During the needs assessment visit to Les Cayes, conducted by Espere two days after Hurricane Matthew, one of our team members was able to mediate a disaster mental health support group for a group of adolescent girls. Through our partnership with Little Footprints Big Steps, a children's advocacy non-governmental organization (NGO) already operating in the area, Espere's mental health worker was able to meet with a group of 8 adolescent girls at a safe house for at-risk girls.
The session gave the girls to gather together and support each other. This communal approach helps participants to reduce post-disaster risks such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. The girls are dealing with many of the same issues as the general population; including the inability to locate family members, concern for their families and for everything that was lost (homes, animals, livlihoods, etc.). The support group gave the girls a chance to share their experiences of the hurricane. They were given space to process their feelings and thoughts about what life is like now and what it will be like in the future.
Although media attention will fade in the coming days and weeks, our commitment to helping Les Cayes is not short term. With the help of our generous sponsors and donors, Espere will continue to come back over the coming months to continue supporting this community through the aftermath of this earthquake.