I took the photo on the right when I was in Rwanda. It was during the time of year (April) when the entire country commemorates the 1994 Genocide Against Tutsis. It was a powerful experience to walk with people who had directly experienced the genocide. Many of the people I was there to work with were among those survivors.
Now we are sadly seeing another genocide taking place in Ukraine. Here at TGW we are organizing to take a team to Poland or to the southern border in the U.S. where Ukrainians are waiting to cross into the U.S. We look forward to teaching from our neuroscience based SRM Skills Card in the refugee camps.
Neuroscience and the corresponding brain imaging advances have demonstrated the impact of stress on the human brain and body. Studies of the impact of stress chemicals on the body have shown that inflammatory processes build up and are associated with effects including cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune disorders, and others. In addition, the impact of traumatic events on psychological functioning is also well-documented. These effects include but are not limited to extremes of reactivity or lethargy (hyper and hypo-arousal), impaired cognitive functioning, and memory distortion. In Ukraine we are hearing of the impact of trauma on pregnant women and those who have given birth in the midst of bombing. Traumatic stress can produce a broad range of symptoms and consequences.
The Social Resilience Model Skills Card is a form of “Appropriate Technology.” The term means a technology “that ordinary people can use that doesn’t make them dependent on systems they have no control over.” The card, designed to be a self-care tool as well as to be used in the care of others, is a 2-sided, eight box teaching tool that both children and adults can use. It is well-suited to people living in Internally Displaced Persons Camps (IDP).
I developed the first Skills Card ( the box on the left shows the Skill of Tracking) during work in Haiti after the earthquake in 2012 when many of our trainees had low literacy levels. I hand drew all the images. I’m clearly not an artist! We’ve come a long way since then! Yoorina Seo draws all the images for the cards now and they are wonderful! See below.
I have adapted SRM Skills Cards for all the countries we work in. They are tailored for each country by type of clothing, hairstyles, symbols, etc. and are translated into the dominant language of each country. Our Ukraine SRM Skills Card is being translated into both Ukrainian and Russian. Below is one of the boxes that shows the skill of Shift and Stay.
The card makes teaching SRM very efficient since electricity isn’t required, the cards are sturdy and repel rain and dust, and we can make hundreds of copies to give out to people who come to our Skills Card Trainings. We envision training cadres of Ukrainian trainers in the IDP camps to teach the card to others so that when we leave they can continue the work of helping people self-regulate, decrease stress chemicals, and provide a sense of purpose.
It is heartbreaking to see the images of death and destruction. It is important to remember that we humans have a natural capacity for resilience. At TGW our mission is to assist people in harnessing their resilience, even in the face of on-going war.