Gargi Roysircar has developed a manual on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as related to disasters and on relevant psychosocial interventions for children and adults. Disaster Shakti student volunteers use information from this manual to discuss self-help with trauma survivors.
Sarajane Rodgers (2nd year PsyD student) developed an international study to look at sickle cell disease (SCD) symptomatology. Because of the nature of SCD, much of the research focuses on more obvious symptoms, such as intense pain that often comes with the disease. Sarajane’s project was to investigate how sickle cell disease (SCD) affects attention, emotional regulation, and sleep. These symptoms have been noted in those who have SCD but the nature of these deficits is not clearly documented.
Sarajane planned a trip with Dr. Gargi Roysircar to Blanchard, Haiti, to do psychological assessment of patients with SCD in a primary care setting, Partners in Development (PID). PID collaborates with the MC Center for mental health assessment and services in Haiti. The SCD assessment battery was administered to 22 patients. Along with the research, Dr. Roysircar and Disaster Shakti students provided trauma counseling to children, their families, and community adults. They also created a psychoeducation workshop on stress management for SCD patients.
Promoting change through collaboration
Dr. Roysircar, Professor of Clinical Psychology at Antioch University New England, along with a team of psychology graduate students consulted with and trained counselors and mentors in Chennai, India, in recognizing signs of stress related to disaster experiences. Specific psychological approaches with orphaned children and adults who have lost families were addressed. The team taught local support staff about biopsychosocial risk factors that, if left unattended, could lead to serious health concerns. Learn more about our work in Chennai.
On June 15th, 2010, Disaster Shakti volunteers joined Partners in Development of Massachusetts and the Haitian American Student Association of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to do earthquake relief work in Haiti. From within this collaborative group, we spent one week aiding relief efforts as well as connecting with local organizations and other relief workers to develop long-term Disaster Shakti recovery efforts in Haiti. Translators assisted in our psychological aid work. Additionally, Disaster Shakti was joined by Pastor Nate Manderson, a staff member at UMass Dartmouth, who has traveled to Haiti for several years and served as our consultant on matters of culture, religion, spirituality, and politics of Haitian people.
In November 2007, Tabasco, Mexico was struck by massive flooding, leaving thousands without homes and jobs. Most of the state remained under water for some time, which destroyed agricultural sites, industrial facilities, and residences. According to the BBC, Tabasco Governor Andres Granier has reported that more than 1 million residents have been affected by this disaster. Learn more about our work in Tabasco, Mexico
Through their 21-day outreach in Southern Africa, members of Disaster Shakti, together with other students, faculty, and mental health professionals from the University of Florida, University of Missouri – St. Louis, Mississippi State University, and Governor’s State University, Chicago, as well as a retired fire fighter from New York City, began to unpack the sociopolitical history that underlies South Africa’s forgiveness of apartheid and its people’s resilience and fortitude to bring relief to poverty and to HIV/AIDS -infected and -affected mothers and children.
Their trip began in Cape Town where they came in direct connection with South Africa’s beautiful landscape and painful past and present. In Cape Town, they spent time with the Philani Nutrition Project, a women’s empowerment group and its day care center. In Soweto, at the Care Project, they trained volunteers involved in community work with children and also provided emotional and psychosocial support to orphans. Again in Soweto, they interacted with community counselors and social workers at an outreach post of the Parents and Children’s Counseling Center.
In Cape Town and Johannesburg, they engaged in dialogues with university health officials about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and their very impressive efforts to provide resources and support for college students. In Johannesburg, they attended the AMCD International Conference entitled, Extending Advocacy: Global Outreach, Critical Consciousness, and Praxis where Dr. Gargi Roysircar was the keynote speaker. In Gabarone, Botswana, Disaster Shakti and their partners did outreach in a crisis center, called the Life Line Ekuphileni Counseling Center, a women’s shelter, and in elementary, middle, and high schools. At the University of Botswana, they formed lasting relationships with faculty, students, librarians, and counseling center professionals.
In March 2006 during the spring break, Disaster Shakti engaged in volunteer outreach in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Pass Christian, Mississippi, cites that were destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They volunteered with grassroots organizations, Commonground Collective and the Nechama-Jewish Response to Disaster, gutting houses, doing clean-ups, and serving women and children in a women’s shelter. Disaster Shakti collaborated with New Orleans mental health and human resources staff to do six-month debriefing with the staff of a hotel.
In August 2006, Disaster Shakti conducted a successful school supply drive at Antioch University New England for New Orleans school children. They delivered these supplies to Nelson Charter Middle School, where they volunteered for three days. Disaster Shakti volunteers helped teachers to set up their classes and listened to teachers’ stories about their flight, return, and housing difficulties. They phone banked to identify students who would return to school and who would not. They provided handouts to teachers and parents that carried information on children’s stress responses and on play interventions with children that can be carried out by non-professionals. Disaster Shakti did a one-year anniversary review of Katrina recovery experiences with the staff of a hotel.
In order to expand Disaster Shakti’s hurricane recovery outreach, Gargi Roysircar has initiated partnerships with the counselor education programs in University of Florida and University of New Orleans. At the conference of the American Psychological Association in New Orleans in August 2006, Gargi Roysircar held a meeting to discuss the formation of a volunteer organization, called Counselors and Psychologists for National and International Disasters (CPNID). At this APA conference, Gargi Roysircar and Disaster Shakti held a symposium, entitled, Disaster responses around the world: Social justice efforts.
Hurricane Katrina’s Anniversary (PDF 26K)