This morning I paid a visit to our neighbours in City of Hope school, along with some representatives of John Hopkins University who are funding a study and counsellor training on Cognitive Based Therapy (CBT). City of Hope was founded, as Sr Richarda: a Polish Salesian Sister, tells us ‘under a tree, about 20 years ago!’. Today it plays host to over 750 pupils and 45 resident girls, who have been placed here out of abusive homes. It is a remarkable place. As you enter you are greeted by lines of children, in neatly pressed uniforms and sparkling white shirts, making their way along the dirty road to class. The classroom as traditional circular rooms mirroring many of the builds you see in the local villages.
The school has excellent facilities, is very well maintained and, in keeping with anything run by Sisters, is spotlessly clean. The offer classes up to grade 9 (Junior Cert Level) and hope to extend this to grade 12(Leaving Cert Level) when the new school building is complete. In additional are skills programmes in catering, tailoring and design. They have a very well appointed computer room and teach basic skills. The accommodation for the girls is simple but clean and in excellent condition.
I see a number of white faces darting around the grounds and the Sisters tell me that the school is very popular with international volunteers. I met two, a young man from Germany who was teaching computers and another European teaching French. There is a very peaceful atmosphere in City of Hope, children played games, two young girls platted the blond locks of a German volunteer and there was a lot of smiles and laughter. This seemed to be one school children where happy going to.
The residential students have been placed in City of Hope by the Ministry of Social Welfare who have removed them from dangerous and violent home situations. These girls have had a very difficult time to now and suffered trauma we, most possibly, can’t imagine. But here is a refuge for them, they are given a chance of forming a good life and one sister tells us of the first City of Hope weddings they had last year. From humble beginnings, literally in the middle of a field, has grown a vibrant, colourful, hope filled place whose motto is ‘joy, love and hard work’…all three elements are evident in abundance.
SHARPZ (the project I am working with) along with JHU will be introducing a programme of Trauma Focused CBT to City of Hope. Counsellors will assess children and provide CBT to help those whose lives have been affected by trauma of one kind or another. I have attached the link to the City of Hope website which has buckets more information and some great photos.