Madagascar: Fighting Discouragement

Group work during Mental Health Training in Madagascar
Mental Health Training in Madagascar

In the developing world, mental health resources are usually not easily accessed—if they are available at all. People go to pastors, traditional healers, teachers, regular health clinics, or organizations for help. Working along with the Mercy Ships mental health program in Madagascar, Tributaries International recently helped equip 37 formal and informal service providers from 15 different organizations. Participants from children’s centers, shelters, clinics, hospitals, and churches were trained in basic mental health.

A Physician’s Story

Juliette is a physician who cares for people with leprosy and tuberculosis. She came to the training to find ways to keep her patients encouraged. “It’s very difficult,” she says, “to find a way to support and encourage them.”

Diagnosis of one of these diseases results in instant poverty and isolation. “Because of the illness they cannot work, so people I’m treating are also beggars. Everything is so difficult for them. They can’t even take the pousse-pousse (bicycle rickshaw) or tuk-tuk (a small motorized vehicle) to come for treatment. No one will take them.”

Juliette also raises awareness at local schools, so the children of people with leprosy don’t lose out on an education. Even though a person with leprosy can’t spread the disease after just one week of treatment, schools don’t want the children of lepers. She says after training they do change, but the children can still face prejudice. The whole family suffers—children, parents, grandparents—the stigma and difficulty of treatment wears them down.

Treatment takes six months to a year, and it is challenging to keep up the regimen. Most people lose hope. “I need to encourage them so they will not give up but finish the treatment.”

The mental health training has encouraged Juliette and has given her new ways to bring hope to the people she serves.

Tributaries International partners with Mercy Ships for mental health in Africa. Earlier this year, we collaborated for mental health training in Madagascar, Cameroon, and Benin. We’ll share more about the workshops in future updates. See the mental health training page for more about the program.

Later this summer and early fall, the TI mental health team will provide training in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. A donation of $50 can provide 5 days of training for a community worker.

THANK YOU for helping to make these life-changing workshops possible!

A lesson on perceptions.
A lesson on perceptions. Fifteen different organizations attended the workshop.
Group photo - participants in Madagascar
Collaborating with Mercy Ships in Madagascar for mental health training.