What happens when someone was born and raised in a conflict zone, or witnessed genocide?

Help fund our research project to
find out rates of PTSD among refugees in San Diego!

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75% of Darfur’s displaced children have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Hi everyone,

What happens when someone was born and raised in a conflict zone, or witnessed acts of genocide?

What happens when the violence was experienced firsthand, possibly even sexual assault?  What happens when part of life took place in a refugee camp?  What happens when a person has survived but lost countless numbers of family and friends?  What happens when “home” will never be home again?

The depth of shock and loss are way beyond what can be expressed in words, but what we know is that the struggle with these things doesn’t go away when a refugee moves to the U.S.

Trauma shatters a person and life as known before will never be the same again.  While some have the inner resiliency to recover without help, for many, that just isn’t the case and the suffering persists.

Arriving in the U.S. brings a host of difficulties unto itself.  Not all are fluent enough in English and have to take classes.  Refugee financial support doesn’t afford much time before a self-supporting job needs to be secured.

For many the U.S. is hard to get used to, and it can be a lonely and confusing place in the beginning.  Most continue to worry about friends and family left behind, sometimes knowing where they are and sometimes not.  There can be added pressure to earn a good living here in order to send money to those still in their mother country.

With all of these adjustments and pressures in the new country, what happens to the traumatic experiences from the past?  Insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and trouble concentrating are some of the indicators that the past is not really the past.  Substance abuse and domestic violence are also ways that trauma makes itself known.  Sometimes anger surfaces more easily and combined with the mistrust of others, conflicts can be much harder to resolve.

The bottom line is that when the traumatic experiences haven’t been resolved, employment, education, relationships, and physical health get affected.  The individual suffers, the family suffers, and the entire community suffers.

While some research has been conducted on refugee populations, it remains grossly inadequate.  We know that 75% of the displaced children from Darfur living in refugee camps met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD.

What is the rate of PTSD in East African refugees living near to us in San Diego? 

We don’t know, but we want to find out.  And after we find out, we will launch a novel approach to trauma recovery for this population and offer it at the community level.

Our partners

We have partnered with National University and the Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego in order to document the rate of PTSD in East African refugees living in San Diego.

Our plan

For up-to-date information about our efforts,
please visit the project page »

We will be using parts of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire translated into Swahili, Arabic and Somali, as well as offering it in English.  A demographic survey will give us additional helpful information.

We want to offer each of the 150 refugees willing to participate a $15.00 Visa or Master Card gift card as an incentive and to say “thanks”.  That means if a husband and wife both participate they will have an extra $30.00 to spend on something their family needs such as extra diapers or school supplies.

That’s where you come in and we really need your help:  click here to contribute.

This research project is our first step toward launching a Trauma Recovery Program for Refugees and Immigrants in the community of San Diego.

Thank you for helping us meet with success in this effort.

With gratitude,

Barbara English
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
(949) 891-2005

[Ubuntu] n.
Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.


2 thoughts on “What happens when someone was born and raised in a conflict zone, or witnessed genocide?

  1. Pingback: What is the rate of PTSD among refugees in San Diego? « Living Ubuntu Blog

  2. Thank you so much for this, but i would like to know when you do it and if i can be part of it. for now i have project am working on from Northern Ugandan about the “nodding disease” but i will make sure to work with you on that.

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