Psychological Interventions in Times of Crisis

By Laura Barbanel; Robert J. Sternberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
The Mobile Member Care Team as
a Means of Responding to Crises
West Africa

Karen F. Carr


AN AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGIST
WORKING IN WEST AFRICA

I woke up at about 4 a.m. the morning of September 19, 2002, in Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire, to the sound of machine guns. Our multidisciplinary team of three, known as the Mobile Member Care Team, had just begun leading a workshop for 14 cross-cultural workers, teaching them how to facilitate Sharpening Your Interpersonal Skills workshops (Williams, 2002) across West Africa. My first thought as I lay in bed and listened to the exchange of gunfire in the distance was that the gang of robbers who had been terrorizing the city for almost a year had finally been trapped and that they were having a shootout with the police. But, as the gunfire became more intense and went on and on, I began to suspect that we might be having another attempted coup in the country. The radio news at 6 a.m. confirmed that rebels were attacking government troops in three strategic locations in the country, including Bouaké, the city where we were training. This was the beginning of an 8–day siege that kept us trapped in a building, caught in the crossfire between government and rebel troops until we were finally evacuated out of Bouaké by French soldiers. When we got out, we were exhausted and in need of care. This time, instead of being the ones to provide the debriefing and care, we were on the receiving end of it. And we were ready for it.

-75-

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