Home Society “Memory Books” To Be Used In Dealing with Depression Among Children

“Memory Books” To Be Used In Dealing with Depression Among Children

by Daniel Sabiiti
4:18 pm

Memory Books for Children International has deployed the first group of youth volunteers who will support Rwandan children to deal with depression and trauma through documenting their life stories.

The volunteers program was inaugurated this May 26, 2024 in collaboration with Equip Restoring Multiplying (ERM)-a local children’s support organization after trainees acquiring basic counselling skills which they will use to help children and teens in memory book clubs to write their stories in a specialized personal memory book.

Memory Books for Children International is a non-profit organization founded by Tamara Faris (the Author of a children’s book-I am Chosen, as well as Memory Books Training Manual & Lesson Planner)- that gifts disadvantaged and vulnerable children from all around the world with Memory Books and Memory Book Clubs.

Memory Books are interactive booklets containing 50 pages, a pen/glue stick, and elastic closure designed to help a child tell their personal life story using words, drawings, poetry, and song.

“The booklets invite a child to tell their story of loss, grieve the losses of people and things dear to them, and discover their special role in God’s greater story.” said Pastor Emmanuel Sitaki Kainamura, the ERM legal representative – an implementing partner of Memory Books for Children- Rwanda program.

“The youth volunteers will work within Memory Book Clubs to encourage the children to share their stories with other children through storytelling, art, crafts, and drama,” Kainamura added.

This initiative comes at a time when statistics show that mental health is a concern that needs to be addressed in Rwanda especially among youths.

The 2018 Rwanda Mental Health Survey found that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is eight-fold more prevalent among Genocide survivors compared to the general population (27.9% vs 3.6%).

While research by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre on shows that mental disorders among youth aged 14—18 years are at 10.2% largely caused by family conflict, historical aspects and drug abuse.

Kainamura said that the Memory Book Clubs are coming to address issues of mental health and especially depression among children and youth, where the volunteers will directly work with and support the youths to deal with their life challenges.

“This initiative will have to be expanded in order to have an impact countrywide. We will need to work with other religious organizations and also engage the national youth volunteer program,” Kainamura explained.

Chadia Niyisengwa, one of the trained memory book club volunteers said that the training was also helpful for her as a youth who undergoes the same causes of depression as many others.

“As a person who faces the challenges of dealing with depression, I find this program to be vital in noting the experiences so as to make the first steps of healing, before seeking any help from peers at the clubs,” Niyisengwa said.

Jerome Muremangingo, the Country Coordinator, Memory Books for Children- Rwanda program said that community volunteers like Niyisengwa will be tasked to also reach families with issues of depression and support them in the gatherings at the churches and community level so as to create impact among parents and their children.

Pascaline Ineza Mutungiye, a mother of seven children including one she picked off the streets four years ago says that the program will enable her adopted girl child to record her feelings of pain and anguish based on her adoption history.

“I will record what happened to her so that she may come into terms with the reality that she was abandoned and adopted by another mother. The memory book will be who she is and she can become a better person,” Mutungiye said.

Mutungiye asked that mothers should be the primary targeted beneficiaries of the memory book clubs to enable them support their children.

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