War in Iraq creates new trauma responses

By September 8, 2009

Iraq (MNN) — Over the past six
years, Iraqi children have been suffering severely from relentless
bloodshed. Those who are fortunate to survive the
violence are found to be suffering from serious stress.

Experts say the negative effect
of violence on Iraqi children is pervasive and will severely damage their
growth. There are concerns too that these
children grow up either deeply scarred or habituated to violence, which carries
the potential of altering their adult lives and worldview.

That's why Open Doors launched a
new ministry for traumatized children of war. Jerry Dykstra says they felt they had to respond. "If the people
are so distressed, they will not be able to function in post-war society."

However,
many who work with these children didn't know how to address the trauma. Add to
that the stigma of psychological help, and teachers, church workers  and
others who interact with traumatized children felt like they were fighting a
losing battle for the future of Iraq.

They needed
training, which is where Open Doors came to their aid. Dykstra says, "Some of the courses that
are being taught are child and teenage development, emotional development and
the need for children to express and manage emotions and feelings,
understanding child trauma, art as therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder and
forgiveness and what the Bible teaches about forgiveness."

One
participant, named Dema said that after going through the training, "I feel
more equipped on how to help children to verbalize problems, how to listen
effectively and show love."

It's an investment in the future body of
Christ in Iraq. Dykstra says, "It's so vital to get people back on
their feet to have a positive outlook in the midst of a land that is again
experiencing a high level of violence."

Open Doors USA President/CEO Carl
Moeller adds, "Many of these children and youth have known nothing but chaos
and violence; some since birth. Some have watched as loved ones have been
killed or wounded. Trauma counseling is so important along with spiritual and
physical help. Open Doors works to address all areas of their lives."

Open Doors, which is also engaged
in the distribution of Bibles and literature, audio recordings, broadcasting
and training is also inviting Christians to partner with them to strengthen the
ministry.

 

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