Text: Andrea Davidge; interview conducted in 2017
Artist, Teacher and former Intern at RIVO
If you ask an ordinary bee what's the meaning of life, what's the point of life? The bee will say: it is to make honey of course. That's a legitimate answer. All of us have our honey-making thing we do: money, garden... For the individual bee it might mean making honey, but in the bigger scheme of things, the meaning of life for bees is the cross pollination that they allow for, without which the planet would just kind of wither and all the plants would perish and die and that would be the end of it.
These are some of the words that John Docherty, RIVO's Co-Founder and Coordinator had to say while I interviewed him on his work at RIVO, which will be celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
RIVO provides therapy to people who have experienced organized violence both abroad and in Canada. Although its main focus is on providing therapy, it is also a network of therapists, massage therapists, doctors and social workers.
Because of its network structure, RIVO has been able to adapt to many changes over the past 25 years. A network translates into low operating costs compared to that of a center, which means that RIVO can bounce back from shifts in funding. Therapists are also able to take on more or less cases depending on their needs, and deliver quality therapy sessions to many people for free.
The population we are working with often have been through some horrible things. (...). The backdrop to the work is very painful stuff. (...) It can be very draining for the therapist/counselor. But the people are themselves very resilient. Like most human beings. There is a richness to that contact that can be very life-giving (...).
After interviewing John, and the past months I have been volunteering and working at RIVO, it is clear to me that RIVO is not just a sum of people, it is a sum of interactions. Like the bees' cross-pollination, the work and interactions of everyone at RIVO often reverberate much further than any one person can realize.
[It is] very inspiring to be part of a group of people who are there for the right reasons. (...) Over the last 25 years it's always something I am very proud to be a part of.
Andrea created and ran a childcare service at RIVO so that parents in psychological distress could attend therapy while their child is engaged in an art activity. She has a background in visual arts, education and child development. In addition to the childcare service, she completed an internship at RIVO with the communication team. Andrea aspires to continue working with organizations, like RIVO, that aim at helping vulnerable refugees.