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Heal thy neighbor

Mental health services recruit locals to help residents of poor and war-torn countries

2:30pm, November 29, 2013

HOPEFUL HELP  A psychosocial worker in Burundi in 2005 assists a boy with epilepsy and his father with mental health and epilepsy treatment.

Nearly all the women of Mohmandara, a village in eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistan border, met at a local health clinic one day in 2005. Mental health workers at the clinic, run by a Dutch international aid organization, had heard village women talking to each other about “feelings of sadness” and “worrying too much.” The women eagerly accepted an invitation to talk it over at the clinic.

The village women described being beaten and harassed by their husbands, who were spurred on by their mothers and sisters. Families were imploding. Everyone in the group agreed that unemployment and poverty, in a land hounded by warfare, lay behind the surge of domestic violence.

With the help of a local woman trained by the aid organization, HealthNet TPO, the wives formulated a plan of action over several meetings.

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