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Trauma healing training in prison


My name is Meskerem from Harar, Ethiopia. I am serving 16 years’ imprisonment in Debre Berhan prison for committing a crime. By taking part in a trauma healing training in prison, I have helped many women and girls feel relief from their trauma.

I had a poor relationship with my husband, which only worsened due to our different religions. When we divorced, my two sons and I moved in with my parents. My husband supported our children, however, he had to stop after a car accident seriously injured him. It was during this time that I was convicted of the crime I committed. Moreover, my father passed away and my children began living with my brother. My sister, who was living abroad, also supported my children. Unfortunately, she passed away in a car accident that same year. I was heartbroken! It was very difficult time in my life because I could not bury my father and my sister. 

I felt hopeless, yet my brother encouraged and consoled me during these challenges.

My brother and three of his friends were mobilizing relief resources for people affected by the conflict in northern Ethiopia when they were all killed by an armed group in the Kemisse zone. I was so traumatized when I heard the news, I could not stand up. My life felt meaningless and I lost all hope in living. I had lost my only comfort and support. My situation in prison, my children’s challenges, the loss of my family (brother, sister and father) devastated me. I asked myself: Why are all these challenges happening to me?

I learnt about Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) Prison Ministry and took part in a post-trauma healing training facilitated by Asalefew Wolde. When the training started, I could not control my tears; I thought the trainer was reading my own heart. The stress and trauma gradually left me and I started to feel relief. The lessons transformed my life and healed me from traumatic stress. Now, I am leading my life in a better way.

I have hope again! I am so thankful for the training I received.

Because the trauma healing training was a Training of Trainers (ToT), I then facilitated the training for 48 of my fellow female inmates in Debre Berhan prison. I have helped many women and girls in the prison feel relief from traumatic experiences. Thank you, Asalefew and MKC, for helping me to build resilience and become useful to others.

Asalefew Wolde is an alumnus of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API) 2019 Annual Training. He used his skills learnt, for example in Introduction to Conflict Transformation and Emergency Preparedness and Response Team (EPRT), to facilitate a training for 64 community and religious leaders across three towns in northern Ethiopia. The trainees from Ataye then cascaded the same training to 185 inmates and community members. The trainees from Debre Berhan prison, like Meskerem, cascaded the training to 90 inmates (48 Female inmates and 42 Male inmates). Moreover, the male inmates will conduct a training of trainers to over 1,700 more men in Debre Berhan prison.

Submitted by: Asalefew Wolde, Peace Program Coordinator, MKC Prison Ministry

Date submitted: 31 May 2022

Location: Amhara region, Ethiopia

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