A Place of Healing and Restoration
The Hill Wellness Center, named after a teenage boy who has dealt with a chronic disease for the past several years, is a ground-breaking project that will provide hope, healing, and a safe space for our children at the Tree of Life! At 4,000 sq feet, which is 10x’s the size of our current modular clinic, and with 15 spacious rooms, the Hill Wellness Center will provide countless ways to engage and care for children dealing with health issues and trauma through both medical and psychosocial care.
Virtually every child who resides at the Tree of Life Children’s Village has endured some type of trauma, abuse, or abandonment in their past. Some of the traumatic experiences our children have dealt with include:
- Sexual abuse
- Complex trauma
- Bereavement (grief)
- HIV (disclosure, coping, adherence)
- Identity/ self-esteem issues
- Anger management
- Adjustment issues
- Attachment problems
The good news is that research is clear that children are resilient and can thrive in spite of their experiences of trauma and abuse if they are provided with developmentally appropriate therapy and given an adequate repertoire of coping skills!
Before the Hill Wellness Center, our team of 7 Zambian counselors had to hold counseling sessions with children outdoors or inside a child’s home, which didn’t provide confidentiality or safety for the kids and greatly compromised the therapeutic process. In addition, our current medical clinic does not have running water or the capacity for our children to receive overnight medical care. The Hill Wellness Center will be a comfortable and inviting space that will feel safe to children of all ages and will provide them with comprehensive medical and psychosocial care. Bright soothing colors, kid-friendly furniture, dedicated play and art therapy space, and soothing art and decor will all provide an optimal medical and therapeutic environment for our kids.
The center will have multiple child-friendly medical exam and treatment rooms, which will allow for our children to receive more comprehensive medical care, including overnight stays. In addition, the center will contain a full pharmacy. The center will also host multiple individual psychosocial therapy rooms, which will provide kids the assurance of both confidentiality and safety. Therapy rooms will be outfitted with child- and teen-friendly furniture and will allow counselors to conduct numerous types of therapeutic activities with kids of all ages. The center will also have a dedicated room for group therapy sessions and activities. The administration will also become centralized, which will greatly increase the efficiency and impact of all our medical and counseling providers. In all, the facility will host 3 American and up to 20 Zambian staff working full-time at Tree of Life.
Our psychosocial care approach at the Hill Wellness Center is led by Katie McGinnis, our new Director of Psychosocial Services, and will be centered on the formation of trusting therapeutic relationships between the kids at Tree of Life and our team of dedicated counselors. We will use the center to provide every child at TOL with a safe, non-threatening physical space in which to build trust with the counselors and to engage in tailored psychosocial care interventions. We will utilize standardized assessment tools and techniques to identify the major psychosocial concerns each child is dealing with. We plan to utilize a large repertoire of evidence-based counseling techniques and therapeutic activities (i.e.- sand tray therapy, art & play-based techniques, bibliotherapy, etc.) to engage kids in developmentally appropriate individual and group interventions that will enable them to process through and successfully cope with their traumatic experiences. We plan to consistently monitor and re-assess all of our kids’ psychological and emotional progress through annual multidisciplinary evaluations.
We are very optimistic that this new approach and a new center with space dedicated to both medical and psychosocial care will enable us to meet the psychological and emotional needs of the children at TOL much more effectively in the future and will result in less behavioral discharges, children who run away, and various other negative outcomes.
The grand opening of The Hill Wellness Center will be July 14th and we have no doubt that this will be a life-changing endeavor for every single child living at the Tree of Life. We are rejoicing in God’s goodness as He provides for His children, once again!