Curbing Social Climate Change with a cup of tea

curbing-social-climate-change-with-a-cup-of-teaEntie metzawzje?’ The dreaded question – Are you married?

‘Yes,’ I lie, ‘but I don’t have children.’

Naima frowns: ‘Leesh?’ Why?

 

That’s always hard to explain. I want to create something positive, and I love children. I simply never felt the desire to have my own.

I’m sitting on a family porch in Amman, Jordan. I’ve just had dinner but Naima and her family bring out bowls of olives, nuts, and dates. They ask about my life and work. Unfortunately my Arabic is not good enough to answer in depth. I promise to be better prepared next time.

It was a special encounter with this family. I saw care and curiosity. I felt welcome, even though our background and life choices are so different.

Social climate change

Brexit, the US elections, and the daily news all point to more division in our society. We see an enormous human toll in Syria. At the same time, we talk about refugees as ‘illegal border crossers’ and terrorists who need be kept out. There are real dangers that make it impossible to dismiss the latter point entirely, but I struggle with our intolerance towards people who are different from us.

We develop our own truths, depending on our environments, friends, and whether we read the New York Times or the conservative National Review. We seem to live in different universes, while actually, there are still so many things that we share. Continue reading

Impressions from 2 refugee camps in Jordan: Zaatari and Azraq

What is a refugee camp like? How are children living and learning there? And is there anything that I can do to support? These questions are still floating through my mind – it would be arrogant and naïve to expect easy answers – but I have at least some frame of reference now. I’ve just returned from Jordan, where I visited two camps. Continue reading

Trauma research must be Open Access

Open_Access_logo_PLoS_transparentWe recently examined how global and how open the literature on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is.

Not very global, and not very open.

Only 13% of the publications of 2012 regarded samples in low- or middle-income countries and 58% were behind a paywall.

Today I want to talk about the latter, the paywall part.

It worries me that practicing psychologists can’t access the latest research on therapy effectiveness. Or on how to deal with drop-out from clinical interventions. Or on how children experience trauma recovery.

As you may know, the migration crisis and refugees are on my mind a lot these days. I can’t justify, in any way, why a large part of the relevant knowledge is unavailable to support those who are affected.

Not only practitioners have little access to the latest evidence. The same applies to many scholars in low-resource settings, policy makers, and citizens in general.

Much research is behind a paywall, even though it was funded with public money. This system is lucrative for the publishers of certain ‘traditional journals’, which charge extra-ordinary amounts of subscription money to university libraries.

Getting radical

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A tornado in my head

“They didn’t even have nappies at the maternity ward,” she tells me
“I had to get my sister out of there: that hospital was a health risk.”

With our feet on the edge of a South-African fireplace, we are having a glass of wine. She is a beautiful woman from Lesotho who has made an impressive journey in life, now finishing her PhD while being an accomplished facilitator.

Twenty minutes ago, she asked me what I exactly try to find out with my research. So I told her about our projects on how parents support their children after a serious injury. About our research on care for children who lost a parent due to fatal domestic violence. And about our recent survey on emergency staff’s education needs regarding child traumatic stress.

She listened with interest, and then she started talking. About her experiences with hospitals in South Africa. Continue reading

Refugees in Europe: A crisis?

Fresh Eyes on the Refugee Crisis - image by Tom Turley

Over 1 million people arrived in Europe by sea in 2015. And since the conflict in Syria continues, this influx will not halt.

It is the biggest refugee crisis since World War II according to the UNHCR. The journey by sea is dangerous, the circumstances in refugee camps and asylum seeker centers are far from ideal – to say the least – and tensions between host countries make it difficult to find constructive solutions.

With such big numbers and their political, social and logistical complexities, it’s easy to feel powerless as an individual.

Still, there are opportunities. As Margaret Mead has famously been quoted:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Continue reading