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The vision for Healing the Wounds of History was that of Alexandra Asseily, a pshycotherapist. In 2011 the Centre for Lebanese Studies hosted, with the support of the Guerrand-Hermes Foundation for Peace and Lebanese American University, an international conference on 'Healing the Wounds of History': Addressing the Roots of Violence' in Byblos, Lebanon. This conference brought together many like-minded people who recognize the importance of healing trauma in order to develop true harmony between individuals and communities.
Healing the Wounds of History (HWH) programmes are essentially different experiential journeys through which people become more aware that unresolved past wounds can continue to drive us to violence. These are often well-established but innovative approaches to healing, including the use of drama, storytelling, constellation work, deep spiritual reflection, expressive arts and so forth.
The HWH programmes have been developed to help heal the deeper roots of violence. The causes of violence are often located in recent but also older and even ancient historical grievances, memories and traumas. These psychological roots, when drawing on perceived injustices, can become sources of violence, especially in acute times of crisis, fear and threat. These driving forces usually remain un-examined. By unfolding and deconstructing them, individuals can begin to understand where many prejudices and impulses for violence against the other are held and thereby take the opportunity to release them through forgiveness and compassion.
The HWH training in extensive sessions is concerned with unearthing these deeply rooted identities so that we can begin to reframe/rethink the “self”, reconcile with it and humanise the other and improve relationships. To develop capacities at the individual level, helps collective action and peace‐building efforts at the group level. This important work then actively supports political, social, economic, and civil endeavours.
HWH features three core activity projects:
HWH Training Experiential journeys to develop awareness that without healing, compassion and forgiveness, unresolved past wounds can continue to drive us to violence. Sessions are organized several times a year, some in cooperation with the prestigious Lebanese American University.
Teacher Education A focused training to enhance teachers’ capacities to connect and respond sensitively to refugee children’s psychosocial and holistic learning needs and deal with their trauma
Garden of Forgiveness. A sanctuary set in heart of central Beirut, amidst archaeological sites, churches, mosques and a shrine to Virgin Mary, expressing forgiveness and unity.
Last updated: December 2019
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How you can participate
Healing the Wounds of History Teacher Training
Advanced Psychosocial Teacher Training Program in Lebanon
HWH aims to support the psychosocial well-being of the teachers in whose care these children are placed. In attending to the emotional education and personal development of the teachers, we will provide essential support for their capacity to meet the children where they are emotionally. It is reasonable to assume some of the children, if not all, will still be carrying the trauma and stress of their ruptured lives. HWH develops the teacher’s ability to be present, compassionate and strong in themselves. This is advantageous in terms of the children’s primary need for stability & safety in their relationships with adults – an essential prerequisite for learning.
What is the benefit or problem we are solving?
Teaching in general can be a stressful experience. This is exacerbated by the children’s traumatic experience of displacement and war and their subsequent behavioural issues/trauma responses (fight, flight, freeze, fawn). Equally, teachers are vulnerable to the impact of the region’s current and potential threats. Traumatized teachers need an opportunity to build their resilience and their understanding of the difference between authoritarian attitudes and cohesive learning ability.
How is HWH’s approach more effective than ‘normal’ teaching approaches?
HWH offers a holistic (whole person = emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual) approach to personal development. It is a systemic approach that sees the attendant not just as an individual, but as part of familial, communal, tribal, national, cultural, ancestral systems – all of which are referenced in the training to enable the participant to find a peaceful and respectful relationship with all those elements within him or herself. It is an experiential educational process. Less concerned with technique and more with deeply establishing within the trainee a sense of their worth, responsibility and ability to impact the world for the better. HWH works on emotional intelligence and builds new resilience both spiritually and emotionally – enabling an ability to witness their own experience and that of others with love, understanding and respect. Lastly, the HWH approach builds strong, self nurturing communities that, at local and ultimately regional levels, bonds diverse groups of people regardless of tribal or sectarian loyalties. It enables random, unmatched groups to consolidate and act in a unified way.
Varying psychosocial trainings for teachers (in Lebanon) are focused on giving teachers ‘techniques’ and ‘teaching strategies’ to work with the children. These trainings are often not targeting the wellbeing of teachers and building their emotional resilience. HWH uses an experiential educational approach that aims to support teachers and educationalists in the important tasks they carry. Nurturing emotional intelligence and well-being is key to developing teachers’ skills to become mindful, self-aware, and foster children’s healthy development in a safe and caring environment.
Healing the Wounds of History Training
To create a community of change agents, field workers and practitioners, who, after appropriate training, are empowered to take and apply the approaches and the powerful content of HWH training into their respective practices within communities in Lebanon. This group will develop themselves individually first and then collectively through experiential learning. This will be done through a mixture of formal training, self facilitated practice sessions and application in the field. To enable this to happen, participants from last year’s programme will receive an additional facilitation training by assisting in the teaching of the following year. This principle can be extended over time, so that the community grows in number, competency and compassion.
The intention is to offer training to teachers, trainers and NGO workers. It is an opportunity to learn change processes by having a direct, personal experience. Beyond this it is hoped that the tools taught will be disseminated as widely as possible in the spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. The material taught will be experiential and replicable. We shall share and teach tools from a wide range of wisdom traditions: including the world of personal development, the human potential movement and other sources. These tools help to take their users through an effective change process: from awareness to expression to forgiveness and finally to new behaviour.
The training package will also include written material designed to support the application of the tools and processes taught in the various contexts that attendants work in. As part of the training, participants will receive written step by step guidelines on how to apply the various tools.