Story by Leoncie Kampire
Kampire, a sociotherapist from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), supports a number of people every day in Gihembe Refugee Camp.
Even with these relationships, Kampire felt weighed down by her problems. Insomnia kept her up at night, she would burst into tears over small things, and sometimes spent days in bed, feeling that there was no one with whom she could share her feelings.
The hardest part of sociotherapy was finding the trust to share her burdens. Even though Kampire had gone through sociotherapist training, opening up didn’t come naturally at first. Six weeks into the session Kampire was facilitating, another woman shared about her experiences growing up as an orphan. As an orphan herself, Kampire was deeply affected by hearing another person’s experience which was so similar to her own. She tried to maintain her role as sociotherapist by restraining her emotions, but developed a terrible headache during the session, and sobbed once she got home.
However, over the course of sociotherapy, she’s learned to trust others with her burdens and in turn listen attentively. She no longer takes sides in a conflict based on which person she likes better, but tries to understand both sides of the story so she can mediate well.
This has also allowed her to be more gracious to people she doesn’t get along with. For instance, a widow in her neighborhood seemed to be singularly focused on disturbing Kampire’s life, which was frustrating. Now, Kampire recognizes the difficulty of being a widow in a refugee camp, and understands that the neighbor’s aggravation is probably a result of the adversity of her circumstances, which makes being patient easier. If Kampire could tell her younger self one thing, it would be to not keep things to herself. “There are bad people in life, but there are also good people”, Kampire says, and “most of the time I’ve gotten something good, it’s come from someone else’s hands.”
A story written by Anna Gwin