Community-based sociotherapy, a way to rebuild trust in Liberia

ZOA began working in Liberia in 2003, helping people to rebuild their lives following the devastation of a 14-year civil war. Liberia’s recovery from the war, and the Ebola epidemic, has been a slow process, with many setbacks. Liberian communities still experience the impact of the violent war that ended 15 years ago. In response, ZOA developed a programme of peacebuilding activities, focusing mainly on community-based sociotherapy. This methodology has been developed and nurtured with great effort and commitment by Cora Dekker, who passed away early May 2019. Her work has contributed to a more peaceful world and we are thankful that we can continue this work in Liberia and in Congo.

Peacebuilders mitigate social tensions

Community based social therapy reconciles people with one another and provides people with the necessary tools to become peacebuilders within their communities. The project is successful. Lucinda Rouse, a Senegal-based freelance journalist covering West Africa wrote an article about the impact of our work for The New Humanitarian. She writes: ‘’A lack of trust pervades all levels of society: within families, communities and between business associates, not to mention between the government and the people it has been appointed to serve.’’ But Rouse is also optimistic about the impact of the programme: ‘’community-based sociotherapy can offer a way to help soothe social tensions.’’

Thousands of people participate

Due to the project’s success, it is currently implemented on a larger scale in various regions of Liberia. Together with our partner YMCA, we continue to help individuals and communities who were traumatized by the war to rebuild safety and trust. We aim to involve 10,000 people, divided into 840 groups across Liberia in this three-year programme. Only when people find peace in their communities, the war is truly over.

Read the complete article Lucinda Rouse here.