Pilot telephone counselling training for North Pacific wraps up

‘Because of this training, I am more confident about going into telephone counselling.’

‘Not only have I had the pleasure of meeting new partners and beautiful women from other neighbouring islands via Zoom but, more importantly, [I am] able to pick their brain and learn about their ways of counselling and areas I can improve on,’ shared Daniya Note, counsellor/caseworker with Women United Together Marshall Islands’ (WUTMI) Weto in Mour.

WUTMI staff – left to right: Daniya Note; Tanya Terry; Candida Kaious.

This week, the Pacific Women Support Unit wraps-up the sixth and final remote counselling training session with counsellor/caseworkers from the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

Participants attended from RMI’s Women United Together Marshall Islands (WUTMI) and FSM’s Chuuk Women’s Council (CWC), which both operate crisis support centres for survivors of violence against women and children, providing counselling and caseworker support.

These are the only crisis support centers in each country, ensuring survivors have the support they need. Pacific Women is proud to support both CWC and WUTMI, with funding and technical assistance from its Support Unit.

Contact the CWC’s Tongen Inepwineu Counseling Center on 930-3495 or 930-3492.  Contact WUTMI’s Weto in Mour service on 456-1724 or 455-1724.

Usually provided face-to-face at their centres, the two counselling services have been adapting in response to COVID-19 to ensure continued support to survivors of gender-based violence, especially those who cannot visit the centre due to lockdown, curfews or other impacts of COVID-19.

The training over the last six weeks has been a timely opportunity, especially as both now provide 24-hour telephone counselling.

CWC staff – left to right, top row: Eleanor Mori; Marivic Preciado; Lestina Berdon. Left to right, bottom row (seated): Eleanor Sos; Jayrene Engichy.

CWC is new to this field, as it only opened its Tongen Inepwineu Counseling Center (TICC) in March 2020. ‘Basically, everything is new to us,’ explained Marivic Preciado, TICC assistant counsellor/caseworker. ‘The only challenge we face is the technical issues. I feel excited about learning more.’

For Jayrene Engichy, coordinator of CWC’s young women’s program, the limited time and different form of training has also been a challenge. ‘We want more time on the [phone counselling] role plays,’ she said. ‘We want to explore more. It’s really something I really want to [know more about].’

The remote training also provides the opportunity for the advisers facilitating the training as well as WUTMI and CWC staff to connect, to share ideas and support each other. Some have been stranded outside their country of residence, or country where they work, as a result of border closures that are part of COVID-19 response measures.

Candida Kaious, Weto in Mour program coordinator, is one of these participants. Currently in the United States of America, she said the time difference and internet connection are sometimes challenging but ‘understanding the differences between phone and face-to-face counselling’ makes her excited. ‘Now we, as counsellors, know and understand why is it different. Also getting to know everyone is another thing that excites me. It is very hard for me to communicate through emails with persons that I have not officially met. But after getting to know each and every one, I feel more confident and open.’

‘I understand how much time and work goes into the planning, getting everyone to meet and learn from one another,’ reflected Eleanor Mori, TICC coordinator. ‘It’s an interesting way to meet and it’s something to look forward to.’

The pilot training, comprising six modules delivered over six weeks, is part of the continued capacity support and development of staff within CWC and WUTMI, as Pacific Women partners. The training was co-facilitated by Wilma Eileen, Pacific Women Capacity Development Adviser: Gender-Based Violence (Federated States of Micronesia and Republic of the Marshall Islands), Georgina Galbraith, Pacific Women Capacity Development Adviser: Gender-Based Violence (Nauru and Tuvalu) and Sonali Owen, Pacific Women Family Protection Adviser (Federated States of Micronesia).

Pacific Women advisers – left to right: Wilma Eileen; Georgina Galbraith; Sonali Owen.