An interview with Fr. Makario, (Trauma)
Taken: 6 August 1998
The trauma cases here in Aitape for the victims of the tsunami is really enormous. Enormous because of the amount of people that died and amount of wounded people they have lost so much
I have gone into Pou care centers and to and my trip to day in Malol looking at people in hospital talking to students counseling .
I find that there are a lot of people that are still shocked. Although its after two weeks this is the initial face of trauma which is normal in that sense that - initial face of trauma or intuasive step begins from two weeks and last from two weeks until eight weeks.
And in that time they have flash backs, and they have memory recall of what is happening, the fear hypertension, stutle reaction, this are happening and its going to come to them realize as they go along what is happening and what has happened.
A lot of people still cannot come to terms with the great loss and others who have lost their mothers, parents . Wives. these are still dazed still shocked.
When I talk to them and when the counselors go out. they are still very depressed. And with the depression there is a lot of weakness, they are not thinking properly they are not in the conditions to think for themselves, they are passive they are just waiting for people to help them.
They are not ready yet to be on their feet
I'm particularly worried abut various symptoms that are coming up now. For example the guilt. there are some who feel guilty that they are alive they think that they should be dead with the dead. They shouldn't be alive. And because of that there is enormous guilt in them.
now the danger, psychology there will be a tendency of suicidal syndrome.
They will turn to think that they should be dead also and if they believe so strongly they will commit suicide.
I have made are of this to the people who are working in the centers to find out the symptoms and find out if any are prone to suicidal. to let us know immediately.
Yesterday, I began the first training in care In care centers they found out that they are not prepared and skilled to deal with such a disastrous event. So after yesterday, I gave them a kit to all the people that go out to be able to adapt more and help more.
I'm concern with the students. the students are from Arop, Sissano, those who have their properties destroyed they came to school know but they are shocked and the shock is still there, intellectually there is no energy, physically they are very depressed and drained .
When I say I'm concern because in one week time or two weeks time, there is national exam and this students are not in conditions to sit for exams. They should be given some time off, but unfortunately pressure of exams again adds to the pressure that develops the trauma.
I went into care centers, everything is done to (get rid off) frustration and try to care for them is excellent. But realistically it is not really happening to cool down the frustration, instead it might develop irritability tension and will lead to anger and when anger comes it will also develop again recurrence trauma experience.
So we talked about this yesterday and they are trying to take away the more frustration goes the better.
I am concern about the kids, the children when we got off they smiled but I could see loss confusion the pain in them some are said and withdraws . Yesterday I drew at he workshop to the way to
The way to help children is to help them draw their experience . Let them explain their drawing, they will put this experience better into drawing. Than telling the stories . So what I'm doing at the moment is to bring attention of the children I know that I'm the one that is qualified to talk about trauma and treat trauma.
There are so many people in the care centers so we need to help to be able to help all this people to come up to a level they can deal effectively with this.
I'm happy yesterday that two Bougainvillians came Lina and Francis they will be very helpful in training others which starts on Monday. Training how children, (react, and express to trauma and for the adults to understand their organized behavior Some times very aggressive.
In this case, the loss of children who will become jealous of other children because they do not have their parents, others have parents this will come eventually I think. the thing to do is make them aware so that people can look to this symptoms.
The other interesting thing I found working with the mothers or just talking to them this time we are training other women just to look at other women's problems s many mothers suffer when they see other children carry their babies because is constantly reminds them of their lost babies. At the moment, they can't handle it So what they do it stay in the tenth or withdraw from the crowd and when people begin to ask them to tell their stories its so painful they just clump up or withdraw in trauma counseling its they avoid the topic because it is too painful
So we need to look at the mothers who have lost their children in a very delicate manner.
The other aspects in the care centers to they to try to meet this huge demand for trauma counseling. the workshop consists of understanding what trauma is the symptoms of trauma physical and intellectual some have very deep , strong emotional reaction.. so much they tremble
No human can be immune to this sort of thing they will be affected when they see broken limbs, dead bodies and here in Aitape. they just heap bodies. up in mass graves carrying them . They have nightmares.
So there are two waves of trauma, the primary one is the direct effect and the people coming in to help . So we try to explain to them the mystery is taken away.
So during orientation, preparing people to go into the care center, we explain from physical, the mental effects, physical effects, night mares, reactions, depression for them to understand its and overview.
The authorities. Thought that it is appropriate to have a permanent group to work with trauma because I'm only here for three weeks (he goes on to talk about his training program
The ideal of training is to understand trauma how to react to it, how to counsel Trauma victims and as much general knowledge as possible when I did my training it took five year. This people will do it in four days, which is very short and concentrated.
We hope that in the distant future to help them develop this
At the moment, I'm dealing with two sorts of trauma The direct trauma, the victims and the second or the trauma for those who go in to give care. And they also face nightmares, dreams, they also experience. Sorrow sadness and I hop that we don't short-circuit the treatment.
We must allow grieving process we must allow them to go through their sadness to break dawn and cry that is normal. We must allow short circuit by saying that its OK.
Ultimately. themourning ceremony shall be done because all this people.. who lost a relative some are .. there is a question in their mind a false hope I guess that their love ones are still living now this can be surprised . Untill they come to express their sorrow openly And it should be done in a ritual and the Aitape people are very rich with customs and rituals and I hope it will be encouraged because it is with healing process that some day they will really move them. They will break down then relief will come unless that is done. it will be surprised and when this is done it will constantly . Dreams/ flashbacks. and we hope treat this
How long to treat this gradually not so sudden because we will short-circuit the healing.