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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Bryan

Trauma-Informed in Malawi, Africa: Fruits of Seeds Planted

Meet Aubrey, a young man from the village of Madisi in Malawi, Africa. That's him in the middle of this picture here, sitting in the home of Rise Malawi student Connex, to his right. Aubrey was smiling as he shared what he had just learned about becoming trauma-informed - to ask, "what happened to you," instead of, "what's wrong with you," with Connex's widowed mother... who was nursing her infant, under a roof that would most definitely leak with the next rain...I was rendered speechless by this experience, in awe of the power of knowledge to shift how people think about and respond to one another. Aubrey wanted to share the value of understanding her children's behavior and the importance of her loving care with this resilient mother of 5.

Now Aubrey has shared how this knowledge continues to inform his work. He recently wrote this to me:

"I am happy to say this: We have a camp kid his name is Samuel*, he was tough to handle and very reactive... and this made me, Tinashe and some camp leaders to pay more attention to him. I came to realize that it can be trauma then I started to treat him differently with some care and love, I used to chat with him (about) what's going on with his family. After some time he became interested in me and he was able to share about his life, now he is a changed kid and he gets excited when we go and visit his home. I am planning to visit him this holiday before I go to school... In addition, Samuel now is able to go to church and to answer questions in class but at first, he used to be quiet and rude, he was fighting others and not friendly. Now everyone is happy to see this changed kid. Thanks for teaching me about trauma Becky it's helpful. Enjoy your life. Aubrey

Becoming trauma-informed increases empathy and compassion regardless of where you live! And it doesn't require hours of teaching - it is a paradigm shift more than anything else, openness to understanding that behavior is merely communicating something deeper. I am excited to see how Aubrey and other trauma-informed leaders like him will leave their mark on the world. Here's to feeling hopeful for 2020 and beyond.

*name changed

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