Suri Kachipo Bale

Just recently, there was a trauma-healing training in Koy, Gambela region, where 24 women from the Suri Kachipo Bale people gathered. All the trainees were mothers who had given birth to at least two children; three of them were nursing mothers, and nine were pregnant mothers-to-be.
Most of the mothers were in the same age group, and had a similar lifestyle and status. Their social relations seemed to be very close. In their culture, six to seven families are organized in one group and live together for most of their lives. All these groups, again, have strong relationships with each other. They live together, cook and eat together, and even take care of their children and spouses together. This goes as far as a mother breastfeeding another woman’s child. It is not hard to imagine that by resisting these tight social ties and other daily activities, a woman could easily get into trouble.
Our program was teaching Bible-based trauma healing. The main ideas were taken from the book of Ruth which focuses on principles based on the story of Naomi and her family.
The training was given for four full days. In the morning sessions, the Bible stories were told orally, and in the afternoon sessions, the traumatic situations that occurred in Naomi’s life were analyzed and discussed.

It was important for the mothers to understand that people in the Bible (besides Naomi also David, Job etc.) were
experiencing difficult suffering, dealing with loss and many other painful issues. The Bible clearly talks about trauma and that
it needs a healing process in order to overcome them. Very much like in the Suri culture.
One of our training units that was impacting the women in a special way, was „listening practice“. After teaching about this
topic, the facilitator asked them to find a partner, and spend 15 minutes practicing active listening. This way, the trainees
would experience to see the importance and challenges of listening, and also to see the relief that comes from active listening.
When the facilitator called the group back, he asked them to share their feelings. Most of the women were very happy.
Nyangu, one of the participants, was willing to comment in detail.

She said: “When I started sharing my story, I was not sure if I would wish to pour out all my childhood pains.” But when I started talking, little by little, I couldn’t stop. Even some of the events that I had considered top-secret before, really private matters of mine – for some reason I was freely opening up to my sister, who had been assigned to me for this listing practice. I want to say thank you to my partner for being such a good listener, using just a few guiding questions. I think I poured out all my pains in a few minutes because this was the very first day that I got a chance to look at my heart and start processing and, in fact, start healing.
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