The Journey of Life intervention for conflict-affected populations
TPO Uganda and Washington University at St. Louis investigated the effectiveness and implementation of the Journey of Life (JoL) program in Kiryandongo, Uganda. JoL addresses the ecologies of children and adolescents by working with caregivers, educators and community members to understand the importance of their support in the protection of children. It focuses on addressing key preventive and curative measures for mental health and psychosocial outcomes, including improving coping skills, meaning-making, social functioning, and social capital.
Journey of Life (JoL) is a twelve-session psychosocial community-based intervention that enhances community and family supports, as it fits within layer two of the MHPSS pyramid. JoL has been developed by the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) to be applicable to community members from various backgrounds and literacy levels. The aim of this program is to engage parents, educators, and community members in child protection and the improvement of psychosocial support within their communities through reflection, dialogue, and action.
JoL is a community mobilization resource developed to raise awareness among community members on the psychosocial needs of vulnerable children. The intervention highlights the importance of engaging communities, because family and social supports are the best protection in response to distress, and attachment to a caring adult is a key protective factor for children. It provides an opportunity for individuals impacted by severe traumatic experiences, such as those who have experienced intergenerational displacement or recent refuge, to re-examine the way they support children in their communities. Enhancing psychosocial support with vulnerable populations, including children and survivors of torture, is vital to community recovery and overall well-being.
This intervention has the flexibility to be used in the pre-planning, planning, and implementation levels of community mobilization efforts. JoL is useful for any community member, but is recommended for individuals who interact with children. The series of workshops are divided into seven parts, incorporating understanding children’s needs, identifying children who need help, building on children’s strengths, and getting involved. The tools are designed for humanitarian staff working in emergencies, and include a collection of materials that guide staff in the integration of psychosocial and mental health support into cross-sector programming. Throughout these guidelines, the emphasis is on creating nurturing and caring communities.
Specific aspects of this intervention focus on community parenting, supporting grieving children, lessons from life, social connectedness, making communities safer, supporting children with disabilities, ending child marriage, ending human trafficking, and protecting children from abuse. The action tools are designed to engage community members in discussions about typical circumstances in their communities, including their personal experiences, and how they can help others.