The Caravan of Joy and Tears: PHOLA documentary showcases the power of art and community in healing from trauma

Travelling by caravan from Zimbabwe to South Africa sounds like a fun trip. But the real magic happens when someone jumps into that same caravan in tears of sadness and comes out in tears of joy.

PHOLA is a pioneering community-based organisation in South Africa are doing cutting-edge work in mental health in the outskirts of Johannesburg using the most extraordinary artistic approaches to help women, families, and entire communities overcome the effects of gender-based violence, AIDS and conflict. Founded by Zimbabwean psychologist, Ncazelo Ncube, PHOLA's work is grounded in the recognition that people affected by adversity, abuse and trauma possess knowledge and skills about overcoming their problems.

PHOLA partners with children, women and girls, men, families and communities to design therapeutic counselling tools that honour their experiences, skills and knowledge in overcoming hardships. Oh, and they use their caravan to implement those tools with people in communities.

We first partnered with PHOLA in 2018 through our initiative, Ember Mental Health, to help demonstrate their impact, become more sustainable operationally, gain greater visibility and scale up their work.

Now, a new short documentary film by Polo Stories showcases the power of their work. Give it a watch - and make sure to have a tissue to hand.

Learn more about PHOLA:

Read this paper exploring the impact of their COURRAGE-plus intervention. Spoiler alert: the evaluation found it to be highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression.

Become certified to practice Ncazelo's methodologies, such as COURRAGE and Tree of Life, in your context by signing up to receive training.

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