After the art assignment that day, I perceived a change in the students, as they started to pray more often for the victims of violence on the border. Like Felipe, there are other residents of Juarez who deeply desire to express their suffering after losing their loved ones during the drug war. Unfortunately, the communities that have suffered the most violence are located in one of the most impoverished zones in Juarez and lack free mental health services. What could be done for them?
Fr. Antonio Urrutia, a Catholic priest who serves for the parish of Christ Sun of Justice in
Juarez, has been working with the victims of violence in Juarez’s most impoverished areas. Fr. Urrutia recommends a pastoral care that listens, prays, and remembers the victim’s painful loss. He also stresses the importance of promoting forgiveness as a way of reconciliation. He believes it is urgent to provide occupational therapy for the young victims of violence.
Fr. Urrutia says:
“The majority of the young people in this community spend their afternoons watching telenovelas (soap operas) or other television sitcoms. The urgency of establishing a center for traumatized patients in the border is high. Young communities in traumatized cities need to relieve their anxiety, depression, and grief in an artistic manner that aids them to open their imagination.”
I highly recommend ministers to incorporate art expressions in their pastoral plans while working with communities that have been severely traumatized by violence. Young traumatized male communities can well express their anguish through art expressions that include poetry, music, painting, and writing. Because these traumatized communities on the border have seen their community life suffer due to the extreme violence that affected Juarez, a minister can organize a concert or an art show in honor of the victims for the community. Traumatized communities use these events to express their grief through the arts and create a sense of solidarity. With the help of well-prepared ministers, art therapy can become the means to help them understand the unconditional love of God.
Note from ICTG: Art therapy is a form of communicating what has happened after trauma. Communication is one of three keys to healing as discussed in the ICTG blog post, "Seven Traits of Trauma-Informed Congregations". Even more in-depth information on incorporating trauma-informed communication into your ministry can be found in the ICTG Resource Guides, available to all ICTG Affiliates.