WHY WE've joined
An effective project needs a good back office and people with a heart that keep the work going. Here we introduce you to our international team:
Dr. Ann-Katrin Bockmann
University of Hildesheim, Germany
„In March 2020, I was allowed to work with female artists from a refugee camp in Jordan. All of the women had to flee Syria under the most difficult circumstances. They’ve been living for years under confined living conditions in closely guarded camps in the middle of the desert.
They expressed the sorrow that they had experienced and suffered under for years. They told us, how hard it was to find their own way, to survive and to take care of
the children in Zaatari Camp – despite the severe depression and dominance of their men.
One of the artists had brought her daughter, who became a mother with 16 years of age, and asked me for a private talk. Poignantly she reported, how dreadful the absolute bleakness and hopelessness of the camp is, without any privacy or meaningful occupation. To paint and to work at a children’s artist project of an international relief organization has enabled her to overcome her traumatic freeze after years. Many of the other women have not been able to get this far.
She said to me, that the children won’t have any chance of a good life without strong mothers. This conversation has moved me so deeply, that since then I absolutely wanted to strengthen the women as mothers so that their children can have a better future.”
Dr. Ann-Katrin Bockmann works as a psychologist in the field of teaching, research and practice at the University of Hildesheim. As a licensed child-and adolescent therapist she runs the out-patient clinic for children and adolescents together with Prof. Dr. Claudia Mähler and trains psychotherapists for the Society of Behavioural Therapy. Since 2015 she is involved in improving the situation for traumatized refugees in Germany and abroad. Since 2019 she has been accompanying Prof. Tom Holmes on his educational travels to Egypt and Jordan.
Dr. Chady Hanna Rahme
Director of our partner organization Ithraa, Lebanon
“Women – especially mothers – are the key to a better future. They are the central component of peace in families, communities and whole countries. If we relieve mothers from their trauma impact, we can awaken hope for a better world of tomorrow.”
Dr. Chady Rahme is lecturer for psychology and philosophy at the Notre Dame University close to the Lebanese capital city Beirut. Furthermore, he functions as a consultant for more than ten years.
At Ithraa Lebanon he conducts consultations and trainings for professionals and leaders. He also supports people who are looking for individual growth.
Dr. Chady Rahme has been part of many projects considering conflict management, regularly in regions of strong social tensions and violent disputes, like in Syria or the Western Sahara.
He has helped to improve the relationship between refugees and the local population in Lebanon. After the Beirut explosion in August 2020 he began to support traumatized refugees and Lebanese people. Among them are a lot of families who have lost their relatives. Additionally, he supports relief organizations to install selfcare programs for the ones who are helping.
Prof. Dr. Tom Holmes
international working psychologist and advisor of the Leyla Project,
“For many years I offer “Healing the Healer” and training programs in Jordan for professionals in the social-psychological and medical field, e.g. for the International Medical Corps or the Centre for Victims of Torture.
In 2016 I heard a presentation of a female Syrian psychologist, who supported mothers in traumatized families as part of her aid program. It became clear, how much you can help traumatized refugee children by supporting their mothers in their own healing process and role as parents. So I took up the work with the conviction to primarily work with mothers.
The development of such a program became possible through the cooperation with Dr. Ann-Katrin Bockmann in my project. She began, together with women artists from the camp, to develop a project that specialized on mothers and children. The suggested program of the Leyla Project is based on these experiences and pursues the goal to become a successful model for working with mothers of traumatized refugee children, which can be continued after the project is over.”
Prof. Dr. Tom Holmes, PhD,
is Professor emeritus of the Western Michigan University (WMU) of Kalamzoo, USA. For decades he has been training therapist, also in Germany.
Since 2016 he has been offering trainings for burnout-prevention and therapeutic further training for organizations that work with refugees and other disadvantaged populations in Egypt and Jordan. For several years Dr. Ann-Katrin Bockmann is supporting him in his work through her special training for working with traumatized children.
Pastor, Hanover, Germany
“When I first heard of the Leyla Project, I immediately fell for the idea of helping people on-site and on equal terms. War, violence and flight are circumstances that we can’t even imagine.
The more important it is to offer professional help to make one’s contribution in working through and healing trauma. And when this even turns into a collective task with a long-term perspective, we helpers simultaneously become learners. That’s why I am happy to be part of the Leyla Project.”
Benedikt Elsner is a trained merchant, theologist and a convinced fan of Christian children- and adolescent work. He lives in Hanover, Germany.
Theologist & Therapist,
“I have seen them – these little brown children’s eyes. Asking. Sad. Helpless. Frightened. Unprotected. Sealed off. Behind these eyes are the horrible bomb nights in Homs. The noise of the airplanes, machine gun fire aimed at them and their families. Screams. Parents who are not able to give safety anymore. Unlimited loneliness.
These children are traumatized. They carry unimaginable suffering with them, when they arrive at the refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, and have to keep living under undignified circumstances. With the Leyla project we are supporting mothers to assist their children in their emotional distress.
Professionally trained advisors are helping mothers to recognize traumatic stress in their children and show ways to stabilize them. I cannot forget these little brown children’s eyes. That’s why I support and work for the Leyla Project.”
Michael Borkowski is theologist, pedagogue, systemic therapist and family counselor, therapist for psychotraumatology and traumatherapy, couples’ therapist, coach and head of the consulting practice “Aufwind” (Upwind). Since many years he’s the voluntary chairman of the steering committee of the Refugee Housings at the Christian Community “Am Döhrener Turm” Hanover, Germany.
Head of Refugee Housings in Hanover, Germany
“For 30 years I’ve been doing refugee work in Germany and I’m happy about our possibilities of offering these people accommodation, care and support. Part of the big picture of the international refugee situation is the sea rescue’s failure to act and let refugees drown in the mediterranean sea – as well as the disastrous local living conditions of the many, many people who had to flee from the Middle East. War and expulsion have not only taken them their home, but also their ability to have hope and recraft their own life. Children, women and old people are the ones who are affected in particular and they need support.
The Leyla Project helps and relieves them in this difficult situation.”
Irene Wegener has been leading the Refugee Housings of the Christian Community “Am Döhrener Turm” since 1993 in Hanover, Germany. She’s trained as a social pedagogue, social worker and social manager (M.A.). Native from Bremen, the 57 year old is a voluntary member of the supervisory board of the deaconry “Kirchröder Turm” and part of the integration committee of the southern district (Bult) in Hanover, Germany.
Najem Al Khalaf
photo journalist, Hanover, Germany
„As someone who has been affected by war himself, I know how the traumatic experience of war can shape a person. A wounded children’s soul doesn’t heal by itself. That’s why it is so important, that children have someone at their side, whom they can trust and who knows what kind of possibilities and methods there are to regain a sense of safety and lightheartedness in daily life.
With the Leyla Project we are promoting the skills of mothers, to support their own children in this process. This concept has convinced me immediately.“
Najem Al Khalaf had to flee by the age of 17 from his home country Syria to escape from war. Since 2014 he lives in Hanover and is studying photo journalism and documentary photography.
He has published numerous photo projects and short films, that particularly address refugee policy and human rights. Including a photo series about dreams and hopes of refugee children in Germany.
Dr. Frank Hellberg
School Principal retired, Hanover, Germany
“Most of the people who are fleeing from war and terror in the middle east stay in the region and have to be cared for in refugee camps, just like in Lebanon and Jordan. They have to stay there for years, sometimes even decades. The children are the ones who are suffering the most. They had to experience war and death and have to deal with it – without any professional help. With our Leyla Project we can help these children to cope with their trauma in a better way by training their mothers. A manageable financial effort ensures a support that directly reaches the children inside of the camps. That captivates me.”
Dr. Frank Hellberg has been working as a school principal at a comprehensive school around Hanover. He’s been voluntarily involved since many years in the area of “world responsibility” in the Christian Community “Am Döhrener Turm” Hanover. Key topics have been peace work as well as sustainability in the community. He as well is a member of the steering committee of the Refugee Housings that the free church conducts as a sponsor. The Refugee Housing as well as the working group “world responsibility” support initiatives that campaign for rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean sea.
“I have experienced at first hand in my own family, how destructive post-war trauma can be. If professional help remains absent, following generations are likely to be affected by the impact of the trauma.
That’s why I am glad to support children in overcoming these terrible experiences through the Leyla Project. And all of this with a comparatively little effort, because here mothers are enabled to help their children. This easy and efficient concept thrills me.”
Ulrike Landt runs “saatwerk”, an advertising agency near Hanover. She is married and mother of 5 grown up children, with two of them being guest sons from the Middle East. Ulrike Landt is part of the Christian Community “Am Döhrener Turm” Hanover, Germany.