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Nepal: families of missing persons receive psychosocial support

29-08-2012 Interview

Nepal’s 10-year internal conflict ended in 2006, but well over 1000 people are still missing. In 2010, the ICRC launched "Hateymalo," which means “join hands together.” The Hateymalo programme helps families of missing persons cope with the ambiguity of their loss by giving them psychological, socio-cultural, economic, and legal/administrative support. Project leader Yubaraj Adhikari explains.

What is psychosocial support?

Psychosocial support is about helping the survivors of a disaster or crisis to resume their regular lives. It emphasizes the connection between our psychological needs related to our experiences (our thoughts, emotions and behaviour) on the one hand and our wider social experience (our relationships, interactions with others, integration within a community, tradition and culture) on the other.

Why was it important to launch this programme in Nepal?

No other organization was trying to alleviate the psychosocial suffering that families of missing persons endure. The ICRC knows how complex their needs are, because we have been working in this field for many years, not only in Nepal but all over the world.

How is the programme implemented and what are the perspectives?

Helping families in a diverse sociocultural context is not easy. We’re running Hateymalo in partnership with local NGOs familiar with the situation. Their role is mainly to facilitate activities. In turn, the various activities are aimed at alleviating psychological suffering, economic hardship, stigma and discrimination, and helping people surmount administrative and legal obstacles.

In addition, partner organizations have set up a solidarity network and have pooled their resources. This solidarity network has enabled over 700 families of missing persons in 16 districts to obtain support so far, and the ICRC plans to expand the programme to cover another 25 districts by 2013, reaching 550 more families.

What is a solidarity network and why is it needed?

The families of missing persons face a whole range of widely disparate problems; socio-cultural, economic, legal, mental health, and so on. No single organization can cover all these topics, however resourceful it may be. The only way to help the families effectively is to channel the resources of multiple agencies. Hateymalo has therefore established an extensive network of local and national agencies to support the families.

The solidarity network consists of Heifer International, the Helvetas Employment Fund, CTEVT – Skills for Employment Project, the Center for Mental Health and Counselling, the Mental Hospital, Lagankhel (Kathmandu) and Sahakarmi Samaj (Banke).


Photos

Yubaraj Adhikari 

Yubaraj Adhikari
© ICRC

Mahadevpuri-5, Banke district, Nepal. A family support group discusses activities with ICRC staff. 

Mahadevpuri-5, Banke district, Nepal. A family support group discusses activities with ICRC staff. The Hateymalo programme includes support groups, consisting of the wives and mothers of missing persons. They meet every fortnight to share feelings and experiences.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha / v-p-np-e-00245

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral receives a souvenir painting from accompaniers and members of a support group during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons built in memory of their relatives. 

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral receives a souvenir painting from accompaniers and members of a support group during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons built in memory of their relatives.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. Accompaniers, members of a support group and ICRC staff pose for a group photo during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons have built in memory of their relatives. 

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. Accompaniers, members of a support group and ICRC staff pose for a group photo during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons have built in memory of their relatives.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral and Mahila Upakar Munch vice president Bijula Adhikari during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons have built in memory of their relatives. 

Rajhena, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral and Mahila Upakar Munch vice president Bijula Adhikari during a ceremony to inaugurate a Chautari (resting place) that the families of missing persons have built in memory of their relatives.
© ICRC

Gulariya, Bardia district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral hands over a certificate of appreciation to Tharu Women Upliftment Center president Lilawati Tharu. 

Gulariya, Bardia district, Nepal. ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral hands over a certificate of appreciation to Tharu Women Upliftment Center president Lilawati Tharu during the handover of a psychosocial support programme from the ICRC to a self-help support group.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Gulariya, Bardia district, Nepal. Members of a support group sing a song during a psychosocial support programme handover event. The songs relate the suffering faced by the families of missing persons. 

Gulariya, Bardia district, Nepal. Members of a support group sing a song during a psychosocial support programme handover event. The songs relate the suffering faced by the families of missing persons.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Gulariya, Bardiya district, Nepal. The mother of a missing person becomes emotional as she talks to ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral during a programme handover event. 

Gulariya, Bardiya district, Nepal. The mother of a missing person becomes emotional as she talks to ICRC head of delegation Sylvie Thoral during a programme handover event.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Samsergunj, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC staff visit the wife of a missing person who has recently received a goat under a Hateymalo programme. 

Samsergunj, Banke district, Nepal. ICRC programme manager Yubaraj Adhikari and communication delegate Valery Mbaoh Nana visit the wife of a missing person. She has recently received a goat under a Hateymalo programme. When the goat gives birth to her first kids, she will pass one of the females on to another vulnerable family in the same community, as part of the 'passing the gift' programme.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha / v-p-np-e-00244

Samsergunj, Banke district, Nepal. A beneficiary of the Hateymalo programme poses with the nanny-goat she recently received.  

Samsergunj, Banke district, Nepal. A beneficiary of the Hateymalo programme poses with the nanny-goat she recently received. When the goat gives birth to her first kids, she will pass one of the females on to another vulnerable family in the same community, as part of the 'passing the gift' programme.
© ICRC / N. Shrestha

Bhandara, Chitwan district, Nepal. A father points to his son's name engraved on a memorial gate built by families in memory of their missing relatives. 

Bhandara, Chitwan district, Nepal. A father points to his son's name engraved on a memorial gate built by families in memory of their missing relatives.
© ICRC / v-p-np-e-00243