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Trauma Team Travels to the Nation of Kenya

By Brett Wilson | August 23, 2013

Kenyan children.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Benjamin Keyes.

"I find myself being honored that these clients will let me see into the very depths of their souls and allow me to be a part of their healing journey," said Dr. Benjamin Keyes, Regent University's School of Psychology (SPC) professor.

As the director of Regent's Center for Trauma studies, Keyes and 12 other members of the Trauma Team traveled this summer to Kinangop, Kenya—a township nestled within the mountains of the Rift Valley, just 90 minutes northwest of Nairobi.

Though the 15 years of political unrest and the rivalry between the Kikuyu and Luo tribes in Nairobi has finally subsided, the people still grapple with the mental aftermath of the nation's perpetual discord.

Many Kenyan people are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Keyes explained. And as he traveled through the nation, he was hard-pressed to find a member of the community unaffected by witness to violence or abuse.

This was the second year SPC students and faculty traveled to Kenya with the Center for Trauma Studies. Keyes, along with the rest of the team, spent the trip visiting local schools, churches, an orphanage and a lingering Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp.

The nation of Kenya has noticed improvements following its political unrest—the number of IDP camps has decreased from five to one in the course of a year—and Keyes has also seen improvements as a direct result of the seeds the Trauma Team planted before.

"If we ever had any doubts about our effectiveness, they've been washed away," said Keyes. "It's working; it's all being implemented."

Keyes explained that pastors of the churches in the IDP camp were making monumental changes in how they dealt with domestic violence cases within their congregations. The pamphlets and PowerPoint presentations the group had left behind were being used in schools around the city.

Sarah Gooss, a third-year SPC student, joined Keyes on her first trip with the Trauma Team. Gooss worked with a local church, teaching the community leaders about how to help their congregants with substance abuse.

"It empowered them; it made them feel like they had something to offer and that they could make their communities different," said Gooss.

Gooss relished working with the orphans, and offered her free time by giving attention to and hugging the children who needed love the most.

"Their joy just sort of rubbed off on you, and that was really healing," said Gooss.

In the midst of the nation's struggles, Keyes was encouraged to see the Christian faith alive and growing within the hearts of its people. Since last year's trip, Keyes noted that four new churches have sprung up in the IDP camp the team returned to.

"We came to bless them, but they ended up blessing us—they were just on fire for God, and it showed in how they ran their lives and how they raised their children," said Keyes. "It was both wondrous and magnificent to see that in the midst of such darkness."

Learn more about the School of Psychology & Counseling and the Center for Trauma Studies.


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