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CONGO | "When you're displaced, your thoughts can be too"


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“When you’re displaced from your home, your thoughts can be displaced too,” says Sifa Clementine.

Sifa oversees MSF’s mental health activities in Mweso, a small town in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Today, Sifa and her team are running a theatre production on sexual violence for the local community. The setting is the displacement camp that sits across the road from Mweso’s General Hospital, where Sifa and her team work.

The actors in the play are all MSF mental health counsellors.

Over the course of the next three hours, the team connects with the 200-strong audience through song, dance and drama.

At the end of the play, there’s a valuable moment for the audience to reflect on what they’ve seen, as a form of group discussion.

The event is designed to inform the people of the camp that MSF is in the community, and is there to listen.

“When we see a problem in the community, we act out these problems and educate in this way.

“Often, a person's behaviour is affected by what they have gone through. That is when behaviour changes."

Referring to the character of the daughter in the play, Sifa goes on to explain: “In her village, for example, she didn't drink alcohol, but now she does. She steals food in the house and she sells it for drinks.

“The sketches show people what can happen, and how they can overcome these problems.”

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Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare.