More than one billion people have been affected by violence and disasters around the world. Every day, people affected by a crisis have to make decisions about how to use the skills and resources available to them to best meet their emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. Often there are not enough pastors, psychologists, doctors or counselors to meet the challenges of accompaniment. In addition, in many parts of the world, especially in Cuba, it is difficult to access services in a meaningful way due to distance, financial means and time available. More needs to be done to support and equip leaders who are already providing vital help in their own communities and cultures but lack the formation and practice in trauma-informed support. This July we are planning to launch a pilot project in Cuba, called Expressive Arts in Transition (EXIT) that will provide capacity, confidence and community support for over-extended care providers who come alongside others in situations of crisis.
Survivors of trauma are constantly looking for a sense of home and security outside of themselves. The EXIT program places attention on finding this sense of home internally in the physical body. Based on resilience and growth, the EXIT program started in Norway and is based on longitudinal studies with unaccompanied minors and war refugees from the Balkans. It is an early intervention model, using the expressive arts in trauma-informed ways to provide psychosocial and spiritual support in response to individual and community crisis and transition. My co-facilitator, Shabrae Jackson and I both received our EXIT training and certification from its founder, Dr. Melinda Ashley Meyer DeMott. We hope to train and certify Spanish speaking faith leaders, social service providers and peace builders in the EXIT model so that they can train others in their communities to provide accessible and needed psycho-social-spiritual support for trauma recovery. It will be the first time this internationally recognized program will be offered in Latin America.
Through play, movement and the arts, we will create a space where people can imagine new possibilities and community practices of connection and healing. We will focus on building hope for the future through practices of spontaneity, movement, imagination, commitment, connection, the here and now and both personal and collective responsibility. This project will offer access to practical, arts-based accompaniment skills for faith leaders, community organizers, peace builders, social service providers, health professionals, and university professors from every province of Cuba. The 6-day
intensive training will include community meals, daily group-building, sessions of experiential learning, artmaking, body-based grounding and flexibility exercises, and spiritual reflection as individuals and groups.It is our hope and vision to create a Latin American EXIT (Expressive Arts in Transition) team in the next two years of Latin American leaders who will become trainers of trainers, providing contextual formation for a cadre of expressive arts accompaniers. With learnings from this pilot project, we hope to expand this training to many other Spanish speaking countries.
Access to innovative educational opportunities like this program is beyond the financial capacity of most Cuban citizens where average monthly income does not exceed $150. I am praying and planning to secure funding to provide the week’s room and board ($240 per person) for all participants, making accessible a training opportunity that would not normally be financially feasible for the participants. I’ve already received gifts to cover 4 participants’ food and housing costs. We need 11 more now. Would you consider giving something to make this training possible? I created an original glass art piece measuring 8”X10” to be a reminder of the community effort to support this unique gathering. All gifts of $50+ given to the Cuba pilot project between June 1 – August 1, 2023, will be entered into a raffle to win the art. Until the project is posted on IM’s website, all donations can be made by checks to International Ministries, noting Mylinda Baits Specifics Cuba project or by calling Julie to process your card at donor services 610-768-2314.
A million thanks for caring for this creative as I strive to care for other carers. You make all of the difference.