Lydia Wanja Gitau
University of Sydney, PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies, Trauma intervention for survivors of mass violence
The thirteenth recipient of the Senesh Graduate Fellowship for 2014-2015 is Lydia Wanja Gitau from Kerugoya, Kenya, now of Sydney, Australia. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Sydney studying peace and conflict and specializing in trauma intervention for survivors of mass violence. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education from Kenyatta University, Kenya, 1987-1990, a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling from NIST in Nairobi, Kenya, 1993-1995, a Diploma in Counseling Psychology from TEC Institute in Nairobi, Kenya, 2005-2006, and a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from USIU in Nairobi, Kenya, 2008-2010. Her employment history includes counseling students at Jomo Kenyatta University, especially in trauma-related issues, and lecturing at universities such as Kenya Methodist University, Pan Africa Christian College, and currently at the University of Sydney. Along with her employment history, Lydia has also served as a volunteer counselor at Ripples International, Meru, offering voluntary HIV testing and support for survivors of HIV/AIDS .
Lydia’s doctoral research topic is “Trauma Interventions and Peacebuilding: A Case Study of South Sudanese Refugees in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.” In this she is examining the link between trauma healing and peacebuilding. More broadly, she is interested in examining the post-conflict interventions that have potential to support long-lasting peace in the East Africa Region.
Upon completion of her doctoral degree, Lydia plans to be a practitioner in the area of peacebuilding in terms of offering psychosocial support for survivors of conflict, and teaching and training in peace and conflict issues. She plans to extend her counseling skills to the context of trauma healing and recovery after mass violence. She also plans to be involved in ongoing research to expand knowledge and help develop interventions that are conflict-sensitive, trauma-related and culturally-relevant to the conflict situations in the East Africa region. She is particularly interested in exploring the subject of forgiveness and reconciliation after mass violence, and its practical application in specific conflict situations.