“Volunteering with the Crisis Emotional Care Teams is the most rewarding and the most enriching experience I’ve ever had. It’s something I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.”
- Amrantha Kalra
87 deployments across 9 calls for support
Almost 3,000 people served
This year, clinical psychotherapist Amrantha Kalra deployed with Vibrant’s Crisis Emotional Care Team to Virginia to provide crisis emotional health counseling to women and families arriving in the U.S. from Afghanistan.
I have volunteered for two deployments with Vibrant’s Emotional Care Teams in Leesburg, Virginia, where I assisted Afghani families fleeing Taliban control. Since the Taliban resumed power in Kabul, many Afghani families have fled Afghanistan for safety. When they arrive in the U.S. they are held in temporary housing at different locations while government officials arrange their resettlement across different states in the U.S. My role is to be on site for nearly two weeks, providing voluntary emotional health services to those in need. CECT volunteers are social workers, psychologists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, or psychiatrists. We bring our skills to crisis situations, offering the healing tools and resources these families need to begin their path toward recovery and independence.
The families I encountered arrived extremely exhausted and confused. They didn’t know what to expect, and often felt overwhelmed. I introduced myself, explained my role, and how I could help them. Instead of jumping immediately to “How are you feeling?” I’d ask, “Do you feel safe where you’re living?” or “Do you have the food and water that you need?” As clinicians, we are equipped with sophisticated approaches for crisis interventions, but sometimes these simple questions are just what’s needed for people to feel seen and heard.
There is one woman I encountered on this deployment that will always stay with me—a mother of 5, alone for the first time with her children and without her husband or other male family member by her side. Having come from a culture where men are expected to make decisions on behalf of the family, she was suddenly thrust into this leadership role, dealing with U.S. government officials, clinicians, and other authority figures. She was coping with some health issues that turned into a crisis situation due to her level of distress. At one point, as she was crying, I instinctively felt that she needed personal touch, so I asked if it was ok if I held her hand. She nodded yes. The next day, she approached me and explained, “It felt like my sister was with me, which made me feel like I would be ok.” It is often something as simple as human touch or warmth and hope that helps them feel like they will get well. We all have the power to give people that comfort.
Working with Vibrant has offered me the rare opportunity to work with different populations and a range of behavioral health needs. Thanks to the exceptional training offered by Vibrant’s CECTs, I always felt prepared to expect the unexpected, and deliver high-quality emotional care support to those in crisis.