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    HomeNewsHealing hidden wounds: Surviving armed violence in Burkina Faso

    Healing hidden wounds: Surviving armed violence in Burkina Faso

    Aly is 15 years old. He and his family had to flee their home three years ago. They sought refuge in a densely populated settlement for displaced people on the outskirts of Ouahigouya in north-western Burkina Faso. Ever since, Aly has been haunted by his memories and has suffered insomnia and night terrors.

    We started off by trying traditional medicine and then modern medicine, but with no success,” explained his father.

    Then, Aly’s mother attended a session on mental health, which was being held in the settlement where they were living, and she decided to sign up for therapy at the ICRC-supported Lazaré medical centre.

    In 2023, the ICRC observed an increasing number of children traumatized by the violence they had witnessed. In response, we set up a project in Ouahigouya and Dori that allows children to express their emotions through drawing, writing and storytelling.

    In Ouahigouya, getting psychological support is a real challenge. There is a regional university hospital, but it only treats the most serious cases.

    When he arrived at the Lazaré medical centre, young Aly didn’t say much. “He was feeling guilty. Some of his friends had been left behind and he had a lot of negative emotions. Our job was to help him untangle those emotions through drawing and writing.”

    Over the course of the sessions, Aly managed to verbalize his fears and express his anxieties through his drawings. Gradually, he was able to resume a semblance of a normal life.

    Now, he has gone back to school and found new friends, and the night terrors that disrupted his sleep have stopped.


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