Online Service Provides Free Counseling for Europe’s Refugees


psychological support

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 25, 2015 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — An Internet group therapy service has initiated a program to provide psychological support for the thousands of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa who are currently trekking across Europe seeking new homes. In cooperation with the Adelina Foundation and Friends Beyond Borders, Growthnet, a U.S. company that offers various kinds of group counseling via web conferencing, is offering no-cost online sessions to any refugee who applies, according to its CEO, John Toomey.

“These people are entering Europe with all kinds of needs,” Toomey says. “The governments in Europe are overcome with just handling practical things like food and shelter, so psychological and emotional traumas associated with the journey often go untreated. Some of these people have crossed the Mediterranean in leaky boats, been beaten by traffickers, and lost loved ones along the way. As long as we are able, we will help them adjust.”

Key to the program’s success is translation software newly developed by

The refugees typically speak languages like Arabic, Kurdish, Berber, and Hausa, and cannot understand therapists who speak only European languages. The new software allows the counselor to speak German, English, French, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Greek, or Russian, but the client can read the therapist’s words in real time on their Smart phone or computer screen in Arabic, Turkish, Azeri, Swahili, or several other languages.

“Most people from the Middle East come from countries where psychotherapy is not common,” says Soani Gunawan, language director for the project. “So being able to communicate with them in their own tongue can be critical not only to make them comfortable, but to allow them to see why counseling can be immensely beneficial to them during the kinds of ordeals they are facing.”

An additional benefit to using the immediate translation software is that clients become more at ease with the native language of the country they are entering. A typical interaction, for example, is a German speaking therapist counseling an Arabic-speaking client. Since Germany is interested in assimilating refugees who qualify to remain as permanent residents, such an interaction is useful in helping the migrant learn a new tongue, since they are hearing the host language (German) at the same time as they read the target language (Arabic).

Plans are in the works to extend the program to other refugee crises, such as those facing the Rohingya in Southeast Asia, and Hutu and Tutsi peoples in Rwanda and Congo.

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NEWS SOURCE Friends Beyond Borders :: This press release was issued on behalf of the news source (who is solely responsible for its accuracy) by and Copr. © 2015 Send2Press® Newswire, a service of Neotrope®.

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Harvard, Oxford Students Building New Network for Planetary Change


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 16, 2012 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Students from Harvard and Oxford, in cooperation with the World Mind Network, Peer to Peer Media Group, and the Creative Commons Initiative, are building a new social network dedicated to using advanced Web and Smart Phone tools to achieve goals in social change, academic research, environmental improvement, education, cultural preservation, and worldwide online discussion of important issues.

According to World Mind Network Co-Director Sarah Mendel, many of the students were attendees at events sponsored by HSMBB (The Harvard Society for Mind, Brain, and Behavior). Other participants include Dr. Javier Ogembo of the Harvard Medical School and Irina Higgins of the Oxford Foundation for Theoretical Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence.

Texting, tweeting, Facebooking, microblogging, online video and cell phone apps are not new to students. What is new is the efficient use of all their capabilities in combination to reach important aims in a few hours which the traditional brick-and-mortar academic world would take months or years to accomplish.

The key is the creation of protocols which serve as formulae for easily setting up Internet based projects which achieve well-defined goals, are infinitely replicable, grow by themselves through social networks, and enable each student to carve out a Web niche which serves as the Internet’s focal point for the student’s chosen issue. In practice, this means that each student is experimenting with making their work more public, and yet more personal, at the same time.

Says WMN advisor Wolfram Ruisdael “The Cloud of knowledge, creativity, innovation, and even wisdom represented by the Internet is now incomprehensibly vast. Its power to solve both traditional and new human problems is almost infinite, but until now Humanity has not really demanded the efficient use of it to refine theories instantly, generate new ideas, build communities, and get innovative thinking from where it originates to where it is needed. Students, because of their familiarity with these technologies, are the natural creators of the new change-making networks.”

Other student participants have come from Duke, Caltech, Rutgers, the Ecole Polytechnique in France, Beijing and Tsinghua Universities in China, the University of Delhi, the Federal University of Parana in Brazil, and the University of Witwatersrand.

Crucial to many of the new protocols are programs like Apple’s Siri artificial intelligence app for the iPhone 4s, Facebook’s Timeline, Google+, Pinterest, and msnNOW.

A typical protocol is this one for Disaster Relief, which the network used during the 20ll Fukushima earthquake and tsunami in Japan, as well as more recent floods in Thailand and the Philippines:
1. Create a landing page on Google sites with RSS feeds of latest news, including links to on-site organizations which need help;
2. Use search engines to find and rank current Twitter trackers for affected area;
3. Do the same for Facebook post monitors;
4. Do the same for SMS (texting) monitors;
5. Collate trackers on a Bing map so that rescuers can be connected with victims in real time;
6. publicize site with online press releases.

Similar protocols exist for cloud-based research projects, cultural preservation programs, Fair Trade social enterprises, crowd-sourced experiments, worldwide philosophical discussions, knowledge matrices, artistic collaborations, and environmental improvement projects. Each can be created in a few hours, and further streamlining is an ongoing process.

Among other programs, students have participated in projects which:

- Aid Stanford physicists in predicting sunspot cycles;

- Created the world’s largest collection of pre-1900 archival French audio recordings and preserved them with iTunes and Windows Media files;

- Explore the new PS3 video game ‘Journey’ as an art therapy tool

- Advised legislators in Nepal who are re-framing the national constitution;

- Built the world’s largest online crowd-sourced environmental investigation which discovered several causes for a sudden fish die-off in Taal Lake in the Philippines, and suggested treatments which were successfully implemented.

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