The International Counseling, Advocacy, Research, and Education project (I-CARE) is a multi-disciplinary effort that addresses the mental health aspects associated with HIV-AIDS and other social problems, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Even with increasing access to new and effective medicines, there are still a wide variety of life changes that individuals, families, communities, and governments face. Focusing on the needs created by HIV/AIDS pandemic, the I-CARE project promotes efficacious programs in counseling, assessment, and public health.

Among a full-range of I-CARE activities this year, what stands out for me was the testimony of a group adolescent blind young women at a residential school in Mochudi, Botswana who were able to talk about the empowerment that they now feel after undergoing and extensive group counseling experience. Disadvantaged young women everywhere, but especially in Africa, are vulnerable to male predators. To see how these young women had bonded with each other found the strength and their voice to turn down unwanted sexual advances and stand up for each other was very moving. After their testimony, they sang a series of songs led by a young woman with an marvelous voice. It was a joyful thing to see and hear. These young women and others were given an extended group counseling experience by 2 African colleagues. We are going to follow up with a series of other counseling sessions led by people we have previously trained in Botswana. Part of that group with the counselors who worked with them are pictured below. We have a full range of activities in the year, but seeing the results of this particular one was especially heartening.

– Rex Stockton

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