In commemoration of World Trauma Day 2023, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria collaborated with the O’ Trauma Victims Initiative (OTVI) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in an event with the theme, “Embracing Resilience, Overcoming Trauma’s Impact; The Role of Government and Religious Actors.”
Held at the Adamu Aliero Auditorium of Baze University, Abuja, the commemoration event was put together to raise awareness about the emotional, psychological, and physical impact of trauma globally. With speeches, discussion panels, and heart-warming poetry and performances by students from of Sacred Heart Catholic School, the event encouraged a collective effort to work toward resilience, support, and empathy, emphasizing the interconnectedness of humanity in facing adversity.
Delivering his opening remarks, Fr. Stephen Ojapah of the OTVI appreciated the effort of the partners, stating that misdirected responses to traumatic experiences are partly responsible for some of the conflicts and violence in the country. He called on all victims of whatever form of traumatic experiences to convert the negativity into positive actions in order that others do not suffer what they suffered. He urged all guests and participants to see their presence and contributions as a valuable addition to addressing the issue of trauma in their society.
The Country Director of GPF Nigeria, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, called the university a fitting choice for the event, considering that the most recent victims of traumatic experiences in the country are students abducted from Nigerian universities. He called on the audience to imagine what those students—some of whom are still in captivity—are going through, the feelings of their immediate and extended families, as well as other students in the university.
Rev. Hayab encouraged those in attendance, saying, “We at Global Peace Foundation join the world to commemorate this day and call people of all creeds, races, nationalities, and ethnicities to promote love, care, and support for one another, particularly victims of trauma.”
Furthermore, Rev. Hayab reminded religious leaders that they have a role to play in helping both primary and secondary victims, considering their leadership role in society. He urged them to effectively play their roles of offering spiritual support as well as speaking out against trauma-inflicting actions to their adherents. He concluded by reminding those in authority that the protection of lives and properties is the basic responsibility of government, and together, they must strive to do just that.
A highlight of the event was the dialogue between a panel of discussants comprised of business professionals, religious leaders, and representatives of government. A central topic was the handling of mental health issues in which panelists emphasized the need for Nigerians to take mental health issues seriously and see trauma for the reality it is and, therefore, “break free from the chains of denial.”
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