Phase 4: Continuing in the Community (Trauma Recovery for East African Refugees in San Diego)

After years and years of working in this and grappling with this, the conclusion that many of us are coming to is that in order to help these animal, frozen, inappropriate, fight/flight/freeze responses to come to an end, you need to work with people’s bodily responses. You need to help their body to feel like it’s over.
– Bessel van der Kolk, MD

Phase 4: Continuing in the Community

Trauma Recovery for East African Refugees in San Diego

Will you help us launch Phase 4?

Online fundraising for Phase 4: Continuing in the Community (Trauma Recovery for East African Refugees in San Diego)


There are over 20,000 refugees from East African countries (e.g. Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda) currently living in San Diego.

If their homeland had been a safe place to live, they wouldn’t have become refugees.

Living Ubuntu, in collaboration with faculty from National University and local refugee organizations:

  • In December 2012 (Phase 1), completed a survey to assess the rate of Post-Traumatic Stress among refugees from East Africa living in San Diego.

The results confirmed high levels of unresolved trauma:

83% had endured traumatic experiences (e.g. forced evacuation, lack of food, water, access to medical care, violence, kidnapping)

♦85% were suffering from symptoms of trauma, ranging from mild to severe.

Why is it difficult for refugees to get help for trauma & PTSD?

  • In September 2013 (Phase 2), educated refugee leaders about trauma, PTSD and recovery by conducting a 6-week series that offered instruction in Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) and psycho-educational material. What is TRE?

Why does trauma recovery for refugees require a somatic approach?

  • In September 2014 (Phase 3), launched a pilot research project that included participants in Treatment and Control groups (gender-specific). TRE and psycho-educational material was taught in the weekly 2-hour Treatment group for 8 weeks and once-a-month for 3 months. All Treatment groups will reach completion by the end of August 2015.

What’s next?

Phase 4: Continuing in the Community

Our plan

Services for refugees remain extremely limited. Living Ubuntu seeks to offer an ongoing community-based Trauma Recovery Program for Refugees.

Our long-term goal is to train refugee leaders as trauma recovery facilitators. This will enable increased access to culturally sensitive opportunities taught in refugees’ mother tongue.

As part of Phase 4, several leaders from San Diego’s East African community have received scholarships from Living Ubuntu in order to pursue Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises (TRE) Certification. Their training began in May 2015 and is expected to take about a year to complete. While we are very excited about supporting the professional training for these individuals, we need to make sure that those who learned TRE during the research are able to continue their healing process until members of the local community are fully trained and certified to lead TRE.

We will be offering once a month community groups for both men and women to continue their TRE process, led by Certified TRE Providers and assisted by members of the local community that supported them through the research process. These groups will be open to all of the research participants and any of their friends or family that they bring to learn the exercises. We hope to support those already in the process of trauma recovery, and increase outreach by allowing new members to participate.

Benefits of this approach

  • Each refugee will gain a deeper understanding of stress, trauma, PTSD, and the recovery process.
  • They will be more able to recognize symptoms and side effects of unresolved trauma and PTSD (e.g. nightmares, depression, anxiety, intrusive memories, substance abuse, domestic violence).
  • They will continue to learn more over time about TRE, a method they can continue to practice unassisted on their own in addition to group sessions, to continue the healing process.
  • Beyond individual healing, this approach promotes community healing.
  • The local community will be able to support its own continued recovery in a variety of languages by having Certified TRE Providers within the East African refugee community.

How can you help?

We need to raise $14850 to the cover the costs of Continuing in the Community through the end of 2015. DONATE HERE.

Your one-time contribution of:

$30 will pay for TRE materials for 3 refugees.
$75 will provide yoga mats for 5 refugees.
$550 will fund one session for 40 refugees.

Or, consider becoming a sustaining monthly supporter:

$15 a month will support 1 refugee every month
$45 a month will support 3 refugees every month

Will you help us with this?

Online fundraising for Phase 4: Continuing in the Community (Trauma Recovery for East African Refugees in San Diego)

100% of your tax-deductible donation goes toward covering the costs of this project.

The budget

Phase 4 project costs: $6750.00
Retention of refugee participants (ongoing outreach from refugee leaders) $4500.00
Venue fees (refugee community centers): $1800.00
Supplies (TRE booklets, yoga mats, etc): $1800.00
Total = $14,850

Our team

Living Ubuntu is a 501c3 non-profit organization with a focus on mind-body issues, specifically health and well-being, and the effects of stress, trauma and compassion fatigue. We seek to increase awareness of the global and local impact of these issues, build a sense of community, and encourage living a more fully embodied life. For more information, please visit

Faculty of National University, the second-largest, private, non-profit institution of higher learning in California,

Horn of Africa is a 501c3 non-profit community-based organization in San Diego that advocates for the diverse needs and opportunities of African refugees and immigrants, (particularly Somalis) in San Diego,

Southern Sudanese Community Center of San Diego is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to assist all Sudanese refugees in their resettlement through education, social, economic, and cultural support,

United Women’s East African Support Team is a 501c3 non-profit with the goal of responding to the overlooked health needs of East African women and their families that affect their well-being,

* * *

Thank you in advance for your support.

Phase 4 will bring us one step closer toward the end goal of establishing a community-based, sustainable Trauma Recovery Program for Refugees in San Diego.  Thank you for helping us meet with success in this effort.

With gratitude,

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

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

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