From January to March, 2013, Ankur conducted 97 individual counseling sessions for children from NYF’s J and K House, New Life Center, as well as the community. Additionally, 12 group counseling sessions were held.
During this three month period, counselors made 14 visits to the J and K House to establish a rapport with the children and to help them develop social skills in a fun, safe environment. These visits also provided an opportunity for the counselors to observe the children's behavior in their home environment and their interpersonal relationships with each other and house parents.
Nepalganj Unit: Providing Psychological Support for Rescued Kamlaris
The Ankur Counceling Center in Nepalgunj (a city in Western Nepal) has been helping girls who have been freed from indentured servitude. Many of these girls have been severely traumatized and their emotional needs have largely been neglected. NYF has trained dozens of rescued girls to be peer counselors, and they have formed support groups with hundreds of members. Ankur’s counselors travel throughout the program area to monitor the support groups and arrange further training for the peer counselors.
During the reporting period, 152 girls were provided individual counseling through 256 sessions, 78 group counseling sessions were conducted for 304 girls. Likewise, 345 home visits, 245 school visits and 18 hostel visits were made by the peer counselors. Currently there are 45 Peer Counselors and 1156 members in 91 support groups. 199 Support Group Meetings were held in these three months.
Recovering from the Past
Nepal has faced a number of hardships over the past several decades. A protracted civil war lasted ten years and left over 15,000 deaths and over 100,000 displaced people. Political instability continues, and a weak economy has resulted in nearly 50% unemployment.
Children have been especially affected. Many were orphaned by the civil war or sent to work in urban areas where they are at risk for exploitation. Drug abuse is rampant amongst street children.
While these children have suffered emotional trauma, they have very little access to mental health resources. Psychological counseling is still in its infancy in Nepal. To meet this need, the Nepal Youth Foundation established the Ankur Counseling Center in 2006. At Ankur, professional counselors provide psychological therapy to underprivileged children. This counseling helps the children to overcome their pasts and achieve their full potential.
Ankur’s beneficial therapies reach beyond individual children. The Center additionally holds group therapy sessions and workshops. These are especially helpful for the children living at J and K House, NYF’s children’s homes. Therapy sessions help the children develop interpersonal and leadership skills, as well as building self-esteem. The workshops cover such issues as stress management and drug abuse. Beyond offering direct support for Nepal’s children, Ankur is working towards improving the field of mental health in Nepal.
Ankur was the first center in Nepal to introduce sandplay therapy. In sandplay therapy, the children use small figurines and a sandbox to express their feelings. Since this modality transcends language, it is particularly well suited for children. Ankur’s counselors now train other psychologists to use sandplay.
Capacity building is an important part of Ankur’s work. Every year, hundreds of people from around Nepal come to attend a wide range of trainings and workshops. These participants include psychology students and professionals, childcare workers, teachers, parents, and even Buddhist monks and women’s groups.
Another way that Ankur is contributing to the future of mental health in Nepal is by offering internships to college students who are studying social work. The interns are active participants at many of the activities at the center, and gain a greater understanding of the importance of psychosocial care.
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