Healing Retreats & Specialized Group Programs
To support our recipients in the longer term, we organize retreats and support workshops for special groups of immigrants facing similar challenges after tragedy. These retreats provide comfort, coping tools, respite, and help create a sense of community. Trained facilitators, trauma counselors, and youth guides plan and lead the programs. Participants repeatedly tell us that these gatherings, and the important relationships they forge there, give them strength, thereby slowly helping them to regain a sense of hope.
Healing Retreats for Orphaned Sibling-Headed Families of Ethiopian Origin:
Selah holds healing retreats for sibling-headed families of Ethiopian origin, where older siblings are raising their orphaned younger brothers and sisters. Held in safe, beautiful settings, with trips to historical and natural sites and recreational activities, the families have much-needed respite from everyday stresses and challenges, while connecting with others who understand their loss and pain.
The younger siblings participate in a broad range of recreational activities, which in addition to being fun, also provide the chance to share stories of their loss and their fear in a supportive environment. The older siblings participate in intensive peer support workshops, facilitated by Selah professionals. In the group meetings, the older siblings share their experiences, their pain, and challenges, as well as their aspirations and dreams. They learn coping mechanisms and explore ways in which it is possible to pursue their own personal goals, even while raising the children. The peer support groups are a touchstone of Selah retreats, with strong relationships forming between the participants that often continue beyond the days of the retreat. Participants on a recent healing retreat even stay in touch on a What’sApp text group!
Support Group for Grandparents Raising Their Orphaned Grandchildren:
For an immigrant grandparent, assuming primary responsibility for a grandchild can be overwhelmingly difficult. Shattered by their own profound loss, uprooted and trying to reorganize their lives in a new country, the bereaved grandparents struggle to find the emotional and physical strength to cope with their grief while simultaneously caring for their orphaned grandchildren.
In an effort to provide relief and guidance, Selah trauma experts hold bi-monthly meetings, facilitated by a psychiatrist, for grandparents raising orphaned grandchildren. The meetings are set in a warm environment and provide a continuous network of support. There, grandparents discuss new coping and problem-solving mechanisms and learn how to more easily navigate the challenging bureaucratic processes they often face alone. Through these meetings, we at Selah have learned about the therapeutic importance of bringing the struggling grandparents together to mitigate their sense of loneliness and isolation that advancing age, bereavement and the responsibility of raising the children can often foster.
Healing Retreats for Bereaved Immigrant Families:
Families come from all over the country for our healing retreats for bereaved families – some from the south who suffered direct hits and injuries during extended rocket attacks; people who lost beloved relatives in battle; and those wounded or left bereaved in previous rocket barrages. The groups also include families who recently lost loved ones to terror, accidents, and illness – and they are each accompanied by the Selah caregivers who were with them during the initial stages of the crisis.
Though they come from north, center and south, have suffered different traumas, and are for the most part strangers, the participants share a deep need to connect and ease some of their constant burden in a community of peers. The group tours together, celebrates Shabbat, and attends on-site archeological seminars. While the children explore and play with youth guides, the adults participate in support workshops facilitated by trauma professionals, in Russian, Amharic, Hebrew, or other, as appropriate. For many, this is the heart of the seminar – offering a safe and culture-sensitive setting for people to share their pain and their struggle to cope and find meaning, even while bearing loss and trauma. The sessions are always difficult and intense, but provide new perspective and some hope to people living in an almost constant state of trauma.