Faith, Hope and Love Medical Network (since 2005)

In South Sudan, preventable diseases are the leading causes of death, and the maternal mortality rate continues to be one of the highest in the world. Having access to basic medical care in this region can literally save thousands of lives. FHL is the conduit through which we provide the physical, psychological, and spiritual care to all in our network, and it connects each orphanage and clinic.

From day one of Make Way Partners we knew that to help victims of human trafficking or oppression, medical care would be a huge component.  As we’ve built each orphanage, a small clinic has been included at each site.  However, these are rudimentary clinics run by base-line caregivers, unfortunately the best in Sudan and South Sudan at the time.  Even still, over the last several years as support has grown, this medical infrastructure continues to improve and deepen our care throughout each Make Way Partners location.

FHL assumes full responsibility for all oversight of each orphanage clinic—from administration, to training, to medical supplies.  It will very soon include a sterile surgical unit in South Sudan, saving lives and thousands of dollars with in-country surgeries.

The FHL medical network also serves to address the needs of the whole person who suffers severe trauma—from physical, to psychological, to spiritual care utilizing the principles of our equine facilitated trauma-informed care.  Our Mission Farm Training Center is the perfect “safe zone” to host much of our trauma-informed care for both nationals and internationals.

 

What is trauma-informed care?

Borrowed with permission from our partner, Natural Lifemanship.

“The National Center for Trauma-Informed Care defines trauma-informed approaches and trauma-specific interventions as based on principles “designed to address the consequences of trauma in the individual and to facilitate healing.”

It was formerly believed that psychological and behavioral disorders related to child maltreatment were caused by irreversible brain damage. We now know that, except in rare cases, irreversible brain damage is seldom the case. Rather, the experience of complex (i.e., chronic, unpredictable) trauma leads to physiological adaptations in the way that the brain functions. These adaptations occur when children are raised in often very unpredictable situations where survival is the overriding concern. Thus, the physiological functions that ensure survival (the nervous system’s fight, flight, or freeze response) become stronger and more efficient while those that compete with the survival instinct (thinking, planning, impulse control) remain weaker and disorganized.

When people live in a state of fear and uncertainty, they naturally become hypervigilant. Hypervigilance is an important, life-saving trait associated with highly reactive lower regions of the brain and it ensures quick and effective responses to threat. Anybody in the midst of conflict and violence must become hypervigilant as his or her survival truly depends on it. In a healthy functioning individual, hypervigilance will arise when necessary, but the individual will return to a state of calm when the threat is no longer present. It is well known that chronic traumatic stress, such as that experienced by soldiers living in combat zones and refugees, often leaves its mark on otherwise healthy adults in what we commonly call PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. We now also know that the brains of children who have experienced complex relational trauma have developed in such a way that they live in an almost constant state of alarm that may instantly progress to fear or terror for no apparent reason. Living in a state of constant hyper vigilance is associated with physiological changes that interfere with learning and lead to all sorts of undesirable behaviors, not to mention physical and mental health concerns. Children with this trait may be either highly disruptive or completely “checked out” at school and have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships. None of this is their fault, nor is their behavior willful. It is adaptive. Understanding and appropriately responding to people’s behavior from this perspective is essentially what it means to be “trauma-informed” (Natural Lifemanship, 2015).

How does trauma-informed care transform lives?

Borrowed with permission from our partner, Natural Lifemanship.

Understanding the impact of trauma on the brain is the first principle of trauma-informed approaches, because it gives us a new lens through which to interpret and respond to the socio-behavioral and cognitive challenges characteristic of individuals who suffer the effects of long-term exposure to trauma. Trauma-informed approaches, by definition, are distinct from trauma-specific treatments in that they are not designed to treat the effects of trauma. Rather, trauma-informed approaches aim to help individuals and systems incorporate knowledge and principles to promote an environment that is responsive to the needs of those affected by trauma. Most of all, they seek to prevent re-traumatization and to promote recovery and resilience through trauma-informed service delivery.

Make Way Partners utilizes and trains its staff with principles allowing one to respond to challenging behaviors in ways that benefit and build relationships with people suffering from trauma-related disorders while facilitating their recovery by promoting the reorganization of neural networks. The ability to self-regulate is first developed through relationship, and relationship remains a primary vehicle for change throughout the lifespan (Natural Lifemanship, 2015).

How and where does MWP utilize trauma-informed care?

Faith, Hope, and Love Medical Network (FHL) is the conduit through which we provide physical, psychological, and spiritual care to all in our anti-trafficking network, connecting each orphanage, clinic, staff member, and partner.

From day one, Make Way Partners knew that in order to help victims of human trafficking and modern-day oppression, medical care would be a vital component. As we’ve built each orphanage, a small clinic has been included on site. However, these are rudimentary clinics run by base-line caregivers. While we call them “rudimentary,” the Minister of Health in South Sudan has noted that they are the best in the nation. As we grow, this medical infrastructure continues to improve and deepen our care throughout each Make Way Partners location. FHL assumes full responsibility for all oversight of each orphanage clinic—from administration, to training, to medical supplies. It will very soon include a sterile surgical unit in South Sudan, saving lives and thousands of dollars with in-country surgeries.

As the ministry of Make Way Partners grows, we learn step-by-step how to do what has never been attempted—providing consistent, sustainable, transformational care and infrastructure for orphans, widows, and elderly held captive inside warzones by the merciless leaders who prey and profit upon them.

Our FHL medical network serves to address the needs of the whole person who suffers severe trauma—from physical, to psychological, to spiritual care utilizing the principles of our equine facilitated trauma-informed care.

This highly specialized Trauma-Informed Care is taught through equine facilitation and provides necessary preparedness for serving in war and trauma regions—focusing on both self-care and how to relate to those who we serve already suffering from PTSD.

Trauma-Informed Care provided through FHL is a unique and integral part of all that we do to end the cycle of violence and raise up a new generation of peacemakers in Sudan and South Sudan.

All staff as well as short and long-term mission team members are required to participate in a Fundamentals course, preparing each member to provide quality trauma-informed care regardless of the daily role they will fill on the ground. In this way, each team member also gains a sense of potential primary and secondary trauma that they may experience while in Sudan or South Sudan.  We also provide on-going training with these principles for our indigenous staff who provide consistent front-line care for children suffering from PTSD.