AIM Care – Vision & Strategy
Each section of AIM is required to set out its vision, and its strategy for implementing that vision. This paper, dated May 2019, sets outs the vision for AIM Care, which is the section of AIM which runs the Tumaini Counselling Centre.
Tumaini – the Swahili word for Hope
Tumaini Counselling Centre has offered professional counselling and mental health services to missionaries since 1991. Initially operating from rented accommodation in Nairobi, AIM Care moved to purpose-built premises in Karen, Nairobi, in 2002, and in 2016 AIM Care opened a second centre in Kampala, Uganda.
‘AIM Care’ is the name of the missionary mental health care section of Africa Based Support (ABS). Tumaini Counselling Centre is a facility owned and run by AIM ABS.
Throughout these years, AIM Care, supported by Wycliffe Bible Translators International (WBTI) and professionals from other like-minded organisations, have worked cooperatively to provide specialist and professional counselling and support services at Tumaini, initially for AIM, SIL and SIM missionaries, but also for missionaries from 160+ like-minded mission agencies.
The current situation
AIM Care exists to increase the fruitfulness of disciple-makers through enhanced missionary resilience by offering restorative and preventative mental health and pastoral care services.
AIM Care currently sees 350 – 400 missionaries per year. Most of this work is conducted at the Tumaini centres in Nairobi and Kampala, but AIM Care clinicians also travel to many AIM conferences each year to both offer counselling to individuals and training in member-care-related issues.
Our vision is to assist and equip missionaries to fulfil their ministries in Africa. We accomplish this by supporting missionaries on the mission field when they need this, rather than their needing to return to their home countries, and so interrupting or perhaps ending their mission work.
In order to fulfil our mission statement, the following services are provided (not all services are provided at each centre):
- Counselling: individual, couples, child and adolescent, family, premarital, or group
- Crisis Debriefings and Post-Trauma Support
- Mid- & End- of- Term Debriefings
- Psychological/Psychiatric Evaluation and Testing
- Psychiatric Medication Management
- Providing resources to AIM leadership
- Mentoring, Coaching
- Consultation with Mission Administrators
- Missionary Kid School Support
- Conflict Resolution
- Interpersonal Skills Workshops
- Marriage & Single Missionary Retreats
- Conference and Devotional Speaking
- Some Distance Services via VOIP, email, video conference
- Web site with resource articles and links (https://tumainicounselling.net)
- Loaning Library
- Quiet gardens for individual, family, or group use; picnic and recreational use available by prior arrangement
We know of very few other Christian counsellors or psychiatrists on the continent who have both a professional level of training and a good understanding of the issues affecting cross-cultural missionaries and their families. Tumaini has gained a world-wide reputation for excellence in member care.
Nairobi is a good central base for AIM Care and it has built a strong reputation within AIM and other like-minded missions. The Tumaini centre in Kampala provides easier access to missionaries working in AIM Central Region. However, we seek to be more readily accessible to AIM and other missionaries serving in other parts of Africa, and are committed to exploring further ways of accomplishing this.
AIM Care has operated successfully since 1991 with the majority of its work being conducted in Nairobi, and in recent years in Kampala too. Although many missionaries do live and work within visiting distance of Nairobi or Kampala, we need to make AIM Care more accessible to those working in other parts of Africa.
As AIM refocuses its vision, AIM Care must adapt to support the mission’s members wherever they are. The AIM Framework recognises the importance of ‘serving and supporting those engaged in (the front-line work)’. The work of AIM Care comes within this aspect of the Framework, and in fulfilling our mission we are supporting those who are reaching the unreached or equipping others to do the same.
By demonstrating the love of Christ through mental health and spiritual care, we envision missionaries pursuing their calling with resilience.
AIM Care’s vision statement is:
- To honour God and support one another in providing the best possible care to all our clients.
Recognising that AIM members are increasingly working in remote areas and in CAN situations, we envision a number of ways of being able to support people at a distance from Nairobi.
To move forward in the ways described below relies on God providing the personnel, finance and the wisdom to know how to best support AIM members and other missionaries at a distance.
1. Geographical location
We plan to retain the main centre for AIM Care at Tumaini, Nairobi. Furthermore, the establishment of the Tumaini Centre in Kampala has shown that there is a significant need from missionaries working in Central Africa.
However, the availability of clinical staff to be based in the Kampala centre beyond August 2019 is not clear. We do believe that God is calling us to continue to work in that area, so we will continue to seek suitable clinical staff to work there, and will review the situation again in the latter half of 2019.
Over the last few years, discussions between ABS and AIM North Region (NR) have led to a shared hope for the provision of local counselling support for members working in NR. These discussions will be taken forward to see if a feasible and secure way forward can be found.
There are no current plans for AIM Care to set up any new physical centres in AIM Eastern Region and Southern Region, but AIM Care is alert to the need to be as accessible as possible to all AIM members, and does offer distance support where technology will allow and therapeutic considerations makes feasible.
2. Philosophy of Ministry – e.g. lifestyle issues, contextualisation
AIM Care operates under these Core Values
- We are Christ-centred
- We are support-service focused
- We are team-oriented
Therapists working for AIM Care integrate their Christian faith and practice in their clinical work. They abide by Biblical ethics, and adhere to the ethical standards of their professional bodies.
Missionary mental health care is best done in a team. Throughout the week the team meets informally and formally for case distribution, discussion, mutual support, for sharing administrative tasks, and for devotions and prayer.
Professionals at Tumaini emphasize
- Helping each other practice good self-care
- Balancing work load, and
- Taking time for professional and spiritual development.
3. Timeframes for action, including starting and review dates
The staffing and future feasibility of maintaining a centre in Kampala will be reviewed in the latter half of 2019.
Further support for members in NR will be discussed with the NR Office as opportunity arises.
4. Exit strategy
This is not a temporary strategy. AIM Care needs to follow wherever AIM is operating in order to maximise the fruitfulness of those working in the front line of AIM’s mission.
5. Language learning
Counselling is primarily conducted in English, though our multi-cultural professional team is able to offer counselling in a number of other languages (currently German, Korean, Mandarin). However, we also acknowledge that AIM expects its members to meet Level 2 in the main language of the host culture where they work, and respect the value of this.
6. Major thrusts of how the vision will be implemented
In addition to maintaining the on-going work of AIM Care at Tumaini in Nairobi and Kampala, we undertake the following areas of work:
- Attending as many AIM Regional and Unit conferences as is feasible with our given clinical staff and finances. This is both to offer talks on member care and to offer counselling to those who request it. This raises the profile of member care generally, offers preventative strategies, and responds to current needs for counselling.
- Developing our distance support, through the use of VOIP or Skype, where internet connections are adequate to allow this. This enables members who are at a distance from Nairobi or Kampala to consult a counsellor or psychiatrist (subject to their internet bandwidth)
- Running residential intensive counselling retreats and marriage retreats each year, or as demand and staffing allow
- We will continue to work to raise the profile of member care amongst the Korean mission community
- Lastly, we will build professional relationships with other member care organisations in Africa, Southern Europe and the Middle East, which may be more accessible than Nairobi for some AIM members, when face-to-face support is needed. Similarly we will further our professional relationships with member care organisations in Sending Regions, to be able to make appropriate referrals to AIM missionaries when in their home countries.
7. Specific types of personnel required
All staff, whether clinicians or support, are expected to be mature Christians, active in their churches, modelling unity in diversity.
Because of the complex nature of our counselling ministry AIM Care has its own application process for professional staff alongside the AIM application process. The therapists at Tumaini are licensed mental health professionals with cross-cultural experience serving as missionaries.
Short-termers may be accepted, though usually for not less than 1 year.
All those who join AIM (as members or through secondment) and serve at AIM Care need to be willing to abide by AIM Policies and Procedures (as outlined in the AIM Member Handbook) and the policies and procedures of AIM Care.
8. Orientation of personnel appropriate for the individual ministries envisaged
After Africa Based Orientation, clinicians working for AIM Care need orientation into the Centre’s work. A mentor is assigned to each new member of staff, arranged by the Clinical Team Leader. It is also highly recommended for every therapist to have an outside clinical supervisor.
In addition, we operate AIM’s policy of having Annual Reviews of each member’s progress.
9. Key alliances or partnerships
AIM Care currently has established MOUs with:
- AIM CR to collaborate in the oversight and running of Tumaini Kampala
- DMG, over providing a professional clinician in Tumaini, Nairobi
- GMMT, over providing a professional clinician in Kampala
- MTW,over providing a professional clinician in Tumaini, Nairobi
Tumaini Nairobi provides regular services to Rift Valley Academy, and limited support to Rosslyn Academy, and West Nairobi School, with funding arrangements in place for the first of these.
AIM Care has informal but close working relationships with a number of other missionary member care organisations globally, e.g. LinkCare and Alongside in the US, and other member care centres in Africa and Southern Europe.
Additionally, clinicians at Tumaini are part of a network of mental health professionals in Nairobi and Kampala, and have good relations with other relevant NGOs and national counselling centres.
10. Defined and measurable desired end points objectives
We keep records of the numbers of missionaries seen, their attendance and their organisations. We will keep the same information for AIM Care Kampala to monitor the use of that centre once it is open.
We also keep records of the conferences attended and the numbers of people seen during these.
During the pilot phase of the online groups, we are keeping records of the numbers participating and will discuss these with NR (who are funding this initiative) at the end of the pilot phase (end of 2015).
11. Resources to be marshalled for this vision, including personnel needs with the team leader being identified if a team is being proposed
AIM Care is staffed by missionary-clinicians who donate their time and skills. We aim to balance our budget, with running expenses being met by:
- Charging fees for services, which meets the majority of the operating expenses; we offer reduced rates for AIM members and those from other organisations that provide clinical staff at Tumaini.
- Hiring out our seminar facilities to like-minded organisations
- Additional funding comes from contributions from AIM International Office, and
- Donations into the AIM Care Project Fund
The current Clinical Team Leader for AIM Care is Mark Phippen. Gunilla Harlin is identified as the Team Leader for AIM Care Nairobi, and Judith Finkbeiner is identified as the Team Leader for AIM Care Kampala.
Mark Phippen wishes to be released from his role as Clinical Team Leader by the end of 2019, so consideration of who might take on that role should happen during 2019.
12. Security and identity issues
AIM Care operates in places where those attending in person can do so confidentially and it respects their privacy. We pay meticulous attention to the protection of clients’ personal information. Where we communicate with missionaries operating in CAN situations, we do so via secure email. Tumaini Nairobi is situated in a well-guarded compound; the Kampala centre is housed in a rented apartment in a guarded compound alongside other units.
AIM Care members hold missionary visas, appropriate work permits, and are known to both AIM members and national official bodies.
13. Anticipated problems and their answers
We anticipate the following challenges in developing our services in the manner described:
- Personnel: we need sufficient qualified personnel with suitable experience. We are currently short of clinical staff on both the Nairobi and Kampala Centres, and critically so in Kampala beyond August 2019
- We have submitted Requisitions through the AIM HR system, and are alerting relevant contacts to the opportunities
- Leadership: the current Clinical Team Leader wishes to leave this role by the end of of 2019
- The Team Leaders in both Tumaini Nairobi and Kampala, as well as ABS leadership are aware of this, and discussions will take place within ABS and AIM Care.
- Fluctuation in personnel, due to home assignments, short-term missionaries
- We are both aiming to recruit sufficient personnel to allow for such absences, and to schedule home assignments in a phased manner
- Finances for travel to conferences or to offer counselling in locations away from Nairobi / Kampala
- The Project money from AIM IO is helping us in this respect
- Accommodation for long- and short-term clinicians at Tumaini
- A Project has recently built 4 x 2-bedroom apartments on the Tumaini Nairobi compound for clinicians and other ABS personnel; this has helped considerably with accommodation needs
- Internet bandwidth limitations to enable distance sessions by video-conferencing.
- We have upgraded our internet bandwidth, but the reliability of the service still leaves something to be desired.
- Lack of awareness or exposure to what we are able to provide
- Senior level meetings between ABS and AIM Receiving Regions is proving helpful in this respect.
14. Date of this Vision & Strategy Paper (VSP)
The last AIM Care VSP was dated 14 September 2015, and this revision is dated 10 May 2019