On September 7, 2017, Hurricane Irma roared into the Caribbean. Winds over 170 miles per hour with gusts over 200 miles per hour tore through Tortola, British Virgin Islands denud- ing trees, ripping roofs from houses, tossing boats onto land and scouring the seabed. Among those who rode out the storm in their house, huddled on the oor of the bathroom as the winds and rain wreaked havoc all around them, were Lilian Jarales-Hewlett and Gath Hewlett. Gath grew up in Tortola and Lilian, from the Philippines, worked there. Their home was a total loss. They were evacuated to the Philippines. There they discovered Capacitar.
After completing the Multicultural Wellness training in the Philippines in 2018, Lilian and Gath asked trainer Joan Condon if she would come to Tortola to do an introductory training for survivors of the hurricane. The training in Capacitar basic practices with an emphasis on stress and trauma was held in February for nine hur- ricane survivors and organized by Gath, Lilian and Gail Sperry, who also lost her home in the hurricane. Participants found what they learned helpful and began to use the practices immediately. The last day a small team formed committed to share what they had learned with others. Gath and Lilian are committed to returning twice a year to Tortola to share Capacitar and other wellness practices to help those still struggling to rebuild—not just their homes but their lives.
Capacitar in Germany
Capacitar recently inaugurated its first training in Aachen with 38 men and women coming from different areas of Germany, Luxembourg and other parts of Europe.
The training is being sponsored by Missio and the Diocese of Aachen under the leadership of Anke Reermann, who coordinates pastoral and school educational programs. Many of the participants work with refugees and immigrants in their communities. Currently over one million refugees and immigrants live in Germany (with a population of 68 million) and 25,000 in Luxembourg (with a population of 590,000).
The training, facilitated by Capacitar Founder Pat Cane, brought together a great diversity of backgrounds and cultures. Participants included: university students and a professor of social work; program personnel from Missio, Caritas, Aachen Diocese, and Miserior who offer outreach to refugees as well as support projects in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America; local volunteers working with refugees through their churches; teachers working with children and youth who have learning and emotional disabilities; and psychologists and therapists. An international team of the Luxembourg nonprofit KORU represented 4 countries—Iraq, Mexico, Romania and the UK. Other participants were from Argentina and Brazil. Many valuable exchanges took place among participants as they shared their experiences and reflections. Capacitar materials are currently being translated into German and other languages to make these accessible to refugees. In 2019, the Capacitar 4-module training will also be offered in East Germany (Leipzig) coordinated by 4 dioceses in the region.
Capacitar celebrated its 10thAnniversary in Scotland at The Bield, a retreat center in Blackruthven, Perth. One hundred women and men came from all parts of Scotland and the UK to share in the Capacitar Tai Chi, rituals, meditation and practices. Many participants told of their experiences in using Capacitar with children, refugees, the traumatized, the elderly, midwives, pregnant women, university students, prisoners, the homeless, persons with mental and physical disability, recovery centers, rape crisis and gender violence centers, detention centers, with refugees in Lesbos and other international outreach. To date six 4-module trainings have been offered in Edinburgh, Perth and Glasgow, with a seventh training scheduled for 2019-2020 in Perth and Glasgow. Advanced trainings are held regularly at The Bield as part of their program. Thousands of people have participated in outreach workshops led in a variety of organizations and communities by those in training. Short videos of the different practices have also been produced by Capacitar Scotland and are available on the Capacitar International YouTube Channel. For more information on trainings and programs contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellness Workshops, Afghanistan
Pat Cane and George Horan, the Capacitar Afghanistan team, are currently collaborating with the Afghan Peace Volunteers (APV) in Kabul. Pat and George are facilitating wellness workshops for high school and university youth, for street children attending the APV school, and for the APV women’s sewing cooperative. Along with the workshops, Pat and George also offer individual counseling sessions for many of the youth.
Besides the stress of preparing for school exams to qualify for universities (Concord and TOEFL exams), the youth also deal with poverty, family challenges and the threat of ongoing violence in Kabul. Some of the youth in the Capacitar workshops have witnessed suicide bombings and attacks. A bomb went off last year in front of the family shop of one young man. Several students were at the American University last August when a car bomb exploded and militants overran the campus. Many students were injured and 13 persons died in this attack.
At one Capacitar workshop some of the students described how they were unable to focus and concentrate on their studies. Others shared how they felt hopeless after losing their friends in the university attack and experienced the destruction of all that gave them life and hope. The Capacitar trauma healing practices are of great value to help the young men and women manage their stress and heal traumatic memories. Capacitar is committed to continue walking in solidarity with APV and the people of Afghanistan.
In 2005, we responded to Hurricane Katrina by putting together this kit of simple basic practices for immediate use to help people deal with challenging situations, such as natural disasters, violence or chronic stress. Since then it has been translated into more than 20 languages and used in countries after tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and areas of ongoing conflict.