The 2022 war in and around Ukraine is an immediate crisis for millions of Ukrainians and their land and reverberates to communities around the world. WSI is building partnerships to assist with this crisis. We will join partners in eastern Europe in early summer 2022 to further develop and establish the following initiatives:
1. Shining a light.
We will provide a forum and platform for voluntary documentation of experiences and stories to allow those harmed to tell the world more about what has and is happening to them and their places. WSI is committed to continuing our work of shining a light on the harms of war by publishing survivor-directed stories in professional and public media.
2. A path to hope.
WSI and its partners have led the worldwide movement to improve and disseminate culturally and contextually sensitive screening for distress and the need for services. The Refugee Health Screener – 15 (RHS-15), now in Ukrainian and 19 other languages, is the most utilized screening instrument for civilian war survivors around the world. We will work with our partners to establish best practice screening programs in humanitarian and resettlement contexts throughout Europe. We are also developing online and in-person services to help those whose lives have been shattered to regain hope for a new trajectory. This will build on WSI’s “Path to Whole Health” programs.
3. For the children.
Following our work helping to establish trauma treatment programs for children who lost their parents to war in Sierra Leone, we will work with partners to do the same in eastern Europe. Our goal is to develop and conduct three sustainable initiatives. First will be to adapt and deliver “Path to Whole Health” programs for children in partnership with Refugee Psychology. Second will be to fund and develop a healing center in Krakow, Poland where displaced Ukrainian children can re-gain play and normal social movement. The third is aspirational: to find children from the COLOR MUSIC Choir who have been scattered throughout Europe due to war and bring them together to assist them in producing and distributing their music. If this is accomplished, it will be so only in full partnership with the director of this choir, with whom we are in contact.
War Survivors: Healing the Heart Center Self Paced Program
This self-paced program is designed for you to complete on your own. Follow the link below and you will receive a workbook with instructional videos. Our team will guide you through a series of activities that will take you on a transformational journey from the effects of war on their health and heart to ways to promote healing by improving heartful movement, eating, social support, and mind-body work, all wrapped in living a meaningful and purposeful life.
War Survivors: Healing the Heart Center Retreat
WSI hosted our first, “Healing the Heart Center” Retreat at Aravaipa Canyon Ranch in Arizona on February 14 – 16, 2020. Veteran war survivors laid the groundwork moving toward their highest self by working on identifying and re-gaining trauma loss through telling their story. Healthy heart centered food was provided by Chef David’s team at The Oracle Patio Café, and the music of Jason Moon supported attendees in healing. Participants learned more about the connection of mind and the body, received acupuncture treatments and healing herbs to sooth and calm the spirit. Ranch owner David Rychner celebrated with attendees over fires and connection through cowboy songs.
Watch our video:
Haitian Community Translation Project
WSI was selected by the Refugee Program of the State of Florida to develop the Refugee Health Screener-15 into Haitian Creole. The project includes an intentional process by which a group of native Haitians will help to norm and validate the RHS-15 into this language.
The Haitian Creole- RHS-15 will be made available for health screenings, protection and other humanitarian goals. Check our Resource Page on the RHS-15 to find the release!
WSI Path to Whole Health Workshops for Refugee Communities
In Louisville, Kentucky we hosted a Path workshop with refugee survivors from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We focused on integrating mind and body techniques, healthy eating and movement activities. The group members engaged in dance, celebrated with song, ritual drumming and enjoyed connection through community building.
In Portland, Oregon with project partners Lutheran Community Services Northwest and Project Untangled we hosted a Syrian Path to Whole Health refugee survivor workshop. Community members engaged in mind-body techniques, healthy eating and movement as well as shared stories of loss and hope. The community celebrated successes, shared cultural practices including traditional dance and faith practices all facilitative of healing.
Annual Walk for War Survivors
WSI held its first annual “Walk for War Survivors” September 17, 2017 in Long Beach, CA. This annual event supports our Path to Health© seminars for military Veteran war survivors. This event is held each fall. Join Our Newsletter (below) to be placed on the mailing list for this event.
Healing the Heart Center
WSI received a grant from the Astella’s Foundation to offer our Path to Whole Health ©, Healing the Heart Center seminars for combat Veterans in four states. These one-day seminars focus on the relationship of trauma and post-traumatic stress and the heart. We provide education about the physiology and behaviors that promote heart disease and ways to reduce both post-traumatic stress and cardiovascular risk through improving movement, eating, social support and a life on purpose, and mind-body work.
Healing Wounds: Connecting Military and Refugee War Survivors Through Music and Film – 2019
Healing Wounds is an arts-based program for the community. This event brought together military and ex-refugee war survivors of the U.S. – Vietnam conflict to share and view video clips of “A Lifetime of Arts: The Music of Le Van Khoa” and “In the Shadow of the Blade: A Movie by Patrick and Cheryl Frits” . A panel discussion was hosted by CEO Dr. Hollifield. This program celebrated the aspirational healing of war survivors and we had more than 40 participants attend.
Join Our Newsletter (below) to be placed on the mailing list for this unique and inspirational program.
Enhancing Screening for Mental Health with the International Organization of Migration (IOM) – 2017-2018
WSI is honored to work with the IOM to bring enhanced mental health screening and services to refugees in Uganda who are preparing to make the journey to the U.S. This project improves mental health assessment and services in humanitarian settings, and improves survivors’ adaptation during resettlement in the U.S. Twenty-nine providers received pilot training about screening, and 24 providers and interpreters received on-site training in the process. Over 700 refugees were screened and over 3% were identified for further evaluation and services.
Click here to see the Executive Summary of this project. IOM Summary for WSI Website_4.2.19
Clothing for Refugee War Survivors (SWSI) – 2017
Students for War Survivors (SWSI) in Seattle organized a clothing drive to benefit refugee war survivors. An extra special thanks to Grumpy D’s Coffee House, Sip and Ship, and Holy Grounds Coffeehouse for being a part of this drive. We are eternally grateful for the approximately 1,000 pounds of great clothing that benefitted persons of refugee origin served by the International Rescue Committee Seattle and the MAYE Center for Cambodian people in Long Beach, CA.
Helping Gardens Grow (SWSI) – 2018
Students for War Survivors (SWSI) in Seattle conducted a bake sale to support a community garden for refugee survivors administered by the International Rescue Committee, Renton, WA. Over $1,400 were raised to purchase a shed for the garden tools and a wheelbarrow. WSI President/CEO Michael Hollifield and Treasurer/CFO Valerie Wada joined SWSI national chairperson Cameron Clonch in August, 2018 in helping maintain the garden and prepare for delivery of the shed and wheelbarrow.
The Honoring Peshmerga Project – 2019-2020 (In development)
The Honoring Peshmerga Project (HPP) will begin a partnership between Kurdistan and WSI to help promote healing of these incredible war survivors. The partnership will work to develop and implement a culturally-informed Path to Health© program for Kurdish war survivors.