As part of the EGAL project in south central Democratic Republic of Congo, the Healing in Harmony program’s objective is to address psychosocial barriers to education through music therapy. It offers a safe space for vulnerable youth to express themselves.
Through the process, participants like ‘Sarah’ have found the strength to talk about their experiences and join voices with other trauma survivors to speak out for their right to education. This is Sarah’s story.
‘Sarah’ is a 19 year old mother. She is one of the first graduates of the Healing in Harmony program in the village of Kananga. Sarah has suffered from PTSD, anxiety, and depression following a vicious attack on her family and unwanted pregnancy following rape. At first, she found it difficult to share her story with the group, but after some one-on-one counseling and the reassurance of confidentiality, she opened up.
“The story of my life makes me sick and very sad. In 2017, there was war in our province of Kasaï-Central. The militiamen entered our house by force and did many things. First of all, they killed my big sister, then my grandfather who had been paying my school fees as my father was already dead. In the end, they raped me, I ended up with an unwanted pregnancy, and I had a child.
Since that time, I still imagine the atrocities of the militiamen as if it was happening now. I live in total despair, I don’t know why I did not hide. I am ashamed when I see my colleagues who are progressing in school…”
Throughout the Healing in Harmony group therapy sessions, Sarah’s mindset began to shift.
“I realized that I was not responsible for what had happened to me. My thoughts about my life, my environment, and my future changed. I found a sense of relief by sharing my story and also, I feel good with my body, to the point that I continue doing some relaxation exercises at home and feel connected to the child I thought I would never love because the child used to remind me of all that I went through…”
Sarah has told us that she appreciates the program because her nightmares have diminished and she no longer feels ashamed or in despair. Now, her desire is to go back to school and study like everyone else, and she will not care about what people say about her. She is grateful for the EGAL project and the services helping her mental and emotional stability, which has given her back the desire to live.
“If given the chance, I would be happy to go back to school.”
The Healing in Harmony program in Kasai is part of the EGAL (Equality for Girls Access to Learning) project, a partnership with World Vision Canada with funding from Global Affairs Canada.