Disaster Relief Resources for your family, church, small group, and more
On May 22, 2021, Mt. Nyiragongo erupted outside of Goma, Congo, killing many, destroying homes, and displacing thousands
The city of Goma in DR Congo experienced an unthinkable tragedy when Mt. Nyiragongo erupted and lava flowed into the city displacing 400,000+ (*regular updates on that here). Children and families in Exile International’s programs were affected by the eruption – many families returned to find their homes leveled by lava or looted of all their possessions. In the days to follow, earthquakes were frequent (100’s per day). We followed the news hourly as scientists in the area warned a second eruption was likely – thankfully there was no second eruption.
As you can imagine, the trauma of the eruption and aftermath (both physical and emotional) to follow has been significant for staff and the war-affected (already traumatized) youth in Exile’s programs. In response to this, and to help in the healing journey of all affected, trained counselors at Exile have created and gathered outside disaster relief trauma resources to assist with emotional regulation and recovery of this natural disaster. Exile’s mission is to provide trauma care for child survivors of war, and while these resources may stray from the “norm” of our programs, we remain committed to providing the best trauma care possible – whatever the circumstance.
Exile’s Grounding & Self-Soothing Techniques
Senses you can notice
(Use when feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, etc.)
- Notice something around you that you can see that makes you feel good inside
- Notice something around you that you can smell that makes you feel good inside
- Notice something around you that you can hear that makes you feel good inside
- Notice something around you that you can touch that makes you feel good inside
- Notice something around you that you can taste that makes you feel good inside
Breathing in peace
- Picture Jesus or God sitting beside you. Maybe imagine they are holding you in an embrace or maybe you are laying with your head in their lap. If you are sitting next to someone you love and trust, you can hold their hand — imagining God’s hand holding yours.
- When you can imagine yourself resting next to Jesus or God, you can begin breathing. Imagine breathing in the peace and healing of God. Imagine breathing out fear and trauma.
- Breathe in for 5 seconds as slowly as you can.
- Hold it.
- Breath out for 5 seconds as slow as you can
- Do these 4 times.
Choose which prayer helps you feel good and peaceful.
- Breathe in and tell yourself, “I am safe. I am loved.” Breathe out and tell yourself, “I am in the arms of God.”
- Breathe in and tell yourself, “I am breathing in peace and healing.” Breathe out and tell yourself, “I am breathing out fear and trauma.”
- Breathe in silently. Breathe out and tell yourself, “I am resting in the arms of Jesus.”
Grounding like a tree
- Sit in a chair
- Put your feet firmly on the ground (these are your roots)
- Put one hand (tree limb) over your heart
- Put one (tree limb) on the top of your head
- Breathe in and out slowly as you imagine a warm rain (Jesus) falling over you — washing away your fear and trauma.
- Try to imagine hearing His voice saying to you, “You are ok. You are being held. I am healing your heart.”
- Breathe in and out as slowly as you can as you imagine the sun (God) filling you with His peace.
- Try to imagine hearing his voice saying to you, “You are safe. You are loved. You are resting in my arms. Do not be afraid.”
Activity: Taking your thoughts captive
Many times, when we have gone through trauma, our thoughts feel jumbled. They feel like they are going very fast through our heads and our bodies do not feel grounded.
Find a scripture or proverb that helps you feel centered and grounded in God — like a rock or an anchor. Write down that scripture or proverb in a place you can read it many times a day. Perhaps memorize it and tell it to yourself many times a day.
Rhythms and routines
Rhythms and routines are very important and helpful to our brains as we are recovering from a traumatic experience:
- Create a morning routine and rhythm. The routine can be very simple and short. Do the same thing each morning. Some examples: (1) Go to bed at the same time each night and turn off the ringer on your phone. (2) Wake up at the same time each morning. (3) Do 2 minutes of deep breathing and tell yourself the same thing each morning (For example, “I am safe. I am loved. God is my rock and my fortress. I can rest in His arms. He is my healer.” (4) Make a cup of tea or drink a glass of water. (5) Read the same Bible verses that help you feel safe and grounded — maybe a few scriptures that help you in your healing journey. (6) Go for a walk or do some exercises (7) Have a time of prayer before you begin your day.
- Create an evening routine and rhythm: The routine can be very simple and short. Do the same thing each morning. Some examples: (1) Do some deep breathing exercises or The Welcome Prayer (2) Read a Bible verse that helps you feel grounded and centered. (3) End your day in prayer.
Beyond Disaster: from the Trauma Healing Institute
The Beyond Disaster program from our partners at the Trauma Healing Institute provides materials to help people recover from natural and man-made disasters. The program integrates best practices in mental health into a biblical framework. Currently, resources are offered in several languages.
Resources for survivors:
Beyond Disaster is a guide for spiritual first aid for people who have survived natural or human-caused disasters. It can be distributed any time following a disaster but is most beneficial once the initial shock has passed. The booklet offers (1) strategies to help people cope in the short term, (2) guidance on what to expect during the process of recovery, and (3) resources to begin a journey toward emotional and spiritual healing. Based on the globally proven model of the Trauma Healing Institute, this booklet integrates best practices in mental health into a biblical framework.
Download free PDF copies from the links below:
Resources for small groups and caregivers:
This resource is a guide for using the Beyond Disaster booklet with small groups, which is a recommended way of encountering the material. This 9-page document includes some background, ideas for leading a group, and tips on facilitating discussion on the booklet. No professional training is required. This resource offers additional support to leaders who may feel unprepared to address the effects of trauma.
Resources for churches:
Beyond Trauma: A Catholic Guide for Spiritual First Aid, is a booklet for use by Roman Catholic parishes and dioceses as they serve people with trauma. An adaptation of Beyond Disaster, it includes additional resources and recommendations from the Catholic spiritual tradition.
Resources for teens:
UNSTUCK helps teens cope during times of uncertainty, especially after a disaster. The materials are written for teens to go through on their own and at their own pace. Teens will also benefit by working through the resource with an adult leader, either one-on-one or in small groups over four weeks. Part of the Beyond Disaster suite of resources, this material can be used on its own or paired with material for adults and children. It draws from the Trauma Healing Institute curriculum for teens.
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