Photo: Linda Givetash, Global Reporting Centre
In November 2014, the New York Times ran a feature on the chaining of mentally ill people in West Africa, where many regard mental illness as a sign of demonic possession. Modern psychiatric care is rarely available. With nowhere to turn, families sometimes entrust their mentally ill family members to ''prayer centers’’ that claim to offer a cure. In these centers, patients are chained to a tree and deprived of food and water for days to get the devil to leave their body. Some men and women remain chained for many years and often until death.
Treatment not Chains is a campaign to to support the work of a visionary African activist, Gregory Ahongbonon, who has altered the landscape of mental health in the Ivory Coast and Benin. In the regions where his organization, the St. Camille Association, works, it is rare to see people still in chains. See the work in action.
This campaign is raising funds to extend his work to Togo, where many mental ill people still live in chains.
Gregory and the St. Camille Association are transforming mental health in West Africa.