Vermont Community Galvanizes Around Creating Support Systems and Solutions for Refugees Who Are Victims of Torture


“Recently a group of Vermonters who work with refugees, asylum seekers and new immigrants have joined in a collaborative effort to ensure that Vermont’s torture survivors get access to all the medical, psychological, legal and social services they deserve. The group, called New England Survivors of Torture and Trauma, or NESTT, has been quietly working behind the scenes to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to providing those services.”
-from “Out of Darkness” by Ken Picard of Seven Days

Ken Picard has a in-depth (and moving) article in this week’s Seven Days about how the Vermont community is developing successful means of helping African refugees who have been victims of torture.

Patrick Giantonio, executive director of Vermont Immigration and Asylum Advocates and one of the founders of NESTT, estimates that between 50 and 75 percent of his clients are torture survivors, most of whom have never sought treatment.

NESTT is just one organization that is leading the charge to offer assistance and counsel. NESTT will:

“…host a three-day training seminar for various social-service providers — educators, medical and mental-health professionals, lawyers, social workers and so on — who work with Vermont’s refugee population. Already, NESTT’s team of graduate psychology students at the University of Vermont is providing counseling to recent immigrants who’ve had trouble coming to grips with their painful pasts. Though it’s long and difficult work, those who offer such counseling all say they’re amazed by the resilience and courage of their clients and their ability to lead normal lives now.”

Read the entire article for a peak into how one small city is becoming a model for dealing with victims of torture.

*Image by Seven Days.


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