Niger. Hamsa's revenge thanks to the psychological support of the RALLIER project
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10-07-2024 | di COOPI

Niger. Hamsa's revenge thanks to the psychological support of the RALLIER project

In the small village of Bebji, located in the Maradi region of Niger, lives Mrs. Hamsa, a 45-year-old shopkeeper known throughout Soukkou for her ability to run her store well, and considered "a mother" to all because of her community spirit. Unfortunately, her extreme generosity was scammed by some villagers, leading her to a personal and financial crisis that later resulted in serious mental health problems. It is thanks to the practitioners of the “Strengthening adaptable local emergency response initiatives to support affected populations in the Sahel (RALLIER)” project, funded by the British government (UK Aid Direct, a fund of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office), that Hamsa received the support she needed to get her life back on track.

With an implementation period from May 2023 to August 2025, the RALLIER project is implemented by a consortium of organizations, including Mercy Corps, COOPI - International Cooperation, and AMSODE. The project aims to increase access to food assistance, essential nutrition, health, and protection services, and strengthen the resilience of vulnerable populations affected by conflict and climate change in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

What led Hamsa to severe mental distress was the gradual deterioration of her finances, caused by the deceitful behavior of some villagers who would ask her for credits in kind or money, then disappear without returning anything. Hamsa, previously always ready to offer a hot meal and financial help to the needy, began to show obvious signs of crisis, reaching the point where she could no longer run her business properly.

The concern raised among her family members was the spark that started her on her path to treatment. Her brother, noticing the worsening psychological disorders, decided to seek help by first taking her to a marabout in Maine Soroa. However, despite the attempts, her condition was not improving. It was during a conversation with friends that the brother learned of the existence of psychologists working at the Maine youth center. He immediately sought information, and the next day he accompanied Hamsa to the center, where the therapy sessions that would mark the beginning of her recovery finally began.

After two sessions, Hamsa was referred to the Integrated Health Center, where health workers, with training in the medical management of psychological disorders specifically carried out by COOPI-supported experts in mental health and psychosocial support, administered medical treatment. The RALLIER project team then continued to visit her regularly at home, giving her adequate time and care.

Hamsa has now resumed her previous activities, and is able to take care of her store. Her rebirth is a clear example of the positive impact of the RALLIER project, which has enabled Hamsa to regain her dignity and continue to be a valuable asset to her community.

Mental health promotion is a crucial area of intervention for COOPI, which has been present in Niger since 2012 and since then has been implementing activities to promote basic health, mental health, and psychological support, among many other initiatives. COOPI is active with listening centers and psychological support at both the community and individual levels, primarily targeting refugees, asylum seekers, and displaced persons, as well as with primary primary care, preventive, therapeutic, and psychosocial support initiatives for survivors of gender-based violence. In addition, COOPI provides support to local health systems to strengthen primary health care services, with direct community involvement.