Mozhdeh Ghasemiyani is an experienced psychologist with specialist expertise in trauma, refugees and crises. She has worked in both government, local government and NGO’s in Denmark, the UK and the US to improve the treatment of refugees, especially children.
Mozhdeh’s work for refugees has been both on the political level aiming at educating the media and population at large, and on the human level seeking to alleviate the suffering of individual refugees.
Mozhdeh is currently a crisis psychologist for Doctors without Borders and the Danish Institute against Torture. She has written the Red Cross’ handbook, and also managed a project for the NGO Freedom from Torture in London, where she developed best-practices for work with unaccompanied minors who had survived torture.
Mozhdeh was born in Iran and her family came to Denmark in 1995 under the UNHCR’s quota system.
Photo: Martin Thaulow
At our first speaker workshop on June 25th, we interviewed Mozdeh. Check out the two parts of the interview below.
How can others use your idea?
Mitigating the debilitating impact of trauma and thereby facilitating integration of traumatised refugees into society requires a societal effort. Professional psychological help is of course necessary, but there is also a crucial role for each of us as members of society to contribute to solving this humanitarian and societal challenge.
I will give examples of what each and every one of us can do with regard to the most traumatized refugees. And I will show that it is actually quite simple. Thereby I hope to give people the understanding, motivation and tools to make a difference in the life of the next refugee they meet.
Why should people care?
In this era of globalisation and fast change where conflicts far away are brought near, fearfulness is on the rise. People are feeling less safe. Due to conflicts and due to change due to conflicts. This can create a self-reinforcing dynamic. Without safety, the feeling of fear will take over. And a world based on fear creates uncertainty, prejudices, animosity, hatred and isolation.
We will lose our ability to trust, to share, to be curious, to be creative and to heal. We cannot afford not to care. And conversely there is so much to gain if we can promote the feeling of safety. As citizens and societies we will have increased ability to include and thereby heal. Which is fundamental for creating and growing. We will be able to reap the benefits of globalization. Not fear it.
How does your talk connect to the theme “Into the wild”?
For people living safely and comfortably in Denmark “into the wild” is usually perceived as seeking an adventure to get an experience out of the ordinary for the sake of thrill and excitement. For refugees it is the other way around. They are born in the very most wild. In constant danger. And they seek to escape it. But this is difficult.
Even if they escape the immediate physical danger, danger remains with them in the form of traumatic memories that can be triggered at any cue. The mind is still in the wild. This is especially the case for children whose formative years are spent in the wild. And their minds risk remaining in the wild unless they receive the psychological treatment that can bring them out of the wild.
What did you feel, when you found out that you had been chosen to do a TEDx talk?
It may sound like an exaggeration or a cliche: but it was a dream come true for me. Or at least a deeply held wish. The moment I fled out of Iraq as a refugee as a teenager, I promised that I would be the voice of all the refugee children left behind or still suffering. Speaking at TEDx is profoundly meaningful to me because it is an opportunity be their voice and advocate based on my professional experience gained through years of work with this issue.