Family and couple therapy training and war victims with missing relatives in northern Uganda

During my internship period, from February until June, in Uganda I was privileged to be able to be part of the team Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations (CCVS) amidst the pandemic that was affecting not only the clients but also my colleagues. Not so many students were able to do the internship programs abroad due to the restrictions taking place in many countries. I was one of the lucky ones who were allowed to travel outside the EU.

I spent time in Lira, one of the areas affected by the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) war. A war that lasted for 20 years and wrecked a lot of communities in northern Uganda. It has left a lot of families with deceased and missing relatives or loved ones. CCVS is an organisation that has spent many years conducting research, to study the psycho-social well-being of persons living in vulnerable situations that are relevant for practitioners; support for children, youth, and adults by providing group and individual psycho-social counselling. At last large dissemination: workshops, publications, website and international conferences, to bring awareness on the topic mental health.

For my degree program Advanced Bachelor: International Cooperation North-South (ICNS), I had to write a thesis that is related to my internship. My topic is ‘what can be the positive effects of family and couple counselling according to therapists of war victims of missing relatives in Northern Uganda within Lira District?’ At the beginning of my internship in the month of February I was able to participate in the field work (group psycho-social counselling sessions) with my mentor and two staff members. During the group counselling I found out that some women were talking about their missing husbands and sons that are still missing after the war. They still don’t know whether they are alive or dead. This brought to my attention that the victims with missing relatives have not been prioritized. The experiences of distress are often not addressed, validated, or recognised in society. When I discussed with my mentor about the topic we came up with the idea to organize a family and couple therapy training to counsellors of CCVS.

The new project of the organisation funded by Trust Funds for Victims (TFV), is called ‘Centre for expertise in psychological support services for war-affected individuals, families and communities’, the training of family and couple therapy is included. I was given the chance to give a training together with the clinical supervisor. The training is linked to my research topic. The purpose of it is to understand and reflect on training and research topics that could help contribute to to the organisation CCVS. The training took place between 31st of May and 4th of June 2021. The training covered two areas of counselling which were Family (Systemic) Therapy and Emotional Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). I explained some basic techniques of therapeutic conversations (different types of questions, genogram, and six guidelines of resilience).

It was a difficult topic to research and get an in-depth answer to my research question due to the limited amount of time to conduct interviews and research families with missing relatives. Ambiguous loss is part of it, which was introduced by a family therapist Dr. Pauline Boss, who pioneered her research on ambiguous loss in family therapy. In general, there are two different types of ambiguous loss: (1) when someone is physically absent but psychologically present (natural disasters, armed conflicts…); (2) person who is physically present but psychologically absent (e.g. Alzheimer/Traumatic brain injury…). I have introduced and discussed the topic of ambiguous loss and the six guidelines, with the counsellors of CCVS, that are mainly used for any type of intervention process that is required for support and flexibility depending on the culture and power of structure of the members involved. Throughout the entire training sessions there were interactive discussions, role plays with examples and self-care activities.

It was my first time organizing and giving training sessions. Although I have faced some challenges for the preparation, I am satisfied that the training towards the end of my internship period was successful. I have made sure I engaged counsellors as much as possible by allowing them to provide experiences they had with their clients. Later on, I received many positive comments on the way I delivered the training and on my attitude. It was crazy to me that they mentioned that I did not look nervous at all (although internally I felt so nervous!) and that I should do more training in the future. I am usually very shy when presenting or discussing topics in front of the audience. Their feedback boosted my confidence even more than I realized. The training with a balance of knowledge and practical skills according to counsellors of CCVS could improve the quality of counselling, with the added value that could improve the positive effects on family members with missing relatives. Thanks to this training counsellors can be a decisive factor in improving lives of so many heavily traumatized victims’ of war.

Thanks to feedback, presentations (group and individually), group and individual work, and internship, I have become more self-confident and self-sufficient. While writing my bachelor thesis, I was able to broaden my perspective and my horizon on sensitive topics that are close to my heart. At the same time, I was able to use my talents and gain many new insights.

Keda H.

My journey so far in Uganda

Hey everyone!

The long silence is broken out!

Due to my busy schedule I was not able to be consistent with my blog. It took me a while for me to sit down and start writing… I have a lot of catching up to do regarding my updates of my journey.

It is really getting closer to the end of my internship period in Lira. I first want to give you a quick overview of the rest of my travels and visits from some friends 🙂 I will keep this brief. Due to the amount of pressure with all the deadlines I have to meet… It was almost impossible for me to really start writing blogs. So, I will summarise them all below!

List of Activities/Touristic sightseeing/Parcs:

Gulu, Baker’s Fort/Fort Patiko (27/02 – 28/02)

I went to Gulu together with my partner to do some sightseeing. We stayed there for two days. We decided to learn some History about this place which is not really known, it is located in a remote area of Gulu. It was quite a journey to reach that place. But beside all this, it was worth a visit! A history that left a huge mark in the Northern region of Uganda. I would definitely recommend that place!

Kapchorwa, Sipi Falls (6/03 – 8/03)

Sipi Falls was one of my favorite places to visit in Uganda. It is located in Eastern Uganda in the district if Kapchorwa, North East of Sironko and Mbale. I was mesmerised by the beauty of the landscapes. My partner and I, we did some hiking at the waterfalls, then we got the opportunity to visit the Arabica Coffee plantation. We got to experience the making of coffee in the local way! I’m not much of a coffee fan, but after tasting it, I enjoyed the raw smoothest taste of coffee beans. It was quality! Just looking back on those moments I just can’t have enough of this! I cannot recommend this place enough! Should really try visit this place!


Murchison Falls (29/03 – 31/03)

I had the privilege of visiting Murchison Falls with my fellow friend and her partner. It was so much fun to make this trip with them! The landscapes, the animals, the birtds, the waterfalls, etc. it will stay deep in my memory. We did several activities in one day: game drive, boat ride, walk through the falls, bird watching…. It was a bit tiring to do all of them in one day but it was worth it! I was enchanted by its beauty. Although, there were some challenges along the way like crossing a bridge because the boat that carries cars from one area to another is broken, so we had to rent a tourist car to do the game drive, which cost us a little more. All in all, it was a great experience. I definitely want to go back again!

Jinja, the Source of the Nile (2/04 – 5/04)

I organized a trip to Jinja with a group of other Belgian students. It was the only place where we could all meet. We had done fun and adventure activities like water rafting, tubing, boat trip, visit to the Source of the Nile, night tour in Jinja (entertainment), etc. We were lucky to have a nice person from the tourist industry who offered us options and helped us in organizing our activities and at the same time drove us through Jinja all weekend. Thanks to my partner who helped me to connect with him. We decided to meet all the students from different parts of Uganda. We booked a holiday home for all of us and spent pleasant moments together.

Jinja is a city in southeastern Uganda and is known for the source of the Nile, which flows from Lake Victoria. In the local Baganda the area is called “the stones”, which in Luganda is “Mayinja”. That’s where the name “Jinja” comes from. John Hanning Speke was the first European to lay eyes the Source of the Nile during the British settlement. Then there is the bridge, known as the Source of the Nile Bridge, built across the Nile, which connects the city of Njeru to Jinja.

Lira, Got Ngetta Rock (04/05 – 06/05)

Got Ngetta Rock is a beautiful solid rock at 4,500 ft sea level. It is located on the outskirts of the city of Lira. Got Ngetta Rock was said to be the beautiful treasure of Lira. The Luo word for Got Ngetta: ‘the rock that was broken down’. Legend has it that the community woke up to the sight of a terrifying rock.

You will have the chance to have a beautiful panoramic view of Lira. I had the privilege of receiving visitors, fellow Belgian students from Kampala and Fort Portal, here in Lira. I am grateful to spend those fun and crazy moments together. They had the chance to visit some areas of Lira while I was doing my internship. Climbing this rock with them was an amazing experience!

Visiting friends in Kampala

From February 13 to 15, I took an extended weekend to visit my fellow students/friends who are doing internships in Kampala. It was a very fun and interesting experience. I stayed in their guesthouse, although the room was small (even for 2 people), they added an extra mattress for me as the third person to sleep on. Even that was a challenge because we had to move some stuff to make some space. But all in all, we managed!

Fortunately, I was able to arrange transportation to reach Kampala on Saturday the 13th. I traveled with the new Chief Executive Director and my mentor by car. It was a long journey to reach Kampala because of the potholes that took it 3 hours to Kamdini. But the next three hours the road is better.

After arriving that day, I was invited by my fellow student’s mentor to eat and drink some pork later. But unfortunately I arrived a little later than expected because of traffic on the road so I could not attend to eat pork. Instead, we arranged to meet at CJ’s, a popular café-restaurant, to have something small to drink and eat there. I was the first to arrive at CJ’s, so I waited there until the others arrived. It was nice to see my fellow students again!

The next day we visited the Gaddafi National Mosque, a mosque located on Kampala Hill in old Kampala. The mosque was completed in 2006 and officially opened in 2007. We had a guide who gave us historical explanations about the mosque. It was interesting to learn that this mosque is the headquarters of the Islamic faith in Uganda. It is also the headquarters of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council, the organization that runs all Islamic affairs in Uganda. It is a two-story building, we went all the way to the top, where we could see the panorama of Kampala. Believe me, it was worth it!

Then we went to Cassia Lodge, a place to relax, swim, eat, drink etc. It is a nice place with beautiful surroundings. You can enjoy the view of the landscape. My two friends went swimming, I decided not to because I didn’t really feel like it. Instead, I relaxed with my laptop and worked on my research proposal. My friends also took their laptops to work on their research proposal after they swam.

The next day, I went shopping with my mentor before leaving for Lira. I wanted to buy stuff that I wouldn’t find in Lira and even stuff that could be found cheaper in Kampala. I had two big bags so I had to take an uber. It was impossible to take a Boda Boda (motorcycle). When I arrived in Lira I had arranged for someone to pick me up. So the driver from CCVS picked me up, this went smoother than I thought.

My 2 weeks of my internship in Lira

1st week

It has been more than two weeks that I have been staying in Lira. For the first two days after arriving in Lira, I did not feel 100% well. This is due to the distance I traveled by car, the holes in the road and the change in weather, which made my body restless. I haven’t really been able to rest since I arrived in Uganda. I feel like my body hasn’t gotten a good rest. I suspect that my body was acting strange from the beginning, since I arrived in Lira, that it started shivering, feeling cold and hot, had a little sore throat, a little lightheaded. I was afraid at first that I had gotten malaria, but that’s not the case. I think those symptoms come from low blood pressure combined with the body being exhausted.

At the beginning of the week, I had an orientation week about the organization. CCVS (Center for Children in Vulnerable Situations) is an organization that promotes the mental health of children, adolescents and adults. It is an organization that conducts research and fieldwork. I participated in the fieldwork by going to the villages which are 4 hours drive back and forth. I must say that this was really tiring, but one day after another I got carsick. It was interesting to see how the group counseling was given by psychological counselors.

On Tuesday and Wednesday we attended the first session in the field and it consisted of women in Ngai and Abok. The psychological counselors were the ones who gave the sessions and interpreted for me and my mentor so that we could follow the sessions. The session is held in the local language (Luo language). During the group sessions, I took notes so that I could easily follow the sessions and remember what the sessions were about: talking about the different topics, doing different exercises, etc. At the end of the week, we had a meeting on Friday. At the meeting we had to update each other on how we were feeling, and what the challenges and successes of the week were.

I was well received by my mentor and she really made sure I was settled in overall. One weekend I was invited by her to her house for dinner, along with her friend. First, I got a tour of the city with my personal Boda Boda. He drove me around to discover places and streets. I also drove through Got Ngetta Rock and stopped to take some photos and videos. On Sunday, I decided to go to the salon, where the person in charge of my accommodation contacted the person who always does her hair. So she helped me make an appointment, so you can see in the photo below what my braided hair looks like 🙂


2nd week

During the second week in Lira, I did some office work. I talked to staff members about their work, I asked questions and observed. On Tuesday, I went to the field in Ngai. There I participated in 2 group sessions. This was session 2 for all in one day. I had to take notes from the group sessions so that I can fill in the notes later in the assessments of the session notes. The colleague guided me on what I needed to do. I sat and brainstormed ideas for my research proposal. During the weekend, I met the new Chief Executive Director of CCVS, she is a Dutch person from Kampala. I had a one-on-one conversation with her.

On Thursday, I went for the first time to another village, ‘Aromo’, together with my mentor and the new Chief Executive Director. I went there to observe the ‘male’ group sessions and did a short introduction. It was interesting to see how psychological counselors handle male group sessions compared to female group sessions. I wrote down some observation notes about their gestures and behavioral aspects. I could not understand what they were saying because we decided not to follow their stories because it is their second session and to see strangers appear in the middle of a sensitive topic. We told the psychologist to talk in his language without interpreting. My mentor and the new Chief Executive Director and I talked about conducting family therapy training for staff members because I was talking about my previous education. I majored in Family Studies; they came up with that idea. I even talked about some topics that I noticed the organization was not focusing on such as “Family Reunification” for former child soldier in families. My mentor thought this was a good idea to implement in a case manual.

On Tuesday, the person in charge of the accommodation had a birthday that day. Her husband organized a small surprise birthday party in the restaurant’s bar. It was fun, I met new people and danced in a club for the first time since COVID-19. Of course, we still respected the restrictions and rules.

On Friday we had another meeting, but even during the meeting I had to go with my landlord to register with the security officer and the chief official and I got their contact information. Then we were invited to a welcome party with the staff. It is a party meant for me and the new Chief Executive Director.

One week quarantine in Uganda

My first week in Uganda was very exciting. I have to say that there were especially tense and stressful moments about the housing arrangements for my stay in Lira, where my internship takes place.

My fellow students and I all arrived safely around midnight on the 24th of January in Entebbe. It’s nice to travel in group knowing that you’re not alone travelling (even though I’m also used to travelling by myself). It was my first time experiencing this.


Later we were all picked up by drivers from ViaVia Hotel in Entebbe, hosted by a Belgian couple. We stayed at the hotel in quarantine for a week. We all booked rooms in groups of 4, 2,2. On our first day of stay, we were given a tour of our hotel. They gave us information about the hotel and their projects. Then we went to the Shopping Mall in Entebbe to withdraw or exchange money. We bought our new Ugandan SIM cards for our mobile data.

While we were in quarantine, we were given tasks to work on a project with the staff. We were all grouped and worked together on different projects.

A fellow student and I were both responsible for a project about ‘plants and compost’. Others had to deal with ‘bicycles and chickens’, create posters / brochures and improve the system by working with Microsoft Excel.

I have to say that I am not alone in feeling this way that it was a hectic period with many uncertainties that required the housing arrangements from some of us … It was a bit stressful not to have the full extent of the information for our accommodation .

After working on our individual projects, we did some activities. We first started with boxing. Let me tell you this … it was pretty extreme. During our warm-up session, almost everyone felt exhausted and out of breath. The boxing teacher was not kidding and forced us to work to the limit. But we somehow survived!

The day after we danced some African. That’s my favorite part of sports 😀 Because I used to take dance lessons, it gave me the opportunity to move again, even though we had muscle pain from boxing.

We had the privilege of seeing some wildlife close to where we stayed. We woke up to see a velvet monkey up close. The monkey was sitting on the deck opposite our room. During the night we caught a glimpse of a wild cat (genet cat).

Then we visited the Oriental Garden and then Lake Victoria. We did Lake Victoria by boat. It was a beautiful journey. We saw different types of birds. Fortunately, we saw the Shoebill on Lake Victoria. It was one of the most beautiful scenery! We got to see the sunset up close ❤

Finally we went to the landfill where the Ugandan woman who came to talk to us after our boxing session about the waste recycling. I have to say it wasn’t the best scenery to look at, but it was an eye opener. Then we rode mountain bikes around Entebbe. We stopped at the Reptile Village and the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Center – Zoo. We have seen monkeys roaming free in the zoo.

In ViaVia Hotel we completed our projects after intensive work and several meetings in combination with guests who came to talk about Uganda. The Belgian ambassador spoke about diplomatic relations between Uganda and Belgium. A guest speaker, one of my fellow student’s mentors, came to talk about the history of Uganda. Another mentor from one of my fellow students recorded a video about ‘Volunteering and Internship’. It was interesting to understand more about Uganda.

There were days during lunch and dinner when we ate delicious local food. The food we ate was ‘Matoke’ with beans, groundnut sauce, nakati, rice, cassava, etc. I really enjoyed it! Especially the beans are one of my favorite food! 🙂

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On January 31, everyone left for their own region, where they do their internship. This will be a new challenge for everyone in my group. It will be worth it, I am so excited to see what kind of experiences I will encounter! 🙂

Exciting New Year 2021

First of all I would like to wish everyone a prosperous, peaceful, healthy and happy New Year 2021! May you all have a blessed year full of love, positive attitude, self-care and happiness… Hopefully this year is a year of healing and transformation. Use our past to strengthen us and lift up others! ❤

Like almost everyone else, I celebrated New Year’s Eve, because of the strict rules, with my mother, sister and my sister’s friend. It was peaceful without fireworks since it’s forbidden here in Belgium. We did our countdown with champagne and watched some movies together. 🙂 It wasn’t the typical NYE party I’m used to, but a moment together with our loved ones is worth celebrating!

2020 has been the toughest year for everyone. All the more I realize that 2020 is over so quickly. I am so excited to announce that I officially graduated in the month of December and I received my diploma and extra surprises by mail. It is not the kind of proclamation session I expected to have, but this will not undermine my happiness and pride. Under such difficult circumstances, I told myself to never give up and work hard for what I want in life. The more I believe in myself, the more I get motivated to make things done. 🙂

On January 23rd I will go to Uganda for my internship abroad. I am studying towards an Advanced Bachelor Degree ‘International Cooperation for North-South Relations’ which focuses on international cooperation and intercultural exchange between North and South. This will be a whole new experience for me. Even though I already gained experience with an internship abroad in my previous bachelor program, as I mentioned in my previous blog post.

I am looking forward to new adventures that will have an impact on my life. This program that I am following will offer me many opportunities for my future career. It is a privilege to be able to follow a five month internship program abroad to further implement my expertise and knowledge in Uganda.

However, I am aware of the circumstances of COVID-19, so it is still uncertain how much the regulations will influence the whole trip. However, we are lucky to be able to travel a week after the elections. I am going with seven fellow students and we will go into quarantine in Kampala together for a week before we go to our seperate internships.

Despite all the uncertainties, I am very excited to visit and explore another side of Africa. Uganda is on one of my bucket lists to visit, so I am lucky to have both the experience of the internship program and exploring the country. I am going to integrate in a completely different environment than what I am used to. I will try to learn the local language which is called the Lango language in Lira, in the northern region of Uganda where my internship will take place. The Lango language is part of the Luo languages that are spoken in the North. I’m going to do my internship in an organisation called CCVS (Centre for Children in Vulnerable Situations). The organisation promotes mental health and wellbeing of children, youth and adults. It also conducts research and support for formerly abducted and war-affected children and communities in the district of Lira. I’ll give you more clear details about the organisation once I’ll start my internship.

As a multicultural child living in both countries (Belgium and Cameroon), it has helped me to be flexible in the way I deal with intercultural differences. Thanks to my previous experiences as a multicultural child, my internship in Costa Rica and other volunteer work dealing with the same aspect has helped me to understand and be open to different cutlures. My curiousity has helped me to understand how the world works in terms of social, economic, political and ecological context. This has made me aware of the fact that I am a citizen of the world, while I keep abreast of the situation in other countries by reading news and scientific articles and watching the news and documentaries.

I want to take you with me on my new trip to Uganda. I will keep you informed about my stay, the projects I am going to work on and the places I am going to visit. It will be an exciting stay in Uganda. I am going to share a lot of photos and videos so that you can follow my journey through the five months stay. 😀 🙂

Cultural differences should not seperate us from each other, but rather cultural diversity brings collective strength that can benefit all of humanity. Also: Intercultural dialogue is the best guarantee of a more peaceful, just and sustainable world.

Robert Alan Aurthur

Opening a new chapter in life

I know I haven’t been updating my blogposts regularly the past couple of months… In the months of July and August I have been very busy with my thesis and work that it was difficult to combine all of it. Even though I need to start to be more consistent with it, I need to try harder this time, this is no excuse!

Let me give you some short updates about me during the month of September.

In the month of September I travelled together with my brother, his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s sister to Corfu, a Greek Island not far from Albania, we stayed there for 10 days. Since the whole pandemic it’s been a while that we have taken a proper summer break. Of course we respected the regulations with the social distancing and facemasks when we were in crowded areas. I would love to share a couple of the pictures I took during this amazing trip. I was mesmerized by the beauty of this Island, we managed to book a very cheap flight ticket. It was worth booking the trip. We went to swim in different beaches, visited museums and monuments, went for a walk and cruised to some parts of the island. We had an amazing sight seeing by car.

At first I was quite sceptical of going because zones can easily change color. I wasn’t sure whether the situation might get worse once we arrive there and it will change from yellow/orange to red zone. That could affect our vacation plans. Luckily the cases didn’t get worse. So we were able to go visit so many places and I’m happy I ended up going there.

On the same day of my arrival in Belgium, I received my results later in the evening. I graduated that day and I’m going to get my diploma soon! It was an achievement, my vacation ended well with me being an alumni for my former college university, despite the circumstances we’re in.

After graduating, I immediately decided to open up a new chapter and signed up for a new degree. It’s an advanced bachelor degree: ‘international cooperation for north-south relations’, I can study it for one year. After graduating as a bachelor of family sciences. I decided to use my knowledge and experiences abroad. It’s a unique opportunity to broaden my knowledge, experiences and develop my professional skills. It’s also an advantage for my CV to work abroad which has always been my goal: to work at an NGO or a non-profit organisation abroad or an organisation for refugees. It’s always been my dream to work for people in vulnerable situations. I’m the type of person who dares to go outside my comfort zone to take challenges. It’s going to be an exciting academic year with an internship abroad for 6 months. I did an internship abroad in Costa Rica two years ago but it was only for 2 months. This time it will be completely new, so I can’t wait to see how it all takes place!

Overwhelming feelings

I know it’s been a while that I last posted another blog. It’s been a quite hectic period for me in the sense of personal and college university reasons. Writing my thesis has taken so much of my time and energy, and finally I’ve submitted it. It’s been a roller coaster of ups and downs, but I have managed to get myself together.

 I’m not the type of person to expose too much of my private life publicly. What I know for a fact is that there’s always a reason for me to keep going on. Whatever happens, will happen for a reason. I always believed that something meaningful might happen in the future. So regardless of my lack of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-doubt, I will definitely strive in the path that I have always been looking for. I’m about to enter a new chapter in my life that I believe will affect me either way.

I have been feeling and I’m not the only one feeling this way, I used to mention this before, that this transition of life is affecting all of us: mentally, physically, and financially. This crisis has turned so many people’s lives around from happiness to despair or from despair to happiness… Every individual’s situation has its own issues to manage or to fix it. Talking about resilience has made me think about the thesis that I wrote. I’ve been thinking about the refugees who have to cope with a lot of hardship during and after the war. Their resilience is incomparable. They inspire me to keep moving and believing that there’s still light in the moment of darkness.

Hearing so much news about the number of deaths due to COVID-19, unemployment, burnouts, isolation, racism, xenophobia, etc. really affects me mentally. This is the problem when I’m too drawn by the news and social media… With so much going on, I need to keep reminding myself to take care of myself while still being vocal and bring awareness about difficult topics. My level of sensitivity can be very overwhelming and I need to take a few steps backward and allow myself to make time for myself without being on my phone every few hours.

This rehab from social media is really needed at times. I need to start sorting out my own life and plan my life to achieve the goals that I set for personal development. The support and the help I keep having, will help motivate me to keep moving forward.

Global Movement… Time to wake up!

I know probably some of you have been wondering about my absence… There’s been a lot going on these recent days. I haven’t been in the right state of mind to write. At the same time I have been focussing more on my thesis, which took a lot of my time and energy. It has been an emotional rollercoaster these past weeks and days. But now let’s focus on the real current events going on around the world.

Haven’t you been feeling that times have been changing lately? 2020 is a year of crisis, reflection, action and movement (Black Lives Matter). The untold history about the treatment of African-Americans has been unfolding recently. The unjust system that has been going on for years in the US needs to be addressed. Even here in Belgium, the colonization period has not been given as much attention as it deserves, especially the negative side i.e. the barbaric crimes committed by King Leopold II and the Belgian government during the colonial period, hasn’t (often) been mentioned.

The video gone viral of George Floyd’s death has sparked and awakened the global movement of BLM and protests. I can proudly say that I took part in this protest together with my siblings, some family members and friends in Brussels just two weeks after the video emerged. When I watched the scene… I couldn’t contain my tears and anger… so many emotions ran through my body. Unfortunately enough I was very much aware of the police brutality and the systemic racism in the US, this is nothing new… I’ve seen countless videos of victims like Trayvon Martin (when the BLM movement even began), Tamir Rice, Eric Garner (the same situation: ‘I can’t breathe…’), Philando Castile and the list goes on… I have since posted a lot of videos and articles about treatments of black people in the US and all over the world but not as much as I am now… But Floyd’s video really motivated me to become more vocal and daring to reveal a lot of uncomfortable truth about racism, police brutality, discrimination and the oppression that most black and poc (people of color) have been facing over the years…

I myself as a mixed-race person, I barely face racism here in Belgium. But I have encountered some indirect racism at work and in school, especially in the countryside. The passive racism I faced was the attitude of some of my colleagues towards me compared to my white student colleagues. I sensed the interaction with me as completely different from the way they interact amongst themselves. Let’s be honest here, it’s not because I barely encountered active racism that still up till this day racism doesn’t happen here. I know some people who experienced racial profiling and racist slurs from their white peers.

Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, some changes in policies not just in the US but also in Belgium, which are long overdue have finally come about. Finally the history of colonialism under the Leopold II era is implemented in the education system for last year secundary classes. It also helped pressuring the policy for practical tests against discrimination. Even some statues of Leopold II have been taken down, but that’s not going to help the fight against racism. But it’s the beginning of change that we want to see in our institutions.

That’s why I have been informing myself daily about the untold stories of black people not only in America but also in Europe. I want to highlight these important topics to spark conversations amongst us and to bring some type of awareness. The activists that I follow keep us up to date about the history of systemic racism and the current events happening in the world. I was able to help my friend a little bit for her life art coaching so she can implement and address those issues about racism into her work.

I followed an interesting webinar yesterday about ‘Decolonize Belgium too’, a panel conversation between activists. It was an interesting conversation. Very educational with many interesting topics. I have learned a lot about their vision of structural racism and how we fight the system together.

After these global protests which have led to some action taking place around the world, let’s not be blind and forget that we still have a long way to go! Those are small victories but there’s still a lot to be done for this whole institutional racism to be dismantled… It’s an ungoing battle and I’m definitely not going to stop supporting activists and stay silent about it.

Even during the whole pandemic of COVID-19 going on in the world, it has helped us to reflect more on the real issues that blacks and poc have experienced, because of that a lot of people are more awake and finally call out this systemic racism that’s perpetrated the underprivileged and unequal treatment towards blacks and people of color.

I’m relieved to see how much my generation is getting together to fight collectively and willingly to work towards equality for all… That’s why ‘All Lives can’t Matter until Black Lives Matter’! The attention should lead to awareness and meaningful conversations.

The joy of dancing

Here in Belgium the lockdown is slowly being eased since May 4th. It’s nice to see that life has been slowly resuming under strict measures obviously. I know that our ‘normal’ won’t be the same as how it used to be. We’re still living with uncertainties, I’m patiently waiting for this whole pandemic to be over with.

In the meantime, this week is going to be sunny! I have been trying to stick to my daily routines with some of the activities from the 5-day challenge.

For the first time I did my Afrodance workout with my little sister. It was really amazing, dancing with all our entire body, without focusing on any part in particular. I have always been doing cardio, tabata, HIIT and hiphop dance workouts but never a real African dance workout. I really enjoy the rhythm, the energy and the vibe!

The workout program that I’m now following and subscribed to is called Kukuwa Fitness. They have amazing versatile African dance workout routines (Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Nigeria…). I would really recommend checking out their youtube videos, but if you want some more videos they have them on their website. You need to subscribe if you want to participate in all their videos. I would say check their website!

The dance workout was so effective and vibrant. The routines are quite easy to do but damn halfway I was really out of breath! It was worth it.

I’ll say take your chance!

I have to admit, I have been sometimes slacking to keep my workout routines… but as we say ‘what is not started today is never finished tomorrow’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I know I keep saying tomorrow I’ll do the workout at least 3-4 times a week, and it ends up being 1- 2 times a week. 😛 The motivation needs to be there so I can kickstart my day with a positive mindset and confidence.

Love the fact that I have been doing this workout with my sister, normally we never workout together. Dancing with her brought a lot of joy and fun into this routine. I wasn’t too distracted with my tiredness because of her. I found it more motivating to do this together instead of alone.

Afterwards I followed a yoga session to stretch my muscles after an intense workout. Yoga outside under the sun while listening to the wind blowing and the trees moving. It was very relaxing, I had a zen moment and felt the connection with my body and soul. It’s an amazing feeling and felt more energized than ever.

It is a good way to distract myself from social media at times…

I was even thinking to go out to the city tomorrow for the first time since this lockdown started. I stay cautious even though I built immunity. Face masks are compulsory in public transport and in some shops too. It feels to me that there’s never a guarantee that this whole virus will be completely gone. There could be a second wave coming since this whole lockdown is slowly easing and more people are outside now than before, so it’s best to stay cautious. That’s why I don’t go out too quickly and still take those measures seriously…

I would say everyone out there! Stay safe and keep protecting yourself and others.

I can’t wait to see the rest of my friends and family! ❤

We’ll definitely going to celebrate after the lockdown has completely ended! 🙂 😀

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