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“A Person Either Is Or Is Not Insane” – In Somalia, There Are No Words For Mental Health Care.



Somali Disability Cluster 5 meeting 2021With the support of FCA, psychotherapist Rowda Olad works in grassroots-level mental health care and participates in the reconciliation work in Somalia.

”In Somalia, people talk of invisible wounds, dhaawac yada qarsoon,” says psychotherapist Rowda Olad and describes how shocked she was to see the state of the entire nation’s mental health when she arrived in Somalia in 2016.

”A young boy was driving the moped taxi, tuktuk, at breakneck speed through central Mogadishu. I asked him to slow down. ’You’re going to get us killed!’ I yelled from the back seat.

’What does it matter if we die,’ the boy replied.” ”I was extremely shocked.” Rowda says she immediately noticed that especially young men were not only fearless but also very angry. But in fact, almost everybody in Somalia seemed to be suffering from psychological traumas caused by the civil war and the violence, or from post-traumatic symptoms resulting from them.

”There is a lot of crime, as well as disregard for other people’s possessions or lives. Whenever there was an explosion in Mogadishu, people rushed to see what had happened, whereas the natural reaction would be to run away.”

”A person who is not afraid is not psychologically healthy,” says Rowda. “Seeing mutilated humans and bodies of victims of explosions is traumatising, especially to children.”

She witnessed and recorded all this during the first year after she and her family moved back to Somalia in 2016. Psychological trauma changes a person’s worldview and behaviour. In Somalia, aggressive behaviour can be seen often in everyday situations.

”Even during high-level political meetings, people may lose their temper at the drop of a hat.” As a refugee in the United States Rowda, who was born in Mogadishu, has her share of war trauma. The civil war began when she was seven years old. Her siblings and other relatives scattered all over the world.

With her uncle’s family, Rowda fled to the state of Ohio in the United States. She went to school and studied, but once she graduated from high school, she could not decide straight away what she wanted to do when she grew up. So, she volunteered to do social work with AmeriCorps.

She helped Muslim immigrants, the Somali diaspora, young and old alike – and saw and experienced lots of things that could only be explained by the people’s backgrounds. She started a volunteer group for young Somali women and became interested in studying to be a psychologist and psychotherapist. She also became fascinated with facets of Somali culture; what causes things? Why do we do this or think like this?…..

Source: Finn Church World

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