Page last updated at 08:25 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 09:25 UK

In pictures: Congo mental health centre

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Two decades of conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have driven many over the edge. The Centre Sosame is one of the few mental health clinics in the region.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

The clinic can accommodate 100 in-patients and it is normally full. Patients are encouraged to socialise with each other, play games, cook and make crafts, as a way to overcome their trauma.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Distraught Anne Mwasheke, 46, from North Kivu, arrived at the centre in Bukavu last month. She revealed: I watched two of my brothers and five of our farm workers being shot by rebel soldiers.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Patients are encouraged to express their anxieties through drawing. This woman was gang-raped by rebel soldiers and was unable to talk or communicate for a week after the incident.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Clinic workers travel out into communities, find the worst cases and bring them to the centre, which the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (Echo) helps fund.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

It is not yet known what is wrong with this new arrival who mutters incessantly and rocks backwards and forwards. Some patients at the clinic are considered incurable and live there permanently.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

But the majority are discharged after about 40 days. The most common reason for mental trauma at Centre Sosame is witnessing violence. Rape, being taken hostage or torture are other causes.

Centre Sosame in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

More and more children are being admitted but most recover. This young boy who saw his mother raped is due to go home soon. (Words and pictures: Daniel Dickinson, Echo)



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