On September 11, 2001, Peter C. Alderman was murdered at the World Trade Center. He was 25 years old. To honor his memory, in 2003 his family established The Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding post-conflict societies by returning survivors of torture, terrorism and mass violence to productive lives.
One billion people, one-sixth of humanity, live in post conflict countries where they have directly experienced torture, terrorism or mass violence. Many survivors develop traumatic depression, often so severe that they are unable to work, care for themselves or tend to their families. In Africa, the incidence of traumatic depression exceeds the incidence of HIV/AIDS and TB combined, yet health care systems in post-conflict low-income countries are fragile, and mental health care is virtually non-existent in these settings. According to the World Health Organization, in low and middle-income countries there is on average one psychiatrist to serve 200,000 or more people, and few mid-level professionals. Between 76% and 85% of people in low and middle income countries with mental disorders receive no treatment.
With proper treatment, 90% of survivors living with traumatic depression or PTSD can be returned to function: to work, to child rearing and to school. They can play a role in rebuilding their communities: restoring peace, protecting their families’ health and participating in economic recovery. It is the mission of the Peter C. Alderman Foundation to heal the emotional wounds of survivors of terrorism and mass violence by training indigenous health workers and establishing trauma treatment systems in post-conflict countries around the globe.
Clinics. PCAF operates eight mental health clinics around the world: in Cambodia, Uganda, Liberia and Kenya. PCAF works in public-private partnership with the government of each partner country, and each clinic is sited on the grounds of government hospitals or in other government clinic space. PCAF trains and employs only indigenous doctors and other mental health professionals, assembles a multi-disciplinary staff and provides ongoing supervision, support, community outreach programs, measurement and evaluation. Government supplies clinic space, in-patient beds, psychotropic drugs and consumables. PCAF’s therapy model includes structured diagnosis and treatment through the patient’s narrative, with individual therapy, group therapy, integrated spiritual treatment and community re-integration.
All patient services are provided free of charge, and PCAF makes no payments to government. PCAF will transfer the operation of each clinic to the government ministry of health at the end of ten years, at which time PCAF staff will be hired by the ministry and mental health activities will be well-integrated into the primary health care system. To date, more than 100,000 victims of terrorism and mass violence affected by traumatic depression have been treated by PCAF-trained personnel or in PCAF clinics.
Training Programs. Since 2003, through annual training seminars in partnership with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT), Partners in Health, Makerere University, Muhimbili University and the African Mental Health Foundation, PCAF has trained or conducted workshops for over 1,000 doctors and mental health workers from 22 countries on five continents. Each of these healers has gone on to train a countless number of healthcare personnel in his or her own country. Several PCAF trainees have risen to the highest level of their nation’s healthcare system.
In July 2012, PCAF convened its Fifth Annual Pan-African Regional Conference Training on Psychotrauma in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: Africa’s only multi-disciplinary conference on psychological trauma in war-affected societies. Funded and organized by PCAF in collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Tanzania, this conference focused on psychotrauma and refugees in Africa. Four hundred and seventy-five mental health professionals from twenty countries attended the conference, which featured plenary speakers Dr. Ricardo Araya of the University of Bristol, Dr. Theresa Betancourt of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. Lucie Cluver of University of Oxford, Dr. David Mohr of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Dr. Hawthorne Smith of the NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture. The Sixth Conference will take place July 15-18 in Kampala, Uganda.
The proceedings of each conference are published in the The African Journal of Traumatic Stress (ISSN-2218-4937), the first peer review journal of its kind, which is underwritten by PCAF and is edited by a team of psychiatric professionals led by PCAF Senior Advisor Dr. Seggane Musisi, and PCAF Africa Program Director, Dr. Eugene Kinyanda.
On November 12, 2011, PCAF held a one-day conference in New York City in partnership with the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and the NYU School of Medicine Master Scholars Program in Medical Humanism, entitled Surviving Trauma: Lessons from Ground Zero and Beyond. The panelists include some of the world’s leading experts on mental trauma, asylum, international human rights, child protection and returning veterans. A second conference, centered on mental health care for marginalized populations, is scheduled to take place on October 26, 2013.
Long-Term Goals. PCAF’s vision is to serve as a catalyst and advocate for putting mental health care on the agenda for post-conflict recovery around the world. It will continue to train and support indigenous doctors and mental health workers to treat victims of mass violence, and will continue to work with post-conflict governments requesting its assistance in establishing trauma treatment systems. After running each clinic for no more than ten years, PCAF will turn clinics over to local government partners or other stakeholders to integrate the clinics into the national healthcare system.
Board. PCAF’s ten-member board of directors brings expertise in international development, business, law, medicine, and non-profit management and fundraising. Every board member contributes financially and assists with fundraising and outreach.
Executive Staff. Day-to-day management, fundraising and operations are run out of New York by Executive Director Alison Pavia, with the support of a small staff. Dr. Eugene Kinyanda, PCAF’s Africa Program Director, and Dr. Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu, Director of Research, are based in Uganda. Co-founders Elizabeth, Stephen and Jane Alderman continue to work on fundraising and outreach, programs and administration, respectively. The majority of PCAF’s staff is overseas.
Other. President Barack Obama recognized Dr. Stephen and Elizabeth Alderman for their work with PCAF by presenting them with the Presidential Citizen’s Medal in October 2011. The Aldermans also received the 2009 Purpose Prize from Civic Ventures. Barron’s Magazine named the Peter C. Alderman Foundation in 2007 as one of the ten most effective small charities in America for its sustained measurable impact on people’s lives. PCAF has been described by one partner as “the catalyst” for bringing mental health to the forefront of the agenda for the developing world. To learn more about PCAF, please go to our website at www.petercaldermanfoundation.org.
On September 11, 2001, Peter C. Alderman was murdered at the World Trade Center. He was 25 years old. To honor his memory, in 2003 his family established The Peter C. Alderman Foundation (PCAF), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to…