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SYNC founder Jana V. Pinto has pioneered the eResilience approach since her work with Liberian refugees in 2008, and graduates of her inaugural cohort now lead the organization’s Liberia-based programs. Between 2009-2013, SYNC’s staff ran programs in the capital Monrovia’s poorest neighborhoods, schools, orphanages, hospitals, and prison, often with little or no budget. All of that is changing with the app, and the organization’s new focus on medical research and rigorous scientific methods to advance trauma care response in humanitarian emergencies.
“Creating an app of our eResilience program helps us to standardize the protocol so that facilitators know they’re supported in preparing for and leading the groups. This is going to allow us to scale not just in Liberia, but across Africa and around the world.”
The eResilience clinical approach is based on a neurophysiological framework that targets the synchronization of dysregulated brain processes and impaired cognitive and interpersonal dynamics caused by traumatic experiences. A combination of mindful body-based exercises, executive function and interpersonal tasks from various evidence-based models are intercalated during a 7-day program. Its flexible curriculum is designed for adaptation cross-culturally, and the simplicity of each task, such as regulating breathing, muscle relaxation, planning and community engagement, enables lay community health workers to successfully lead the curriculum after a short 2-day training.
In prioritizing the safety of participants, the program does not include a discussion of trauma, nor encourages sharing of traumatic experiences among its members. Rather, it promotes a fun environment that resembles a casual community gathering to learn new skills, rather than a group therapy session.
A clinical trial examining brain changes after the eResilience curriculum is currently taking place in Australia with refugees from Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan. Software engineers from Enspiral Dev Academy stepped up to develop the app pro bono under a tight deadline, contributing their time and expertise so that the product could be realized.
“I am thrilled we were able to help out people doing such needed work at short notice,” says Joshua Vial, Enspiral Dev Academy’s technical co-founder. “I have rarely seen technical projects that were so clearly defined with such demonstrable impact, it was a delight to build and we would love to help more of our graduates find meaningful opportunities to volunteer.”
Code Innovation has been a partner in co-creating the app platform since 2014 when Pinto and Calhoun began to collaborate in the wake of the Ebola crisis to support the mental health of affected communities. Code Innovation was proud to be the project’s technical advisor in the early stages, helping the values of the Digital Principles and the best practices of the ICT4D community guide the project.
“Working in Liberia, we saw the impact that SYNC’s programs have on communities’ ability to recover after the horrors of war,” says Code’s Elie Calhoun, Director of Operations. “The eResilience model resources people so that they can cope with the aftermath of war and get on with their lives. I’ve seen the impact and it is absolutely game-changing, which is why we had to digitize the approach and help it scale.”
The eResilience app is now in beta and available only to select partner organizations.
About Code Innovation: Code Innovation consults with the private and public sector on systems strengthening, with a focus on equity. We leverage the power of exponential organizations and our developers span three continents (Africa, Europe and Asia) and over a dozen countries. Code Innovation digitizes and scales programs that help vulnerable populations. We create free and open source platforms with educational materials and social innovations that enable communities to lift themselves out of poverty. For more information about our work, visit http://www.codeinnovation.com.
About SYNC Body-Brain Health: SYNC is a research-based non-profit organization bridging neuroscience, culture, and technology to advance trauma emergency response worldwide. Evolving from the decade-long clinical work of Second Chance Africa providing traumatic stress relief in war-impacted communities, SYNC brings robust science in the nonprofit sector to validate best practices. Our mission is to develop and evaluate evidence-based treatment and diagnostic solutions for underrepresented traumatized populations, and through effective partnerships, scale solutions free of charge to service providers in the frontline of humanitarian emergency response in Africa and around the world. SYNCBodyBrain.org
About Enspiral Dev Academy: Enspiral Dev Academy is New Zealand’s premiere full immersion web development school, pioneering hands-on technology education and career development. Learners gain a grounding in web development through a 12-week remote preparation phase, then level up to become world class beginners during an intensive 9-week in-class boot camp. Learners graduate with the tools to become junior web developers, build online projects, and lend invaluable support to game-changing organizations such as SYNC. If you’d like to gain these skills, apply today. For more information visit http://www.devacademy.co.nz
For more information:
Elie Calhoun, Principal, Code Innovation, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jana V. Pinto, Founder, SYNC Body-Brain Health, Email: email@example.com