During the summer Mission Trip, Angela Bryan conducted her third year of Trauma Care Training with Haven of Hope, Bolivia staff members. Training addressed the newest scientific findings in brain development, and how to develop specific interventions for the children battling different traumas. The HOH, Bolivia staff learned that recent scientific research shows that the traditional ways of handling trauma impact don’t work with the child because responses to misbehavior such as time outs or punitive consequences often reactivate the fear part of the brain. Caregivers learned that instead they need to respond to misbehaviors in such a way that calms the brain by giving the child new whole-body experiences where they understand that they are taken care of and are safe.

The way HOHI responds to the common trauma of food insecurity is one example of how this new trauma care approach is being implemented at HOHI. Many of the children come to HOHI having faced real hunger, having lived on the streets, raised in server poverty or having been neglected by substance addicted adults.  At their arrival, HOHI is able to provide them a loving environment, introduce them to God, feed them, educate them and care for their physical wellbeing. However, it is common for some that within months of their arrival, their food insecurity fear kicks back in and they take food from the pantry, returning to their survival conscience. The traditional way of dealing with such an action would be to verbally reprimand the child and withhold food from the child, expecting to change their fear through discipline.

Today, HOHI approaches such an issue based on the most up-to-date Trauma Care research and practices.  An HOHI child with hunger fear is allowed to access food whenever they want, 24/7. If necessary, they are given a bag of food to carry with them at all times, so they can touch, see, eat the food when their fear kicks in. This full body experience calms the survival part of the brain, and over time builds connections in the executive function parts of the brain, the pre- frontal cortex.  Disrupting the fear of food insecurity, by providing these whole-body experiences consistently can help in the healing of the child from this trauma.

If you would like to learn more about HOHI Trauma Care Program, please contact Angela at hohangela@gmail.com.

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