• Survival, Healing and Resilience at “Women, Not Victims” on March 13, 2016

    One of the sessions at “Women, Not Victims: Moving Beyond Sexualized Atrocities During Genocide” on Sunday, March 13, 2016, at Nassau Community College, CCB Building, Multi-purpose Room, will feature Ushuuda Prosperine, a Survivor of the genocide in the Congo, and her adopted mother, Dr. Holly K. Shaw, Ph.D., RN. Ms. Prosperine will discuss “Enduring the Unimaginable: A Survivor’s Testimony of Survival, Healing and Resilience” and Dr. Shaw will talk about “Bearing Witness: A Companion to Survival, Healing and Resilience.”

    Ms. Prosperine is a resilience Survivor of multiple atrocities resulting in severe physical and emotional wounds. As an innocent, aspiring adolescent living in a stable, predictable, family-oriented life she was guided by clear family roles and expectations, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, when after months of tribal genocide, conflict, and armed warfare, she was abducted by terrorists and thrust into a new life dominated by terror, isolation and despair. She became a victim and witness to torture, mutilation and murder until escaping to Uganda where she experienced persistent homelessness, multiple hospitalizations, abandonment by friends, illness, and the harsh indifference, corruption and cruelty by public and government officials. From dutiful daughter, sister and student, she became an orphaned, single mother of three, a refugee in an IDP (refugee) camp with scarce resources and opportunities.

    The testimony by Ms. Prosperine is one of faith, resilience, hope and triumph, as well as expertise in transcending the most formidable obstacles and challenges. Her keen insight and astute observations shed light on traversing a pathway from darkness and despair to self-sufficiency as a pastor, wife and mother. Her journey as a young mother from a refugee camp to the United States by way of migration facilitated by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees is inspirational for all who endeavor to thrive amidst great adversity and for their advocates offering support and assistance.

    Mass rape campaigns and sexual exploitation during times of war, conflict and genocide have resulted in estimated tens of thousands of children born in the last decades, with little or no social or international provisions. Their mothers do not have the benefit of intergenerational and traditional child bearing/rearing support, in addition to being subjected to assault, sexual exploitation and servitude. The children, as well as their mothers, may be deeply affected by ongoing issues related to living in chaos and danger.

    As a clinician, educator and consultant, Dr. Shaw welcomed the opportunity to be included in Ms. Properine’s healing. However, professional pedagogic education and clinical acumen were neither helpful nor sufficient for the challenges of sharing this journey with her adopted daughter and grandson. Dr. Shaw’s presentation will include lessons learned and crucial touch points in their remarkable, multidimensional relationship. Dr. Shaw will elucidate the complexities of traumatic survival and the challenges of constructing a new, developmentally appropriate narrative for Survivors and children that appropriately acknowledges their experience and honors the legacy of survivorship. Applicable to contemporary unprecedented refugee experiences in the U.S., Europe and Middle East, Dr. Shaw will also address chronic health care issues and co-morbidities exacerbated during stress, as well as the social upheavals and cultural disruption of migration. Expanding coping and self-care repertoires, mentorship, guidance, community affiliation, family support and refugee assistance can enhance optimal adjustment and future well being.

    A complete listing of sessions and speakers can be found on the “Women, Not Victims” website. Registration is free but space is limited so please register in advance to Deborah Lom, (516) 571-8040 or dlom@hmtcli.org or online.

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