Benjamin is a pastor and a school principal in Liberia. He is one of 21 church leaders who participated in mental health training this year in Liberia. He was previously trained with the Mercy Ships mental health program, so this was a follow up for him. In this brief video, he shares how he and other church leaders have used the training to help people in the community.
00:00:01 – It [the training] has changed my own perception. Fundamentally it has helped me to understand people, which is a key to me because most times we see people going through problems. And we don’t know the story behind their issue and we turn to judge them. We were made to understand that don’t just look at people from the surface. Try to understand and try to understand the reason why they do the things that they do. So it has helped me a lot.
00:00:44 – One of the key emphasis during the program also helped me was the issue of people being complicated. That I should not use one person’s scenario to judge the next person. So it’s always good to judge-or to evaluate individual based on who they are, what their experiences are or what their background are then you’ll be able to understand them.
00:01:10 – Okay, and then what that helped me to do is help me to conduct training for my own teachers. We are conducting training on the psychological first aid. For you don’t just look at a student because they are not performing in school and judge them. Because in Liberia if I give you a note and you are not performing, the conclusion is you are dull. But then we have to help our teachers to know some of those kids. They are coming from a difficult, difficult background. You need to work with them. You need to be like parents to them. Try to encourage them, and to know their story. Then you’ll be able to help them.
00:01:54 – We have also been able to help a lot of people around us who have been having difficulty in relationships, marriage. Some of them have been abusing substances. We help them.
00:02:04 – It has made us open to some people who have epileptic experience. We are no longer afraid of them. And because of the training we are taking advantage of existing spaces in our society.
00:02:22 – For example, the Hand to Hold Foundation, we are looking out for children who have been stigmatized. For example they bring them up from the interior and they do they bring them to help in the process. Their guardians are accusing them of being a witch. So based on the training that we receive we try to help those kids. And work with that parent to understand that it’s not good to stigmatize these children. Because you’re going to be creating a society that you don’t want. Yes.
00:02:56 – So to a large extent we’ve really been helped. About how and what is happening now in this current workshop is that some things that we were forgetting about we’ve been reminded about it. OK so we were going off track, but now we’ve been brought back and there were new emphasis added. So it is indeed a blessing.