26 junho 2019

Testimony: My internship in Portugal by Pauline

Mes impressions  et mon ressenti en arrivant ici.

1. En arrivant à  Lisbonne, j'ai eu des étoiles dans les yeux parce que je rêver de voir cette ville  dont j'entendais parler à la télévision avec les monuments,la nourriture  et la gentillesse  des gens ici.

2. Je me  dis que j'ai de la chance  de pouvoir participer à ce  voyage  pour approfondir mes connaissances professionnelles et faire de nouvelles rencontres interculturel magique.

3. Mon lieu de stage est super bien,je suis super contente même si il y a la barrière de la langue les personnes  sont calmes et prennent le temps de m'expliquer par exemple avec mon tuteur de stage qui est aussi mon mentor  il est très patient car c'est vraiment difficile de ce faire comprendre mais je me débrouille.

4. Le dimanche on est aller faire les courses et on a partager le payement.

5. le lundi  j'ai fait la connaissance  de mon mentor qui est très gentil et mon lieu de stage qui est magnifique.
• Ce jour là j'ai participer à l'atelier d'anglais,et les personnes qui faisaient de la broderie ou de la couture on fait un repas et m'ont proposait de venir manger avec eux,c'était vraiment adorable.

6.   Le mardi j'ai participer  au  cours d'anglais,d'espagnol et j'ai préparer des drapeaux avec des nombres pour le vendredi de cette semaine
• le midi j'ai manger des spécialités d'ici et fran m'a fait visiter un peu les alentours.
• ensuite l'après-midi j'ai aidé  un peu (car c'était très difficile)à enlever un tas de cailloux qu'il fallait mettre dans le jardin autour  des plantes à l'académie  senior de carnide et j'ai aider  à trier  les tickets de payement à  distribuer à des personnes de l'académie senior.

7. Aujourd'hui  jeudi ,j'ai participé  au cours d'anglais
La deuxième semaine :
Lundi je suis allée à l'ambassade pour ma carte d'identité
Mardi j'ai  participer au cours de langues vivantes
Jeudi et vendredi je n'est pas travailler
Samedi on est aller à sintra
La 3ieme semaine :
Lundi et mardi cours de langue vivantes
Mecredi: j'ai participer au cours de gymnastique et j'ai aider à nettoyer les vitres
Jeudi: j'ai aidé à installer pour le spectacles de fin d'année
Vendredi :j'ai fait la sortie à setubal et le repas avec toutes les personnes de l'académie senior de carnide
La dernière semaine :je ne travaille pas

8. Je remercie parcours le monde,la mission locale  de m'avoir permis de profiter de cette expérience
•  et à spin de m'avoir accueilli ici,merci Sara et tout les membres de  l'association 😊🎉

Ps:ici la vie est super bien mais j'ai toujours peur de me perdre

24 junho 2019

Testimony: Training course about Emergency Pedagogy by Ana

I  have worked with asylum seekers for almost 2 years, so I was really excited when I started this training "From crisis to chance" but I didn't have any idea  that it would be so good.

Every day we started with the Morning Circle. This way of starting the day reminded us that we were a group. Bernd Ruf, the founder of Emergency Pedagogy, taught us the importance of the feeling of belonging for  children that lived though a potentially traumatic situation.

For us, the trainees, who didn't know each other, and spent one week together, belonging was a really important feeling for us too. One week later, we had come to know each other and we already knew which role each person would play in our group.

The main goal of  Emergency Pedagogy is to work with children that had lived through a potentially traumatic situation. For Bernd Ruf, trauma is a wound in a soul, that's why it is so important take care of that wound as soon as possible. Otherwise, the wound will become an illness. This concept was really inspiring and motivating to our work. It's hard work and this training was good to us to share our difficulties and our strategies to overtake the frustration. We experienced different strategies to express our feelings trough  art, like painting, music, dancing,  rythm games and clay modeling. We never should force children to speak but they need express their feeling, it’s helpful.

All the concepts and the theorietal and practical knowledge was very interesting and I believe I became a better socialworker. But I would also recognize the importance of the personal skills acquired. We talked about our customs, our food and political and social questions.

So I would like to congratulate the organisers of this kind of event that promote our professional networking. I would really like to thank you for organizin Spin for all dedication. The training was really organised and I feel that Spin respects people’s time, prizes and encourages knownledge sharing, and that’s really positive.

From Portugal,
Ana Vieira

19 junho 2019

Testimony: Training course about Emergency Pedagogy by Maša

I first heard about this training course, when my Slovenian colleague send me a Call for partners from SPIN organization with a caption reading ''From crisis to chance'' – training course on emergency pedagogy''. She was ecstatic about this opportunity and her excitement transferred onto me. We soon started writing partnership proposal, asking our Slovenian organisation to back us up.

We're both personally and professionally connected to the field of pedagogy, but we never had any official training related to emergency pedagogy. Naturally, the title sparked interest, since growing our field of knowledge is one of the top priorities. Hearing about it straight form the horse's mouth, the founder of this field – Bernd Ruf – was like a cherry on top of the whole training.

What it did for me, personally, was changing my perspective of trauma and how to work with it. In the beginning, it was hard to follow the process of singing weird songs and simultaneously clapping to the rhythm. Why are we doing this? I look silly, it all looks a bit silly. We were thrown into the water – into the methodology, and for a first timer it didn't make sense. What then happened during the process of reaching the end of the training course, was that an understanding of why-the-weird-songs-etc. started to appear. I'm still way too inexperienced to feel confident using the principles we've learned in my professional life. This requires a lot more reading and a lot more experiencing and a lot more understanding. But what I'm very glad about, is that this training course gave me invaluable insights, a whole suitcase of new methods and motivation to dig deeper and explore emergency pedagogy even further.

Maša V.

17 junho 2019

Testimony: Training course about Emergency Pedagogy by Stamatina

When I first saw the announcement for a training course on Emergency Pedagogy in Lisbon, I was more than excited as it combined everything that I had in mind by that time. Therefore, I was really thankful that I got accepted. The experience that I gained from the training, made me fall in love with my profession and with the great city of Lisbon even more!

I remember the first time that I set my foot in Spin Hostel and the warm atmosphere that the volunteers and youth workers had achieved to create. I quickly felt at ease with the fellow workers and the care that Spin Association put into organizing the cause of Emergency Pedagogy made this week possible for  26 participants.
This training course was organized mainly into two parts: the seminars held by Bernd Ruf and the workshops. Bernd Ruf’s work was admirable as he transferred to us years of experience and knowledge on the field of children’s psychology and taught us the foundations of Emergency and Trauma Pedagogy. We learned about the different types of traumas, the symptoms of stress reaction and the therapeutic interventions. What made an impact on me was how the trauma can make a child feel detached from its own body and the fact that in many occasions the child after a natural disaster, a state of war or an abuse may not feel some parts of its body. This shocking experience can interrupt the unity of the body and the soul and cause a feeling of imbalance. For that reason, from the two workshops, we learned the importance of promoting rhythmic movement and artistic expression that helped the children stay focused on the moment and activate their body movements. Through my experience from working with clay and drawing, I understood that many times unconsciously the body “remembers” without even the necessity of words. All of the exercises functioned therapeutically and brought us closer as a team. The visit in Crescer Association and the stories of young refugees were aspiring and showed us how solidarity can change a person’s life and how strong the human spirit can be.

Last but not least, the conversations that I had with the youth workers affected me and made me reconsider my professional career while raising ever more my love for children and my will to help as a psychotherapist. All of the volunteers and employees showed true affection for their job and made me believe that a better future is possible. I will close this article with a saying by Bernd Ruf: “You cannot do nothing without LOVE”. It is known for years but we tend to forget.

Muito obrigada! Vejo -vos em breve, meus amigos!

Matina Kalafateli

14 junho 2019

O testimunho do João - EVS in Bulgaria "Deep Roots"

Estou a participar num projeto de voluntariado em Kazanlak na Bulgária. Eu, uma mala e a ideia de que algo precisa de ser mudado no planeta bastou para me afastar mais de 3500 km de casa durante dois meses.

Juntamente com onze voluntários de nove nacionalidades diferentes, pretende-se que organizemos um festival “Eco”, cujo objetivo é abordar os vários problemas que este país enfrenta no que diz respeito à proteção do ambiente. O festival terá um impacto a nível local e queremos informar o máximo de pessoas possível sobre as consequências das suas ações no dia a dia no planeta Terra. Além disso, fazemos também recolhas de lixo semanais, apresentações em escolas e pequenos vídeos informativos.

Kazanlak fica numa área conhecida como vale das rosas, bem no coração da Bulgária. É uma zona rodeada de bonitas colinas cobertas de árvores e com incríveis tempestades de relâmpagos que cortam o céu ao meio seguidos por trovões que fazem tremer a cidade. A natureza aparece aqui no seu estado mais puro e sinto-me privilegiado por poder contemplá-la. No entanto, há demasiado lixo espalhado pelas florestas, caminhos e lagos, os carros são antigos tornando o ar pesado e poluído e os locais não mostram grande interesse em mudar essa situação.

Nós estamos aqui para tentar inverter a situação e gerar cada vez mais interessados na proteção do planeta. Nem sempre é fácil trabalhar e viver com onze pessoas, mas o desafio faz parte do projeto e se eu quisesse que fosse fácil, tinha ficado em casa. Por outro lado, divertimo-nos muito juntos e acho que isso reflete-se no que temos feito.

Para terminar, quero dizer a todos os que planeiam sair da sua zona de conforto, quer seja para ajudar alguém ou para trabalhar no estrangeiro que espero que o façam. É uma experiência que não vão esquecer!

Testimony: Training course about Emergency Pedagogy by Gina

Emergency pedagogy is an emergent topic that needs to gain more attention. During the introductory training course on this subject, I have learned the theoretical basics of this practice and I have experienced how powerful and effective the methods of emergency pedagogy are during the practical workshops-which I need to confess that I liked most.

What I think is important to notice first is how emergency pedagogy started. The trigger for this was the keen observation of its founder, Bernd Ruf, who saw that during the aftermath of a natural or human-made disaster, only the wounded children were receiving attention and necessary help, while the rest, which had no external injuries, were left to deal with their internal injuries. And exactly this is the place and the moment where emergency pedagogy becomes crucial: in the very first days after a disaster took place, when most of the children are inert, in shock. Some of them may have no expression, some may have lost everything, and some might tell a story where they needed to get out from a stack of dead bodies.

It is not difficult to imagine that some of them will remain traumatized after these horrific events if they don’t receive the necessary help and guidance to cope with these traumatic situations. So in order to help them, there are emergency pedagogy intervention teams, that once arrived at the disaster place, apply different kinds of methods based on movement, singing, drawing or clay modeling in order to help the children and also adults to release their physical and psychological ‘cramp’. The best way to describe how emergency pedagogy works is to think of a wound- which represents the trauma, that needs to be protected in order to prevent it from getting infected (which would represent a disorder). So in the same way that first medical aid is provided by putting a plaster on a physical wound, emergency pedagogy is protecting the inner wound, by sustain its healing process.

Another aspect that I found important is the classification of traumas and also the statistics about how people recover from the different types of traumas. Most interesting I found the information that up to 80% out of the traumatized children recover from their trauma within 6 months, if the trauma was caused by a natural disaster. Which means that we have the ability within us to recover from a natural disaster and the only thing that we can do to help the traumatized children is to trigger their self-healing capacity. But while we are structured to cope and overcome the traumas produced by natural disasters, or we could say, disasters produced by an ‘’invisible hand’, we are no so good in coping with what is called a ‘relationship trauma’- where a real, closed person is the cause of the trauma.

It was extremely helpful for me to understand how a relationship trauma reflects itself in the behavior of traumatized children and adults, how a trauma is changing the functions of our brain and how the relationship trauma is the one that is the most difficult to heal. I think it is extremely important that people become more aware about the effects and symptoms of this type of trauma and in this way, it should become less taboo to speak about it, especially for the victims. It is also important that victims know that they can be helped through various methods and that it is almost necessary to search for specialized help. Another concept that we could focus on is posttraumatic growth, through which victims get stronger after dealing with their trauma.

As a conclusion, participating to this training course was one of the most interesting experiences I have had. What impressed me most besides everything that I have learned was the flow and the good vibe of our group. I think the whole atmosphere was amazing. So it was normal that the first days after my return where quite difficult, but luckily I could quickly ask the children from my classroom to play with me a ‘Tipi -Tipi, Tapa -Tapa, Topo -Topo’ song and everything came back to ‘normal’ again. Not only that I am using with them many of the exercises that I’ve learned during the practical workshops, but I’m also aiming to make other educators and parents more aware about the importance emergency pedagogy and the benefits of using these kind of therapeutically methods.

Testimony: Emergency Pedagogy Training Course in Lisbon by Marta

“Morning has come, night is away, rise with the sun, welcome the day”

What a hopeful message for everyday life! And what a wonderful image to bring to someone emotionally wounded… That was the way we started our day at the Emergency Pedagogy (E.P.) training course, by singing to this song in the morning while moving to warm up and get ready for the seminar.

When I first heard Bernd Ruf on a seminar about Emergency Pedagogy, a few years ago, it totally resonated with me, and I was sure I wanted to know more about it. Luckily enough, it was possible to do it this year, this time at a deeper level.

Through this course, I was able to:
- recall the process of trauma
- understand how the emergency intervention can be effective after the very first weeks after the traumatic event
- learn the specific methods used by E.P. (I tried them myself during the practical lessons)
- learn the school curriculum and its different levels of therapy (from the music and arts to the body care, nutrition, storytelling, gardening activities and even the architecture of the surrounding buildings)
- get some tips on the mental hygiene a carer/educator can have.

It was an intensive week, full of valuable information and impressions that are still reverberating inside me. I could address two different aspects of this training course: the seminar itself, and the cultural approach.

Concerning the seminar itself, one of the most interesting things I realize was that emergency
pedagogy works especially during the 8 weeks after trauma. This could explain why it is so hard for
me, as a kindergarten teacher, to help my children dealing with their own troubles. In one hand, I do
not actually know their real traumas because it is not something obvious (like a child who would witness war or a tsunami, for instance). On the other hand, even if I would know something really terrible, I would be working at a long term after- trauma period, which would be less effective since it
would be turned into a disorder.

Another very interesting discovery for me was that although E.P. is based on Waldorf Education, there is no need to advocate it. Having Waldorf education as a background myself, it was somehow easy for me to connect to the methods presented, but I was very willing and curious to try a different perspective, as if I would not know anything about it. As a consequence, I found out that this whole experience allowed me to get some fresh air on Waldorf education and to reconnect to the Steiner philosophy again – like I would recall inside me why I fell in love with it long time ago, so to speak. A third impression that meant a lot for me was to observe very clearly the individual approach of each of us during the arts classes. It surprised me to see the amazingly different drawings/paintings /sculptures that resulted at the end of the class!

Concerning the cultural aspect, it amused me a lot spending time among European mates, observing different backgrounds and different ways of dealing with work/time/subjects/politics and even the gastronomy. And to observe some stereotypes (including myself)! It really sparkled me joy. In another level of the emotional spectrum, the testimony of Ahmad (the Syrian youngman who shared his own experience as a refugee) was a strong moment for me that surely brought me awareness of my own intolerance. 

To sum up, for me this training course was a really good experience, with a great organization and structure. The team behind it is itself an inspiration, since they were very well articulated altogether, and they are clearly tough workers! 

11 junho 2019

Testimony: Emergency Pedagogy Training Course in Lisbon by Jesús

Dear reader ... I write this letter with great enthusiasm and affection since this course was one of the best experiences at a pedagogical level that I never had.

Everything from the internal organization of the spin association to the organization of the course did a wonderful job, from the methodology and scientific rigor, but also from the heart, which was evident in each of the actions that took place during that course. Going into the most specific part, I would like to highlight different aspects of the developed and how.

The structure of the course, from my point of view, was perfect. Having a first theoretical view of the subject to be addressed is also facilitated by a person with so much knowledge in the field and so easy to transmit knowledge and feelings (even through a language unknown to most participants), got close to a very clear way to the world of emergency pedagogy.

Through these theoretical lessons I was able to learn much more about how a person's mind (and especially children's) works in a moment of shock and in the trauma that it usually leaves afterwards. Not only at the physiognomic level but also at the psychological and social level. In the same way I could feel how important is the work of the pedagogue at this time, not only in the direct intervention in the place where the tragedy occurs but in the subsequent monitoring and of course also in the places of reception in the case of refugees .

The perfect complement to all this theoretical information received in the first two hours of the morning, put the practical activities, where we clearly experience what can take place in the process of management and help of the traumatized person through tools such as activity physical, the game, the rhythm, the routines, the art ... were sensations and wonderful experiences that those days happened.

The day did not end there, and usually in the afternoons, super interesting activities took place both inside and outside the center; visits to oenegés, places of interest in the host city, "networking" with the rest of the classmates, etc. In these actions I had the opportunity to know much more about aspects that I did not know before, such as the situation of immigrants and especially refugees both before and during and after leaving the country. I spoke with several people who, with an open heart, gave me very moving testimonies about everything they had to go through until they reached Europe.

In the same way, I was able to share with my class colleagues very interesting aspects of their work in their organizations of origin, their work and life styles, as well as cultural aspects of their countries. Of all this, besides the magnificent personal experience that I took, I was able to nurture myself of numerous and excellent tools to be able to put into practice in the future.

By Jesús

ESC experience from France: "May comes to an end at La Giraudiere " by Patricia

As time flies by, we can't help but marvel at the extraordinary adventure of France.

Last week we had the first La Giraudiere day, which meant a pause from our computer research and our project titled Recognizing Young Entrepreneurs & Teaching Entrepreneurship 2019 and Paul, the project’s director,  introduces to us some skills which are related to entrepreneurship and business skills. With a welcome break in the rain we also did some gardening around the house where we are staying, clearing branches and bad grass so we have a nice park at our newly adopted home for the following months.

Day trip to Saintes

The following day was a total surprise for everyone because we took a day trip to Saintes, which was not scheduled at all, but we had a good time visiting the city. Saintes is situated in the department of the Charente maritime and borders the river Charente and is so rich in roman history. We had previously visited Angouleme another city rich in history which we mentioned in our previous newsletter. Another delight of our first month in France was a group trip to Bordeaux and despite some rain during this trip it failed to dampen our spirits as we took on the many delights that Bordeaux offers.

Thanks to the French and the English lessons we are having with the teachers at La Giraudiere each day  we feel more confident about our language skills.

French and English lessons at La Giraudiere

In the same month, an important visit took place as the correspondent from the local newspaper, Charente Libre, visited us to see how the project was progressing, he prepared an article about our project and its prospects which was published upon the newspaper’s blog and Eventually, we hope, the article will be released in the press.

The Group with local & international volunteers and the Teachers

05 junho 2019

Petit texte des ressentis en arrivant au Portugal de Pauline (Short text of feelings after arriving in Portugal by Pauline)

In June SPIN and also SPIN hostel host 10 youngsters from rural areas of France. They are doing their internship in different organizations like Crew Hassan, Anjos70, Academia Senior working with old people, or with children, horses... Main goal of this internship is to give them new opportunity to learn, gain experience, to try life abroad, life alone without parents (cooking, shopping, managing money, washing clothes... etc.) 

How is it going? How do they handle their first days? Answers you can find here, in Pauline's testimony.... time to practice your French! :) 

Mes impressions et mon ressenti en arrivant ici
1. En arrivant à Lisbonne, j'ai eu des étoiles dans les yeux parce que je rêver de voir cette ville dont j'entendais parler à la télévision avec les monuments,la nourriture et la gentillesse des gens ici.

2. Je me dis que j'ai de la chance de pouvoir participer à ce voyage pour approfondir mes connaissances professionnelles et faire de nouvelles rencontres interculturel magique.

3. Mon lieu de stage est super bien,je suis super contente même si il y a la barrière de la langue les personnes sont calmes et prennent le temps de m'expliquer par exemple avec mon tuteur de stage qui est aussi mon mentor il est très patient car c'est vraiment difficile de ce faire comprendre mais je me débrouille.

4. Le dimanche on est aller faire les courses et on a partager le payement.

5. le lundi j'ai fait la connaissance de mon mentor qui est très gentil et mon lieu de stage qui est magnifique.
• Ce jour là j'ai participer à l'atelier d'anglais,et les personnes qui faisaient de la broderie ou de la couture on fait un repas et m'ont proposait de venir manger avec eux,c'était vraiment adorable.

6. Le mardi j'ai participer au cours d'anglais,d'espagnol et j'ai préparer des drapeaux avec des nombres pour le vendredi de cette semaine
• le midi j'ai manger des spécialités d'ici et Fran m'a fait visiter un peu les alentours.
• ensuite l'après-midi j'ai aidé un peu aidé(car c'était très difficile)à enlever un tas de cailloux qu'il fallait mettre dans le jardin autour des plantes à l'académie senior de carnide et j'ai aider à trier les tickets de payement à distribuer à des personnes de l'académie senior

7. Je remercie parcours le monde,la mission locale de m'avoir permis de profiter de cette expérience
• et à spin de m'avoir accueilli ici,merci Sara et tout les membres de l'association.

Ps:ici la vie est super bien mais j'ai toujours peur de me perdre. 

Training course about Emergency Pedagogy - Spanish team testimony

Being able to participate in the Training Course "From crisis to chance" in the city of Lisbon was a great experience, both personally and professionally. During this period we had the opportunity to collaborate, learn, enjoy and experiment with altruistic and good-hearted people. Each of the people attending this project contributed with their experience, knowledge and enthusiasm, making it very special.

There were three open-minded participants per country, who all wanted to make this world a better place, who fight for injustice and dedicate their time to improve the lives of those around them. Each one of the participants was open to new methodologies and action guidelines to know how to react to any situation of "trauma", trying to understand the whole process and acquiring all the necessary notions to react to any crisis situation.

In this training course we learnt a lot of theory about how trauma works and how we can help prevent it and heal it. We had several conferences by very knowledgeable professionals, in which we learnt about psycho-traumatology, psychohigiene, therapeutical methods... We also had a very interesting cineforum, in which we saw a documentary about the work of these professionals in natural disasters. Without a doubt, these theoretical workshops were incredibly useful for our future, and it was really interesting to learn about these concepts and theories in a dynamic way. 

However, it was the ability to put it into practice that we appreciated the most. We personally participated in artistic workshops which are useful to implement with people in contexts of trauma. For example, we created figures with clay, we painted a mural, we sang songs, we played different rhythms… All these workshops were very inspiring and made us grow in a personal way, teaching us methods to use with children and youngsters.

Finally, we would like to thank both Associação Spin and Asociación Mundus for the opportunity to continue our training as educators, teachers and social workers, since we are convinced that this type of learning contributes to the fact that tomorrow we can exercise youth work with greater quality.

04 junho 2019

Testimony on Emergency Pedagogy Training Course in Lisbon


When I woke up after my nightshift in the hospital, I saw an announcement for a trainingcourse on the topic “Emergency Pedagogy”. All and sudden, I was completely awake.

This was something I wanted to participate in for a long time. As I already knew the organisation “Friends of Waldorf Education”, I was even more interested. And so I applied. And luckily I got accepted to learn a lot about trauma, crisis situations and Traumatology as well as Emergency Pedagogy.

Every morning in Lisbon, as a beginning of the day, we stood together in the Morning Circle and played fingergames, sang, spoke a poem and started the day as one group. As I would learn later, this helps a lot to bring groups together, to identify as a group, everyone does the same, no matter where you come from, how smart you are or what language you speak. This might be very helpful in my work as a pediatric nurse in a mental healthcare hospital as well, because I often need to bring groups together, the youngsters and children have special life situations and often feel, they need to prove who they are. 

My favorite part of the training course were the speeches, held by Bernd Ruf, the founder of Emergency Pedagogy, who described the term Trauma as a wound of the soul. And also these wounds need first aid in a crisis situation. This is a “picture” that lasted in my mind for a long time. If the soul, that kind of connects the body, is hurt, how could children live a normal life when the balance between physical body and soul is disrupted? Back at work in the hospital, I looked even more differently at the children and youngsters. I know their past, but do I know where and how badly their souls got hurt?

What also surprised me is, that the “outcome” of the therapeutic intervention of trauma, is very different according to the childs protective- and risk factors. And this often has to do with social-economical factors and is about how the child was raised. How old is the child? What has he or she already experienced in life? How do the parents deal with the situation? So one could say, that the basis to overcome trauma is already different from child to child.

During my work as a pediatric nurse in the mental health care hospital, I work with many different disorders and clusters of symptomps; for me it was very interesting, that Bernd Ruf told us, that often after a trauma the biography of the affected child is kind of disrupted and the child might, as a result, behave auto-aggressive, suicidal or aggressive towards their environment. So I began to look at the behavior of my patients during a normal day on our ward – how were their reactions, how do they feel in the group, how were they able to endure their own disorders and the daily life with it.

As a result of our training course I learned that in our work, we need to include all senses to achieve balance physically, morally and with the soul. And I really think, that we experienced that in the training course as well by singing, painting, working with clay, by the physical exercises and listening to each other. If we train the outer balance, we are able to influence the inner balance. I want to create a safe place for my patients, a place where they can turn their life experience, that might content a traumatic event in the past, into a chance.

And by that chance, change their lives into something they feel safe within. Their own body and mind.

By Julia Neitzke

Letter to my friend - Training course about Emergency Pedagogy

My dear friend,

I’m writing you from Lisbon, more specifically from Bairro Padre Cruz, in Carnide, where I have just finished a training course on humanitarian action, on giving and receiving it, a course which really changed me inwardly and made me a better person.

Have you ever heard about Emergency Pedagogy? It was born in Germany in 2006, when its founder, Mr. Bernd Ruf (Waldorf teacher), had to follow the repatriation of 21 young Lebanese who were in Germany at that time. Lebanon lived in a war scenario provoked by the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, but the children's parents asked to bring them back home. In order to do it, a rigorous planning of his repatriation was made so that everything was carried out with security. It was this scenario that impelled Bern Ruf to create the Emergency Pedagogy.

Let me explain to you shortly what is it about. The main goal of this pedagogy is to act in situations of war and natural disasters by assisting emotionally injured children and youngsters to regain confidence in themselves, in other people, and in the world. The activities proposed are based on arts, music and rhythm games, inspired on Waldorf pedagogy, allowing the children to express themselves without being forced to speak. But the work also applies to the realities of countries affected by other types of situations. Imagine the situation we had two years ago with the forest fires that devastated the country. Hundreds of affected people needed urgent support in processing their experiences and memories ... Victims of emotional trauma are often (even more so in war scenarios) left behind, and this can have serious consequences. We don’t think a lot about these subjects because they seemed really distant, but they must be thought and discussed. We must prepare ourselves to act in these situations and provide help. We can think in concrete examples: thousands of refugees are arriving European countries in large numbers and we cannot even imagine the situations they had to deal with (not only in the past) to be here now. They don’t come with external wounds that require medical intervention, but what about the emotional wounds they carry inside? Who treats them? Who cares about?

During these eight days, that's what I did - thinking and studying trauma and soul wounds. I and another twenty-nine teachers, educators, social workers, psychologists, musicians, artists, translators... Each one from a different reality and a different context. Some came from Germany, Italy, Greece, or even from Romania, Spain, and Norway. What brought us together was much more than the fact that we all work with populations with a traumatic biographical history: migrants, refugees, homeless, or others. What brought us together was the conviction that a deeper awareness of a problem can help to overcome it. What brought us together was the confidence that the experiences exchange makes us richer and that at the end of this training course we can act more consciously and with more professionalism. The training course brought us together with the theoretical knowledge that we received directly from the founder of the pedagogy and the feelings promoted by the trainers who accompanied him and shared with us the long experience in this field. And, at the end of these days, at the end of more than 192 hours spent with these people, I can tell you, my dear friend, that we are joined by bonds of friendship that we will bring to life. Despite the hardness of the theme, I keep the sweet memory of the calm and warm voice of Julia Neitzke, (one of the German colleagues) with a song that does not stop in my head and stubbornly comes out of my lips:

Building bridges between our divisions, 
I reach out to you, will you reach out to me? 
With all of our voices and all of our visions, 
Friends, we could make such sweet harmony. 

A song that can bring serenity to the chaos. I hope to meet you soon to sing it for you too. With love, P.S.: I'll tell you about Ehmed too, and the other Syrian refugees that I met. Ahmed was part of the Portuguese team and shared with us his experience as a refugee living in Portugal. Another strong testimony about his difficult journey from Syria to Portugal, a beautiful history about resilience and strength that made me grow.

By Luciana Joana