News Updates

IHOM-North America In The Time of COVID-19

18 May 2020


When March began, we were in a newly launched social media fundraising drive, planning workshops for veterans in Arizona and thinking through our approach to a capacity-building project with a large non-profit organization that would engage us in a process of training, mentoring, and, eventually, consulting.

Then suddenly, mid-March, everything came to a halt as we found ourselves sheltering in place, restricted from gatherings, and frightened as we watched the numbers of people infected and dying. Gloria Hage, our Executive Director, asked,” How can we serve in this time?”.  Margaret Fell, Chair of our Boardʻs Program committee, Mike Wold, IHOM-NAʻs volunteer Arizona Regional Coordinator and a group of our more experienced facilitators, along with Fr. Michael began to meet via Zoom to design a Zoom based program of support.

The format we decided on included a short introduction reiterating the basics of IHOM philosophy, and questions that invited sharing of feelings, coping strategies and self-care, and signs of hope. Sessions were originally planned for up to 15 participants, but we quickly learned that eight to 10 was a more workable number.

Veterans from Arizona who had participated in IHOM workshops were the first group to whom we offered support sessions. Their evaluations reflected decreased feelings of isolation and anxiety as well as appreciation for connection and opportunities to share feelings and challenges. The sessions were then made available to all veterans, then to any others who had participated in IHOM workshops and then to anyone who wanted to participate.

Participants continue to affirm the value of these sessions. Sessions are bringing together people from all over the country to share their experiences, feelings and hopes. Occasionally, weʻve welcomed participants from South Africa and Canada. 

We are offering two sessions weekly at different times co-facilitated by facilitators from all parts of the country as well as by Fr. Michael. One of our silver linings of the COVID-19 cloud has been that our weekly facilitator debriefing groups have brought us closer together. We are becoming a more cohesive group across distances as we work together through technology and get to know each other more deeply as we plan, work and debrief together.  Despite the restrictions of this time we have found ways to connect and to serve and our commitment to IHOM has deepened.

Building on the success of the Zoom support gatherings, we are preparing similar offerings for health care providers. As we consult with individuals and professional associations in the health care field we are developing facilitator training to increase our understanding of the conditions and issues faced by biomedical providers and to strengthen our facilitating skills. We are unsure when these support sessions will begin, but we look forward to supporting the courageous men and women who have been on the front lines of battling for the lives of those infected with COVID-19.

About Us

The Institute for the Healing of Memories seeks to contribute to the healing journey of individuals, communities and nations. Our work is grounded in the belief that we are all in need of healing, because of what we have done, what we have failed to do, and what has been done to us.

Contact Us

  • Institute for Healing of Memories
    5 Eastry Road, Claremont,
    Cape Town, 7708, South Africa

  • +27 21 683 6231