an infection on his right foot , and it was identified he also had a physical deformation on his left hand and leg, caused by a childhood accident when he was only 18 months old. After identifying the issue, our FEP staff worked with Kirbrom to get him the medicine he needed, educate him that if he did not get the infection in his toes properly healed, he could lose his toes through amputation. Guidance and counseling were given to Kibrom, and he agreed to follow his medication properly and to not play soccer until his feet healed completely. In addition to the psychological help, the availability of this service in our program most likely saved his toes from being amputated.
Kibrom already suffers from a physical impediment that occurred due to his childhood accident. This affects his psyche and his relationships with his family and friends. The infection on his foot brought up feelings surrounding his childhood accident. His situation would have been worse if not for the help he received from our staff currently. As a result of the counseling, we opened a line of communication to discuss issues whenever he requires guidance and support, discussed how the accident actually happened and where he holds blames for it, we identified hostility and anger about the childhood accident, and agreed on the importance of discussing matters with his family members and how important that is to cope with his day-to day-life. Coping strategies were discussed as well as how he could use them when he feels like he is being verbally attacked by his peers surrounding his physical impediment.
Another example would be one of the mothers in our Family Empowerment Program, Gelila. On top of the socio-economic issues this family faces, Gelila also suffers from psychological problems that are affecting her and her children tremendously. She suffers from depression caused by stress and restlessness. Living in dire poverty is a huge part of the stress she feels. It is something she has experienced for the past 15 years. It would be near impossible to achieve our goal of breaking generational poverty while the household head is suffering from psychological issues such as this. Yet, we were not able to provide the psychiatric help she needs due to lack of resources like a psychologist on staff.
By: Semere Fekadu
If you’d like to help us be able to provide the level of guidance counseling and support our Family Empowerment Program families deserve, please go to www.addisjemari.org/donate and select “Giving Tuesday- Psychologist- 2o hours/week” in the drop down box.
Anything you give today will be matched by a generous donor!