Animal Therapy – Helping Women in the Congo
HHS has been working for a few years to help empower women and their families by using guinea pigs to help them work through their trauma and provide an eventual income. This program started in 2012. HHS started with 60 guinea pigs that were given to 30 women, (2) each, in May 2019. They continued to produce despite COVID-19 and we now have 120 women helped today by animal therapy. The last rotation of guinea pigs was this past August 3, 2020 after the confinement in DRC.
Studies have proven that animals help individuals battling mental health symptoms. One study examining the impact of a 15-minute session between a university student and therapy dog found that even in instances of just a few sessions, interactions with a therapy dog can cause statistically significant reductions in perceived stress and blood pressure in students (https://habri.org/research/mental-health/conditions/ )
Some of the benefits of animal therapy found from this study after six weeks reported by students were reduced anxiety and increase in confidence and problem-solving skills. (https://habri.org/research/mental-health/conditions/ ). A Reduction in severity of symptoms may also be linked to the centering ability of animals to act as a positive external focus of attention. (https://habri.org/research/mental-health/conditions/ )
These studies prove how animals can help people manage their mental health symptoms. We at HHS have seen this work first hand, with the use of one guinea pig helping a woman relieve the symptoms of depression. This allows her to re-engage in her daily life and care for her children. It has also been a source of a small income. Our staff in the Congo have seen dramatic improvements in the mental health of the women that receive a guinea pig.
This is a story of one of our beneficiaries which name is not disclosed due to her privacy. Let’s call her Mimi. Mimi had no income and received 2 guinea pigs last year. They produced and after 6 months she gave 2 guinea pigs each to 3 other women. She also sold 10 guinea pigs during the pandemic and generated $40 and was able to feed her children when she otherwise had no income to support herself. Mimi was able to buy a school uniform for her daughter to be able to return to school. She recently told one of our staff in Democratic Republic of Congo: “Without the guinea pigs, my mental health could not be stable and my daughter would not be able to return to school”.
HHS staff works hard every day to help create opportunities for more women with a story similar to Mimi’s to be able to make a better life for themselves and their children. We are in need of 1200 more guinea pigs to help more women live richer and fuller lives after surviving such horrific traumas. One healthy guinea pig is now just $4.00 (US dollars). If you would like to donate to help us reach our goal of $4,800 (US dollars). Please send check to P.O Box 23325 Lexington, KY 40523, donate online www.hhsurvivors.org or use our safe PayPal account at [email protected]