Complex Trauma Can Impact Anyone – Anywhere

No One Eats Apples in Baja, California

It’s a small town by Canadian Standards. The population is only approximately five thousand people. This makes it the size of Nelson, BC or Flin Flon, Manitoba. What makes this town unique is that one third of this population is under the age of 14. The town is Primo Tapia, located along the Baja California, an hour South of Tijuana, Mexico. What makes this town even more exceptional is that the number of economic orphans is shocking. Many of the homes are single parent families. Most are led by mothers who either by choice or necessity moved to Primo Tapia without their husbands to find a better life for their children. The problem however, is that when the mother leaves in the morning to work, children are left largely to themselves or with neighbors in the impoverished communities that they live. Drugs and crime in the town are a problem. Child social welfare programs are minimal. Many children are left as economic orphans during the day until their mothers return from work.

Addressing the vulnerability of children and families along the Baja are many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). One such NGO is Casa de Luz Children and Youth Center (CDL). The organization provides food, education and social programming for the children it serves.

Most of these children have experienced hunger, neglect, violence and other forms of trauma. In February 2019, Dr. Kirk Austin of Complex Trauma Resources (CTR) provided training for NGO’s from within the Baja. The nature of trauma, the Complex Care and Intervention (CCI) therapeutic model, and specific interventions were presented through the help of a Spanish speaking interpreter.

He was accompanied by a team of educators from British Columbia. “No One Eats Apples In Baja California” (CCI therapeutic model) was enthusiastically embraced by all of the learning community. The questions that followed were specific in nature and applied to the individual children that the NGO staff had concerns about.

What was important to note during the training is that the CCI model fit effortlessly within the NGO regardless of cultural and language differences. Adult caregivers all recognized the signs and symptoms of trauma among their children. The value to these adults was that they were also able to discuss how to intervene and help their children. In particular, strategies related to lowering stress and arousal through safe and healthy attachment were readily understood and accepted. Moreover, strategies related to building the identity development of each child were enthusiastically embraced. Recognizing, acknowledging, and celebrating the individual characteristics of each child formed a foundation for staff toward innovative strategies that would fit each child. Moving forward, CTR plans to support CDL through ongoing consultation and personnel support.

About the author

Dr. Kirk Austin, Ph.D., RCC, CCI Coach

Dr. Kirk Austin is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and member of our CTR Clinical team. To learn more about him click here.

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