An Arts Based Strategy That Promotes the Healing of Traumatized Children in Sub-Saharan Africa: Expressive Arts with Distressed Children

By Gloria Simoneaux.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

AIDS, war and famine have redefined childhood in Sub-Saharan Africa. By 2010, an estimated 40 million African children will have suffered the death of a parent. There are few programs or resources available that enable teachers and health professionals to meet the enormous and growing needs of these traumatized children. Harambee Arts’ programs provide opportunities to understand the long-term social impact of the AIDS pandemic and to explore new strategies that can foster the emotional recovery of traumatized children. The global community’s awareness of the epidemic’s devastating psychological impact on an entire generation of African youth has been slow to develop. It is widely accepted by medical professionals that orphans and vulnerable children need more than mere practical assistance in order to heal and become contributing members of society. The younger the child is who experiences great loss, the less that child is capable of verbalizing her sorrow; without some outlet to do so, few will emerge psychologically intact. Harambee Arts develops and implements cost-effective psycho-social interventions that promote healing of the psychological trauma of devastating loss. Expressive arts provide a non-threatening way for children to tell their stories and begin emotional recovery. The children’s creations ground and organize their thoughts and feelings while communicating their experiences to others. Using accessible and affordable art materials, Ms. Simoneaux trains artists and caregivers how to create a safe environment that can help children externalize their traumatic experiences in a psychologically healthy way. Our principal goal is to foster the development and widespread employment of arts education programs and expressive arts therapy techniques that will improve the lives of traumatized African children.

Keywords: Traumatized Children, Expressive Arts, Art Therapy, Sub-Saharan Africa

The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.17-26. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.279MB).

Gloria Simoneaux

Founder/Executive Director, Program Development, Administration, Harambee Arts: Let’s Pull Together, San Rafael, CA, USA

Gloria Simoneaux, MA, REAT, EXA, is the founder of Harambee Arts: Let’s Pull Together (, a training program for caregivers in Sub-Saharan Africa. In 1989 she founded DrawBridge: An Arts Program for Homeless Children ( and served as the Executive Director until January, 2008. In 1981 she designed expressive arts programs for pediatric oncology patients at the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and at the University of California’s Moffitt Hospital, also in San Francisco. She received a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology and an honorary degree in Expressive Arts Therapy from The California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Simoneaux teaches at JFK University in Orinda, California, at the Kenya Association of Professional Counselors and at CONNECT Institute of Family Systems in Harare, Zimbabwe. Recently she has collaborated with several psychiatric institutions in Havana, Cuba and she is currently a Fulbright scholar, lecturing and doing research in Kenya.


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