Trauma Healing in Arcatao El Salvador

Please support healing and wellbeing for survivors of war and ongoing violence, in Arcatao, El Salvador!

People in Madison's sister city of Arcatao El Salvador have asked for mental health support to help in healing from trauma caused by the civilian massacres of the US-backed civil war of 1979-1992, and trauma from the ongoing violence that has plagued their country in the years since then.  They want to create a culture of healing, connection, and safety in Arcatao, so that younger people will be more able to stay and raise their families there, rather than feeling the need to leave El Salvador and make the dangerous trip north to the U.S.  

The El Salvador Mental Health Project is a group of people from the US, El Salvador, and China who are bringing  to Arcatao workshops and trainings in body-centered methods for healing from trauma.
The project is affiliated with UW Madison and includes activists from the Madison Arcatao Sister City Project.  

Funded by an initial grant received by Dr. David Rosenthal, professor of rehabilitation psychology at UW Madison, we have made three trips to Arcatao in 2018 and 2019 in response to requests from people in the community.  We plan to continue this project in Arcatao, then work with Salvadoran members of the project to expand to other communities that are interested. 

The first two trips to Arcatao provided opportunities to learn more about people’s stories and the kinds of resources they were seeking.  A third trip, in January 2019, brought to Arcatao Rosy Manzano, a Salvadoran psychologist, and Clare Norelle, a bilingual trauma sensitive yoga teacher from Madison, to co-lead a series of workshops on body-centered healing from trauma. 

These workshops were offered as a pilot project, with community members participating in them and evaluating them afterwards, sharing their ideas for how they wanted to see this work evolve. Based on their feedback, we have continued to develop three main components of the project on a volunteer basis, while seeking further funding.

First, as a psychologist living and working in nearby Chalatenango, Rosy has been returning to Arcatao two to three times a month, leading workshops in which people share their stories, practice gentle movement and breathing exercises, and enjoy fun activities that help strengthen their sense of connection and solidarity with each other.

Meanwhile in response to requests from community members, Clare has been recording a series of Spanish language presentations on trauma and body centered healing, as well as short videos of Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga (TCTSY) the evidence-based adjunct treatment for complex trauma which she shared with people in Arcatao in January.  Videos of these presentations and yoga practices will be made available online for people in Arcatao this summer.

In July 2019 Rosy and Clare will meet in California to be trained in the Community Resiliency Model (CRM), a popular-education approach to preventing and healing from trauma, through the Trauma Resource Institute. This approach will be an important addition to the project, as it will allow Rosy, Clare, and others to train people in Arcatao in trauma prevention and healing skills that they can share throughout the community and then with other communities as well. 

Which brings us to you!  While all of us are currently involved in this project on a volunteer basis, and some have paid for additional travel and trainings to deepen this work, we hope to provide stipends for our Salvadoran partners who are continuing the project in Arcatao.  US-based members of the team also hope to raise money to pay for a return trip to Arcatao in December 2019, to offer more workshops, trauma-sensitive yoga classes, and trainings in the CRM model of trauma prevention and healing. 

Can you make a donation to support our ongoing work in Arcatao, and to cover travel costs for our trip there in December? 

We hope to raise $3,000 - $8,000 by September 2019.  $3,000 will cover travel costs for Clare and another member of the US team to travel to Arcatao to offer Community Resiliency Model trainings with Rosy Manzano, teaching skills that community members can share with each other and continue to develop with Rosy's support.  With more funding we can provide stipends for team members who live in El Salvador and are continuing the work, and possibly also bring two other US members of the  team to Arcatao to help with the project in December.

Thank you for anything that you can give, to support this work and to help create a more healthy and sustainable community in Arcatao!

To learn more about Trauma Center Trauma Yoga (TCTSY) you can go here:

To learn more about the Community Resiliency Model (CRM) and the Trauma Resource Institute, you can go here: 



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Clare Norelle 
Madison, WI
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