Our work began in a tent on the border of Greece and North Macedonia and is now growing globally. We deliver services that mitigate the impact of trauma and toxic stress. We focus on areas where we can make the most difference. Our play-based early childhood programme, Baytna supports whole family healing and our youth programme Dinami offers a safe space for young people. We also offer therapeutic support to men and women.
Now to scale our work, we’re partnering with community organisations around the world to offer trauma and identity informed psychosocial care to people affected by conflict and forced displacement. We invest in and train local organisations and connect them to a healing network that can support their practice
Our mission is to build community capacity for healing.
Our vision is refugees determining their futures, unbounded by the impacts of conflict and displacement.
Amna began as Refugee Trauma Initiative (RTI).
In 2016 some 13,000 refugees were
stranded on the border of Greece and North Macedonia. It’s here that our work began. We set up a tent and started providing therapeutic group sessions for men, women and children who experienced violence, displacement and torture.
As refugees continued to arrive, we grew to meet the need of displaced communities in Greece. We worked in camps, community centres and provided individual support when it was necessary.
We worked with refugees and psychosocial experts to develop our current programming – light touch nonclinical community-based interventions that help make people who have experienced violence and forced displacement feel safe again.
The methodology of our programmes is evidence based and simple. We create safe and playful spaces where people can convene and heal as a community. Our aims is to provide care as early as possible to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma that can affect individual and communities for a long time.
After 6 years, we are providing this care through our healing network to refugees in nine countries across Europe and in Pakistan.
Chair of The Board
Chair of The Board
Daniel is a barrister with a broad practice encompassing crime, road traffic and regulatory work. He is predominantly based in the Crown Courts, where he both prosecutes and defends.
Before coming to the Bar, Daniel worked for NGOs in the UK, Rwanda and Jamaica. His work encompassed genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity and human rights in which he retains a strong interest. Daniel spent seven months working for the Council for Human Rights based in Kingston, Jamaica, and has advised defendants on Death Row as to their prospects of appeal to the Privy Council. He is experienced in representing defendants with mental health issues, addiction problems and vulnerabilities.
Lisa is a senior philanthropic executive with a twenty-year career focused on impact and systemic change. She serves as Managing Director of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, where she helps emerging organizations develop capacity and achieve impact, while also steering the Foundations overall strategy, thought-leadership, and outreach. Lisa is a senior philanthropic executive with a twenty-year career focused on impact and systemic change. She has worked with numerous foundations and family offices on program and portfolio development.
Abdulkarim is a medical doctor and an epidemiologist from Syria. In 2013, Abdulkarim was training to be a neurosurgeon when his residency was interrupted by the war. He then worked in field hospitals in Aleppo and Idlib before joining Save The Children, where he led the health response in North West Syria until 2017. He is currently pursuing a PhD in health systems in war settings at King’s College London, in addition to his work as a research associate with the Conflict and Health Research Group at the same university. He is also an Associate fellow at Chatham House and serves on the board of two other organisations, Shafak, and Eyes to the Future.
Amna’s core team is made of psychosocial care specialists, early childhood experts and humanitarians. Lived experience is represented in all aspects of our organisation – from our board to our facilitators.
Founder and CEO
Head of Operations
Head of Programmes
Founder and CEO
Zarlasht founded Amna in 2016 after returning from the Syrian border, where she had advised INGOs on education and child wellbeing, to help refugees dealing with the emotional fallout of violence and displacement. She has worked for several aid organisations, including Save the Children. In the UK she has worked for the Young Foundation, the Studio Schools Trust and the Skills Lab – an education consultancy where she was a founding director. In 2018, Zarlasht was selected as a Fellow of the inaugural class of Obama Fellows, a group of 20 global leaders in civic innovation. Zarlasht and her family were forcibly displaced from Kabul when she was eleven years old. She arrived in the UK at age fifteen and was granted asylum.
“When I speak to people about our work I try to help them to understand the experience of displacement. It isn’t just physical displacement from home – it’s also an emotional fracture: you are separated from your family, your friends, and your language. That alone is difficult enough – most of the people have also lost a loved one and seen unimaginable violence. Starting over is only possible if they are supported through the transition.”
Head of Operations
As Head of Operations and co-founder of Amna Greece, Natalia is Amna’s chief representative for all dealings with Greek agencies, including local government and non-governmental organisations. She has several years of experience in the field, both at large international NGOs and local grassroots organisations, and is Amna’s leading advocate for developing sustainable programmes within Greece. Natalia also leads Amna’s capacity building arm, which provides consultancy and training to organisations to assist them in implementing practices of service delivery and staff care that are both trauma-informed and identity-informed. She speaks French, Greek and English.
“It is so important now to keep focused on the ongoing humanitarian situation here in Northern Greece. The challenges the refugees still face are enormous and complex. We’ve been focusing on the challenge of integration, and for that we need help from two sides: we need practitioners who can communicate with the refugees in their own language; and we need local people who understand the Greek social services system and who can advocate on behalf of the refugees here in Greece.”
Head of Programmes
Gabriella is Amna’s Head of Programmes and a transpersonal counsellor and psychotherapist.
Gabriella oversees Amna’s international training and capacity-strengthening programmes and is part of Amna’s training team, training non-specialists in therapeutically informed healing practices. Her specialism is in taking therapy out of the therapy room to develop and advocate for more holistic, anti-oppressive healing approaches and systems of care for marginalised communities.
Before working with Amna, Gabriella worked across family law, criminal justice, mental health and drug treatment services piloting and scaling more humane, trauma-informed, systemic models of care.
Gabriella was drawn to work with communities experiencing toxic stress and trauma due to her own families refugee history and the impact of intergenerational trauma.
Outside, and inside of work Gabriella loves to dance!
Our associate therapists work on a rotating basis to provide therapeutic assistance to the communities that we serve.