PTR African Communities Liaison, Jean Pierre Ndagijimana, is a Rwandan psychologist born in the Congo. In a recent piece published by Global Campaign for Peace Education, Ndagijimana shares why COVID-19 is particularly challenging for people who have experienced historical trauma.
Ndagijimana explains that the idea of a communal threat is not new to people with historical trauma. He states,
“The currently encouraged ‘compulsive handwashing’ is not far from the compulsion around checking one’s door, not trusting that it is completely locked before going to bed. For some, this is not the first time that leaving home could result in dying sooner rather than later. The experiences of cautiously looking through windows to find nearly empty streets, with the people you do see outside perceived to be a threat. These are embodied stories that our brain-bodies have stored for our future survival.”
While the collective fear of this moment may trigger memories of past experiences for people who have survived mass insecurity, these past experiences can also provide important teachings applicable to the current environment. Ndagiimana offers practical steps we can all take to move with greater ease through COVID-19.