The impressions of Norbert Häberlin

Ban advocates in the seminar and training on Psycho Traum
Ban advocates in a meeting with Norbert Haberlin

The BA seminar and training on Psycho Trauma is part of follow up intervention after the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) conference conducted in Vientiane in November 2010 and provided a great opportunity to increase the skills of the Ban Advocates in the psycho trauma thematic. The workshop was conducted by Mr. Norbert Haberlin, specialist in psychotraumatology. Mr. Norbert had accompanied the international delegation of Ban Advocates during the CCM conference in Vientiane last November and while there he had the opportunity to meet with the BA group from Laos.

The BA training workshop on Psycho Trauma is very useful for those who are survivors. As members of the BA group they welcomed the opportunity to learn new skills and knowledge that will help them better cope with their problems. During the seminar, particularly through exchanges of personal experience and life situations, the participants learned how to better understand their own trauma episode and the multiple effects of such a traumatic event.

Theoretical support provides them with knowledge to explain the definition of trauma, the several causes, the ways to be traumatized, the different sequences of traumatic experience, the symptoms and therefore some skills on how to better cope with them and where to find support.

The BA also learned how to become a helper of victims of cluster munitions, their families and their  communities. Communication, information, awareness and advocacy skills were also encouraged.

The Ban Advocates greatly benefited from this seminar. They learned different approaches and all of them felt free to share their emotions and exchange their experiences with the group. At the end of this introductory seminar, all participants express that they have more confidence in themselves. They feel they can take this knowledge and these skills and share them with their colleagues and their communities to improve the overall Victim Assistance sector.

The impressions of Norbert Häberlin

The Laos Ban Advocates take their time for an important task: coming to terms with the painful past and the consequences today.

Whether the ”UXO Accident“ happened a long time ago or not, it left its physical and psychological marks on the Ban Advocate concerned. He or she all of a sudden was confronted with a fully new set of personal circuThmstances. He or she had to find his or her place in the family and in society as a  physically disabled person. This was and is not possible without further ado if he or she is no longer in a position to feed the family or take care of the family, or when mainly young people cannot continue their schooling and lose contact with their friends of the same age and their future is uncertain.

It goes without saying that the ”UXO Accident“, as an incident in itself, is difficult to cope with, or rather that it is difficult to integrate this incident as part of one’s life. Many barely have the time to deal with the ”Accident“ as an incident; survival was the main goal, and what should not be disregarded is the fact that the ”Accident“ did not
affect the Ban Advocate as an individual, but as part of a family, a society. Especially in a society like in Laos, this is of far-reaching importance.

The objective of the seminar was to allow the Laos Ban Advocates to deal with both painful experiences described above, the accident in itself and the consequences for themselves and their environment in a protected framework. Two elements were decisive for this process. First, to connect the experience with
theoretical knowledge, which means that one should try to make one’s experience and one’s reactions comprehensible and understandable. Second, to exchange experiences with colleagues, to understand and encourage each other mutually, by sharing experiences.

It is Ban Advocates‘ task to be committed to ensure that UXO are no longer being produced, that they will not be used anymore and that they –where they are still used- are thoroughly disposed of. This is a mission they are accomplishing as “Survivors” for the benefit of others, so that others do not need to suffer the same fate.

The mission also means that they must constantly face the same painful experience. Therefore, this seminar hopefully helps the Ban Advocates to cope with this task in a less wearing manner.
Norbert Häberlin