Kashmir: People traumatized by decades of violence
October 6, 2010
MSF counsellor Madina Bukhari works in Kupwara district, where for years the population suffered the consequences of the ongoing Kashmir conflict. Most of the people she counsels are direct victims of this violence who suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress.
“I’ve had women telling me how they were having dinner with their families when someone burst in and shot their husband in front of their eyes. Others have lost family members or witnessed violence. Some of the youth were tortured. All these memories are often very vivid in their minds.”
Madina finds it rewarding to aid in the recovery of fellow Kashmiris. Many of the people she counsels report feeling better afterwards. “Counselling helps them live in the present and shows them how the present can be better than the past. We encourage them to take part in their community’s activities, which can help get them back on track and get on with their lives.”
Gulam suffered from depression for years before being referred to MSF. He endured headaches, sleep disturbances and memory loss, and was lonely, withdrawn and unable to work. Counselling helped him get his life back on track.
“Since I’ve seen a counselor, I’ve made so much progress. I started by writing about my emotions regularly and it helped to be able to express them. Now I’m reading and writing a lot, I can concentrate very well and I’d like to continue studying and improve my education. I know I can do it now.”
MSF’s mental health program in Kashmir carried out more than 5,800 consultations in 2009.