On Sunday May 8 we celebrated with the first group of Health & Cultural Ambassadors (HCAs) who completed their 4-day training. The HCA program is based on a community mental health model developed by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontiers, MSF). This community-based program trains volunteers to assess and offer initial mental health and psycho-educational support to members of the community. As a model built on existing community resources, this program can enable communities to respond to significant levels of trauma and acute stress.The Ambassadors provide supportive counselling, conduct debriefs with entire communities or with family groups. They are also able to make referrals when necessary. These Ambassadors are now ready to respond to requests for support from victims of the war in Ukraine as well as crises elsewhere in the world.
Grace Lore, MLA for Victoria Beacon Hill joined the celebrations and presented certificates to the graduating Ambassadors. We would like to express our gratitude to the donors to the Times Colonist Christmas Fund who provided a grant to support the training and the ongoing implementation of the HCA program. We were delighted to welcome Jack Knox from the Times Colonist to the VICCIR office to present the cheque to (from left to right) Adrienne Carter, VICCIR Director of Services, Abeer Smadi, Social & Community Services Worker, and Ana Pavon, Staff Counsellor, the team who facilitated the training.
There are many others to thank for their contribution to this training. We received donations of food and a gift bag for each participant from the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre (MCFR). The Country Grocer in Esquimalt and the Market on Millstream also generously donated food. Phil Rossner of WAM Media Production was our patient videographer and all-round tech support. Thanks also to the following VICCIR staff and volunteers for all their support - Ana Escalante, Latifa, Zoreh, Martin, Anissa, Behni.