VIVO Foundation

who is vivo

vivo is an alliance of professionals experienced in the fields of psychotraumatology, international health, humanitarian aid, scientific laboratory and field research, sustainable development and human rights advocacy. vivo is an independent non-profit organization committed to the provision of services to those who need it most regardless of their racial, ethnic, sexual, religious or political affiliations.

THIS WAS THEIR WEBSITE. The content is from the site's archived pages.

Their current website can be found at http://www.vivo.org/

 

vivo's mission

vivo works to overcome and prevent traumatic stress and its consequences within the individual as well as the community, safeguarding the rights and dignity of people affected by violence and conflict. vivo further aims to strengthen local resources for the development of peaceful, human rights-based, societal ways of living. 

funding

vivo welcomes and seeks funding for its programs and activities from individuals, foundations, regional and national agencies, as well as international organizations. vivo will collaborate and partner with agencies in resource-rich, as well as poor, countries to further the organization's goals and objectives.

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who is who in vivo

vivo is an alliance of professionals experienced in the fields of psychotraumatology, international health, humanitarian aid, scientific laboratory and field research, sustainable development and human rights advocacy. vivo is an independent non-profit organization committed to the provision of services to those who need it most regardless of their racial, ethnic, sexual, religious or political affiliations.

Address in Italy
vivo 
Casella Postale no. 17, Castelplanio Stazione
60032 Ancona, Italy
Tel: (Italian) +39-338-5628711

Banca delle Marche, Italy; Branch No 325;
Account No 4000; Abi No 6055; Cab No 21325 , Swift BAMAIT3A301

Address in Germany
vivo Germany
Zur Setze 7, 78476 Allensbach, Germany
Tel: (German, English) +49-(0)7531-884623

vivo e.V., Germany 
Bank: Sparkasse Bodensee 
Account number: 85985 
Bank number: 69050001 
IBAN: DE21690500010000085985 
SWIFT: SOLADES1KNZ

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ethical standing of vivo

vivo is politically neutral and independent. It's ethical standing and work is particularly based on:

-UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

-UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);

-UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);

-UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;

-UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

-UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees;

-UN International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children;

-The Hague Convention;

vivo's core principles are impartiality and ethical behaviour through psychotrauma work that is professional and measurable, based on scientific knowledge as well as field experience. Vivo acknowledges ethno-cultural differences as well as individual uniqueness. Psychological trauma has caused suffering throughout the evolution of humankind. Regardless of the specific cultural background of a victim, suffering from post-traumatic symptoms is a person-unique as well as human universal response to a horrifying or life-threatening experience. Vivo based its conviction on the knowledge and assumption of basic anthropological, psychological and biological equality of mankind in this respect, since traumata challenge the fundamental being of a person. Amid peril and pain, humans do not differ in their emotional and somatic involvement to which they experience the psychological exposure of traumatic impact! The body will always show survival preparedness, while the mind gets shattered and traumatized. The traumatic experience outweighs ethnic and cultural differences in psychopathology, although the importance of culturally sensitive treatment and assessment must not be neglected. The cross-cultural research fostered through vivo will consider indigenous expressions of disorders after traumatic events, native idioms of distress and show ethno-cultural sensitivity in the assessment, including the use of instruments, language and concepts.

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documentation, human rights and advocacy

 

vivo promotes humanitarian and human rights work and defends the right of traumatized persons worldwide regardless of their nationality, race, religion, ideology or social group. vivo will consider the juridical implications of traumatization and build up a strong union with the Human Rights Community to support the work of the International Tribunal by providing support for eyewitnesses, caring for survivors in the 'Witness Room', adequately gaining and handling of testimonies and training of eyewitness interviewers on the basic principles of how to deal with traumatized interviewees in an acute as well as chronic stage through taking appropriate eye-witness testimonies from acute traumatized survivors after massive trauma and disaster in coordinated and better manner investigating and establishing comprehensive guidelines training of interviewers, translators and supervisors - basic ethical principles - validity for the juridical process
The treatment goals of vivo conducting and disseminating Narrative Exposure Therapy which leads to the construction of testimonies directly contributes to and promotes a joint approach of psychotherapeutic work and legal issues on a strictly science-based procedure.
The Center's treatment and training approach helps the individual to understand personal traumatic experience within a people's history. 
This implies the importance of embedding and connecting individual traumata to the ones of the family, community and society.
The 'culture of story-telling', i.e., the various approaches of empathic acknowledging the survivor's personal narration (testimony) about his/her traumatic experiences (by the community and society), and of labelling it as a human rights violation, was found to be successful in restoring the victim's dignity and reducing the post-traumatic symptoms.
Interviews of victims and witnesses, as well as the testimonies of the survivors of human rights violations will be documented and may be used for advocacy purposes, international tribunals or published for educational purposes in another way. For vivo testifying has therefore necessarily juridical and psychotherapeutical implications:

-the psychotherapeutic role of testimony (inner healing through testifying) 

-the role of testimony for reconciliation (relieving feelings of revenge by being able to tell the story to the public). 

-testimony as documents for educational purposes (counteract forgetfulness, ignorance, denial).

-the juridical implications of testimony (how to support the work of the International Tribunal).

Finally, in the context of Human Rights Violations, testimonies and reports of witnesses and helpers and peacekeepers will be created, and might, depending on the client's wish and acceptance, be used for documentary purposes. They will be archived at the Frati Bianchi campus. In this way, vivo addresses violations of basic human rights encountered by survivors, witnesses and field teams, violations perpetrated or sustained by political or other organized and non-organized actors. 

 

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vivo's program areas

1. research
Being at the forefront of scientific knowledge in the field of psychotraumatology, vivo focuses on traumatic stress in different societal and cultural settings. This scientific research is carried out in the field as a way to systematically learn from the victims themselves and disseminate their knowledge. It is also a powerful means to critically examine the adequacy and usefulness of current aid measures.

2. programs
Building on vivo's research, the organization develops, implements and evaluates evidence-based best practice interventions, focusing on individuals as well as communities affected by violence and conflict. In this respect, vivo carries out individual and community level initiatives, to alleviate human suffering from psychological trauma. vivo also promotes the engagement of community members in public mental health and human rights action, aiming at strengthening local resources for building functional and peaceful communities.

3. training
vivo provides training for local and international professionals who assist those who have fallen victim to psychological trauma and human rights abuse. In addition vivo trains key personnel in communities to enhance their capacity to understand trauma and its impact on people's lives and the community's future, as well as how to implement effective locally-based initiatives.

4. support
vivo provides technical planning, guidelines and evaluation support to public mental health programs. vivo also serves as a resource and expert referral center to governmental and humanitarian organizations, as well as to international agencies like the United Nations, European Union and the International Court of Justice. 

5. advocacy
vivo raises awareness among the general public and decision-makers on issues related to psychological and social trauma and its consequences. vivo also documents violations of human rights and helps those affected find redress by working with national and international agencies. The organization aims to mobilize support by providing a powerful channel for the "victim's voices" to be heard and by building local and global networks that address issues of traumatic stress and human rights abuse.

6. exchange
vivo's intent is to bring together scientists, field professionals and those affected in order to foster collaboration for multi-disciplinary trauma and mental health research. vivo forges alliances and partnerships to mobilize international support and to enable a better understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic determinants for the mental health of people living in situations of violence and conflict. vivo will further maintain a scientific database, accessible internationally and containing state-of-the art knowledge relating to trauma research. vivo will also establish an archive for the documentation of testimonies of human right violations. 

 

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vivo - victim's voice

"If I remain silent I poison my soul, silence never helps the victim." 
Elie Wiesel


In recent years, the world has witnessed an escalation of violence and atrocities in an increasing number of armed conflicts. Modern warfare aims at threatening and fighting civilians rather than foreign armies. Mass expulsions, massacres, mutilations and even genocide have become commonplace. Over 100 states worldwide continue to utilize torture against political or cultural minorities in order to maintain power. These forms of severe human rights violations have devastating effects on individuals and communities alike. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 30 million people are currently on flight. Most of the refugees are living in degrading conditions in refugee camps or provisional settlements in developing countries, some of them for an indefinite time.

Many victims of war suffer from injuries and medical diseases, primarily due to poor hygienic conditions, absence of medical care, poverty and malnutrition. The wounds of the psyche however are also extremely disabling. Having endured or witnessed atrocious combat situations, torture, rape, or the abduction or killing of a loved one, can cause severe suffering, including nightmares, flashbacks, constant fear and grief. In many cases these symptoms do not dissipate over time. About 20-50 percent of civilians who have experienced war and persecution find themselves victims of severe psychological distress as a consequence of their traumatic experiences. Armed conflicts and violent repression are certainly detrimental for community life. The social structure of war-torn societies is destroyed when relatives and friends are dead or missing. In addition, people often feel detached from one another, withdraw from social activities, and are unable to re-establish family and community life. The psychological and social wounds of wars, persecution and immense loss can persist for decades and interfere with the reconstruction of a functioning society.

The global intensification of violence aimed at civilians in conflict situations results in a colossal challenge for aid organizations. Survivors need more than medical emergency intervention and food provisioning. Many victims need psychological support and treatment in dealing with their traumatic experiences in order to regain the capability to care for themselves and their dependents. Psychological, social and human rights-based interventions are required to facilitate the development of new and peaceful societal ways of living.

There are different approaches that aim at supporting people and communities that suffer from traumatic stress. Not all of them are effective; some of them can even be harmful. There is a great demand for research and development of best practice interventions that are both scientifically based and culturally sensitive.

Victims who suffer from psychological wounds due to traumatic events tend to remain silent about their past. They avoid talking about their experiences since remembering the traumatic event is painful, they fear that others cannot understand them. But many never forget their experiences and these are relived in nightmares and flashbacks. Outer silence and inner reliving engenders a speechless terror that hinders both individual and social adjustment after exposure to traumatic events.

One of vivo's essential approaches is encouraging people to share their suffering. Talking about painful experiences can be a relief for the individual as it can support the integration of the experience into the victim's personal as well as the community's shared history. Skilled listeners who try to understand this suffering in the context of a general concern for humanity, and with access to appropriate scientific knowledge, are required to assist the restoration of the victim's dignity. At the same time, testifying against human rights violations can be helpful for the individual, as well as the community, as it enables the sharing of pain and the construction of an empowered collective history. In this way communities may regain the power to demand the fulfillment of their human rights and justice. Building on this, work for peace and reconciliation can begin and victims can become survivors. 

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Vivo News had archives dating from 2001-2006. Below are just a few examples.

 

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2005 
vivo emergency mission in Northern Sri Lanka

In immediate response to the Tsunami disaster that has particularly affected the already war-torn areas in Sri Lanka's North-East, vivo has sent a team of eight senior members to increase relief efforts for traumatized children.

As a first step, a 4-day crisis intervention workshop was carried out in Jaffna at the Shantiham Centre for Health & Counselling. The course was designed as a refresher training for fully trained Master Counsellors and focused on issues related to Crisis Intervention, Psychological First Aid, Acute Stress Symptoms, PTSD & its treatment as well as Grief Counselling.
In the framework of the workshop, an epidemiological survey was done in Point Pedro (Manadkadu town), one of the worst affected areas in the country, located at the uppermost Northern tip of the island. It is noteworthy that 60% of these children had previous traumatic war experiences. As a consequence of these traumatic histories, now including the tsunami disaster, 42% fulfilled all criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. Since previous studies done by vivo have revealed a building-block effect of traumatic exposure in children whereby an increasing number of traumatic events is related to a greater risk for PTSD, we expect the highest need for mental health assistance in the North-East provinces that were most affected by both, the war as well as the flood.

In response to the high PTSD prevalence found in the Point Pedro survey, all 31 children identified with PTSD were enrolled in a controlled treatment evaluation with 6 trained Master Counsellors applying NET as well as relaxation therapy. Children were randomly assigned to one of the treatment approaches. Therapies have started at the end of January with three senior team members supervising Master Counsellors in the implementation phase. Treatments are expected to be completed by end of February and post-tests assessing effectiveness of either of the treatments and recovery of children will be carried out by end of March. 

A five day trip through the north-eastern provinces mostly affected by the Tsunami (Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee and Batticaloa) confirmed our observation already made in Point Pedro that a large number of children will be in need for counseling and mental health treatment services in the mid- to longterm. Upon vivo's recommendations and with the support of the local Ministry of Education, all Master Counsellors deployed in the worst affected areas along the North-Eastern coast will be released from their usual duties to carry out structured assessments in most severely affected schools thereby collecting sufficient data in all educational zones, allowing more detailed and need-based mid- to longterm psycho-social planning. Master Counselors will also engage in trauma treatment, whereby Befrienders will assist at a psycho-social level, raising awareness among parents, carrying out play activities for children and granting social support to communities. 


 


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TSUNAMI DISASTER:
vivo increases relief efforts in Sri Lanka

Across several years, vivo has helped to build a local capacity for trauma treatment in the war-striken areas of Sri Lanka. This structure now can be used to bring relief to the children who, in addition to their war atrocities have been struck by the shock of the Tsunami. 

vivo responded immediately to the disaster, sending a team of trauma experts to Sri Lanka's North-Eastern provinces who will assist the local experts to treat survivors who have not yet found a way back to normal mental functioning. Other vivo members have left for Phuket (Thailand) or are on their way to Cape Comorin(South India).

Why children in the North-Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka?
We know that survivors who have witnessed the catastrophe and who had to experience already a previous trauma are at major risk of developing a mentally crippling disease such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Our investigations indicate that nearly a third of the children have been affected in their mental health by the civil war. The greatest risk factors for children to loose their ability to healthy functioning are proximity of threat, previous trauma and lack of social and parental support. For children in their developing stages, consequences of continuous traumatic stress can include disabling long-term changes in personality which is even more devastating. 

vivo's current relief effort in collaboration with the logistics providing GTZ (Gesellschaft f?r Technische Zusammenarbeit) builds on an already existing intervention team where about 1000 school teachers were trained to identify problems in children which they refer to more than 100 trained counselors for a short-term treatment that has proven its effectiveness in scientifically sound studies. The acquired knowledge can now be directly applied to the most recent disaster. After a short-term refresher training especially on acute stress, teachers and counselors will be supervised by the team to conduct evidence-based treatments for children and adolescents in the most affected regions. The local therapists and teachers often themselves have lost relatives and property. To continue with their aid work they need your support: 80 Euros keep a counselor going for one month. During a month' work, six of seven severely affected children can be brought back to near normal functioning and the suffering will be reduced. But neither the catastrophe nor the previous tragedies can be made undone.

All passengers in this train that was wiped away by the flood died immediately. Two weeks after the disaster rescue workers are still busy finding body parts in the train. (picture source: vivo)

 

All passengers in this train that was wiped away by the flood died immediately. Two weeks after the disaster rescue workers are still busy finding body parts in the train. (picture source: vivo)

This family could rescue themselves on the roof of a temple while the first wave was destroying their home. Immediately afterwards the nine year old daughter was wiped away by a second wave from the hands of her father and mother. (picture source: vivo)

 

This family could rescue themselves on the roof of a temple while the first wave was destroying their home. Immediately afterwards the nine year old daughter was wiped away by a second wave from the hands of her father and mother. (picture source: vivo)

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FEBRUARY 2005 
vivo NET-training in Kabul, Afghanistan

vivo's work in post-war countries now reaches out to Afghanistan. In response to an invitation by project leader Inge Missmahl, vivo gives active support to the build-up of 15 counseling centres, a network supported by Caritas, in the wider Kabul city area. 



Currently vivo is training a group of 33 local practitioners in the identification and treatment of traumatised clients. The 2-year training schedule is broad-based to also include other mental health topics, such as depression, substance abuse, women's and children's rights, forms of organised and individual violence, domestic abuse and a focus on specially vulnerable groups, like war widows and land mine victims, amongst other. 

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OCTOBER 2004
vivo Uganda on its own feet

During 2004 vivo Uganda's Nakivale Mental Health Project has evolved from being a research based project into a sustainable operational service provider for refugees, run by locally trained refugees. 

The decision to continue services in the camp, was mainly based on the request of Red Cross (who is running the camp hospital), asserting that the number of psycho-somatic illnesses has decreased significantly since the mental health project started operating. 
Another strong encouragement to continue service provision came from the side of the camp commandment, noticing a reduction of cases of domestic violence, ethnic clashes between Somali and Rwandese camp inhabitants and substance abuse in direct relation to the operation of the mental health unit. 
One of vivo Uganda's new branches remains located in Nakivale Refugee Camp itself, run by our 5 locally trained Rwandese refugee therapists and interviewers, targeting the 14.000 person strong Rwandese population in the camp. 

The other unit will be located in Kisenyi slum area, within the vicinity of Kampala municipality, run by our 3 Somali therapists and 2 interviewers, formerly trained in the Nakivale project, now targeting Somali refugee adults and children in the capital. Both of these mental health units are qualified and specialised in the treatment of PTSD and related comorbid disorders through the application of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) and more general counselling methods. 

 

 

 

                                

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VivoFoundation.net