Taraki x Movember: Reflection 3

Taraki x Movember: Reflection 3
intergenerational trauma & taraki

Recently I was speaking to an elder from my community, someone who I've known since the age of 16. This elder is someone who has seen me develop from being a cliché 'bad boy' teen to the 30 year old man that I am today. We have a deep and rich history together. Our last conversation on the phone was along the following lines:

Elder: 'What do you do for a living now?'

Me: 'I work in mental health in Punjabi communities'

Elder: 'what does that mean?'

Me: 'We try to support people feeling lonely through free spaces innit, people can come for a chat..'

Elder: 'Blud, things sure have changed since our time...'

It was quite interesting having this conversation with the elder, because despite his flaws (like many of us), I deeply value his lived experience and insight in growing up as a South Asian man in Birmingham in the 1980s. Amongst the endless tales of fighting for survival, he represents a generation, that in my view has suffered a lot of trauma. Especially due to social determinants i.e. class, race and geographical location. It is for this reason I felt a sense of pride explaining to him what I do for a living and how we aim to support Punjabi communities, especially through this project. Sadly, however, my pride was misplaced due to the fact that the concept of what I do and our work wasn't culturally translated well enough by myself. Initially, this felt like a disheartening experience, however, upon deeper reflection this conversation made me realise quite a few important things. All of which are essential for our work and their delivery in Punjabi communities.

Cultural Relevancy:

Firstly, we need to ensure that our work is culturally relevant. What this means in a practical sense is that folks from Punjabi communities are immediately able to understand what we do, how we do it and ultimately its benefit. For example, the idea of  a 'safe space',  doesn't hold much value theoretically in Punjabi communities. The reason for this is because historically we have not explicitly called spaces where we can be our authentic selves as 'safe spaces'. A safe space in the context of Punjabi communities can be a chat over some tea with your mates to a conversation down the street with a trusted neighbour. Depending on your interest and age, a safe space can look quite different across the spectrum. With this in mind, it's our job to ensure that this form of relevancy and familiarity is constantly communicated.

Intergenerational Trauma:

Another important realisation I came to after our conversation was the fact that our work needs to be accessible, especially along generational lines. This is especially true in the context of folks like my elder, who are suffering from unresolved trauma. While the lens with which we conduct and deliver our work may differ depending on the demographic, retaining an oppressive lens that actively calls-in key areas like racism, trauma from migration to class injustices is essential.

There is a lot of work that needs to be done and I am hoping our project is a step in the right direction for everyone, inshallah.

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