James Madison University

Local Counselors Co-Led Middle East Program for Landmine Survivors

This May, Anne Stewart and Lennie Echterling were two leaders of a seven-day intensive training program for survivors of landmines. They helped to develop and implement “Pathways to Resilience” (P2R), which took place near Beirut under the sponsorship of the U.S. State Department and the Lebanese Mine Action Center.  The 29 participants, most of whom were amputees, came from Kurdistan, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon.

The purpose of the program was to train these survivors in helping and leadership skills in order for them to return to their home communities, where they could promote resilience in peer-to-peer projects. The intensive schedule involved experiential learning, play- based activities, role-plays, improvisations, and other exercises designed to promote posttraumatic growth.

The feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive. More significantly, the majority of participants also reported that they had experienced posttraumatic growth (PTG) in dramatic ways.  Both Anne and Lennie found the week to be a transformative experience that they hope to repeat in other landmine-invested areas.  Although most of the participants spoke Arabic, Anne and Lennie quickly discovered that they did not need a translator to appreciate their strengths.   They may have been missing hands, arms, feet and legs, but their hearts were clearly present through their courage, compassion, hope and joy.

For more information about P2R, you can contact Anne at stewaral@jmu.edu or Lennie at echterlg@jmu.edu.