DOUST – PSS for refugee women

The Azadi Project will launch a groundbreaking project on International Women’s Day

The Azadi Project will launch a groundbreaking project on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021) — providing psychosocial support to women refugees living in Moria camp on Lesbos Island. 

Pioneering a unique model, the proposed project is the first of its kind to integrate in-person/group, online/individual, and local counseling resources into a seamless process to meet the psychosocial support needs of refugee women. 

The project called “Doust” – meaning a friend in Farsi – has three components. 

  • Group sessions: Twice weekly, women will gather to share their experiences in a safe space and welcoming atmosphere outside the camp. 
  • Online therapy: Those who need individual attention will use video communication to speak privately with counselors located abroad. 
  • Local appointments: in urgent cases, women will be referred to local mental health practitioners. 

“We believe that together, these therapeutic forms will help refugee women deal with mental health illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD produced during dire experiences in home countries, through the migration journey and re-triggered by the inhumane living conditions at Moria”, says Priyali Sur, the Founder and Managing Director of The Azadi project. 

Refugee womens’ trauma is particularly acute due to gender-based violence — including domestic violence, rape by smugglers, trafficking, and sexual assault in prison. With living conditions in the camp characterized as “moral torture” and “a humanitarian catastrophe,” the program builds resilience and confidence. The approach is particularly vital for delivering psychosocial support amid a pandemic that has both intensified the mental health crisis and impeded ordinary forms of service delivery.