By the Numbers
It’s amazing what a single donation and three months in Pakistan can accomplish!
Pat Omidian has made many trips to Pakistan on behalf of Focusing Initiatives International (FII). Her last one, for three months in early 2017, was made possible by a grant from a single FII supporter, and was particularly productive!
That visit began with Pat connecting with faculty and students of the Behavioral Sciences Department at The National University of Science and Technology (NUST). Then, through former contacts, she worked with universities, community groups, health professionals and individuals, addressing community wellness and psychosocial support processes with each group.
Pakistan is a society where personal connections matter, and because of this, most people with ideas for programs for Pat to offer waited for her to arrive before any planning even started. Yet, by the end of her first month, her calendar was full!
One training, for example, included a daylong workshop for teachers on giving psychosocial support to children in their classrooms. Using an experiential approach, she helped the teachers get in touch with their own psychosocial needs and those of their families, as well as the children in the classroom.
Embedded in each connection, training, and program was the empathic, non-judgmental process called Focusing, with the following elements:
- What their body wants for the day’s workshop;
- Gratitude and where that is in the body; and
- Safe calm place and being with gratitude in that place.
In just a few months of doing Community Wellness work in Pakistan, Pat interacted with more than 1,000 people.
The teachers learned positive psychology techniques that could be used with students, like “inner weather” and “coloring emotions”. Participants noted they had a great deal of fun as they learned new ways to approach students in class. But one of the older teachers, a man, had a very serious, specific concern. He wanted to know how to keep students from being radicalized and turning into extremists. We believe that the roles of listening and wellness are keys to addressing this problem.
Pat was honored (and quite excited) to be invited to speak at the Surgeon General’s International Conference on Health and the Social Contract. It was attended by over one thousand health care practitioners and students from medical universities throughout the country, as well as leaders in the health field from many other countries. She gave a talk on the importance of community wellness, prevention and psychosocial support for mental health. It was well received; the medical leadership asked if it would be possible to bring community wellness and psychosocial support training to teachers across Pakistan. Her answer was: “Yes, of course.” Subsequently, Pat and her colleagues at NUST submitted a proposal on how that could be done.
Another example of this work happened on one of her last days in Pakistan, when she was asked to give a one-day self-care training to members of the Gender-based Violence Task Force for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (a province in Pakistan that borders Afghanistan). Seventeen participants traveled to Islamabad on a Saturday to meet with Pat and to experience “Guesthouse Focusing”. One group member, a Pakistani Christian asked if FII could offer this training to their small non-profit (NGO) organization. What a wonderful opportunity! We hope to follow up on this and other projects that Pat assisted with in Pakistan.
The Chair of this Task Force sent the following letter after the event: