UNICEF grant supports a collaborative effort to improve counseling, support services in rural Guyana and address violence against women, children
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Through legislation, task forces, and challenging societal factors, there is increased effort to stem the tide. In Guyana, violence against women and children continues to be a threat to human rights, and an issue targeted for change by the Guyana government, human rights groups and the United Nations.
“Violence against women and children is endemic in Guyana, and many developing nations; it’s a cyclical problem that perpetuates itself through its devastating impact on children,” said Catherine Koverola, Dean of Lesley’s Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences. “Our program will work to enhance the skills of those who are in direct contact with families, schools and services agencies in order to help children and families emerge from trauma and victimization empowered to build safe violence free communities.”
Funded through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the program was designed collaboratively by Lesley and the Ministry of Education in Guyana. Thirteen students in the first cohort have begun with a residency at Lesley’s Cambridge campus this summer and will continue with online study as well as additional residencies in both Georgetown and Cambridge. UNICEF funds through the Ministry of Education will support all the students’ study, including tuition and accommodations during residencies.
UNICEF has been focused on protecting families from domestic violence in Guyana for some time, and this past November held a public forum in Guyana that resulted in all four political parties pledging their unequivocal support for children, ensuring that their rights are prioritized in policy making.
Students will explore trauma sensitive assessment and counseling skills; applying expressive therapies and mindfulness principles when working with children and families; and working with classroom teachers in creating safer environments for children impacted by family trauma. During the Lesley campus residencies, students will visit with local non-profits and agencies to learn from North American approaches to working with families in trauma.
The program was first proposed by Lesley faculty members Gene Diaz and Mitchell Kossak after a visit to Guyana in 2010 sponsored by Margaret Clemons of the Margaret Clemons Foundation (MCF). This is the second partnership developed at Lesley with the country of Guyana.
Undergraduates at Lesley College and AIB participate in the Guyana Lesley Abroad Service Semester (GLASS), where students support a local initiative to increase literacy and numeracy among the Macushi people of Yupukari village and satellite villages.
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