Case study: resilience and restoration during the Covid pandemic

Historias que Sanan, a collaborative project in Ecuador, integrates indigenous storytelling traditions with narrative therapy to increase resilience among neighborhood adolescents.

The healing power of stories

Together with Ecuador-based organizations, Quito Eterno and Casa Victoria, we created Historias que Sanan: a program designed to enrich and support both individual and communal resilience during the Covid pandemic. The program was created and launched in 2021, with local adolescents joining in-person (limited according to protocols) and virtually.

Our partnership process began in the exploration and needs assessment phase, collaborating over many months to determine the skills and activities that would most cultivate connection among young people during the pandemic. After numerous interviews and design sessions, we identified a multi-pronged set of priorities to inform the content and direction of the program: increasing practices of personal storytelling, against the backdrop of celebrating indigenous culture and ancestry, increasing overall resilience in families and communities that have been traditionally marginalized and particularly affected by Covid.



An increase in resilience

Program participants who were able to attend all sessions in person, despite local lockdowns, experienced an 11% increase in resilience as measured by a translated, contextualized version of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. While we are thrilled to see these results, we also believe in expanding the definition of resilience beyond its traditional form of “bounce-back” and “adaptability,” to those expressed by our partners in the video.

Resilience is recognizing reality:

“La resiliencia… es la capacidad de entender la realidad de su condición de vida y creo que eso es importante justamente para poder sobreponerse; porque si uno no conoce eso, si no tiene esa capacidad de darse cuenta es muy difícil justamente que un grupo, una persona, una colectividad se empodere y busque otras herramientas o una participación en proceso de cambio.” – Lucia, Quito Eterno

“Resilience … is the ability to understand the reality of your life condition and I think that is important precisely to be able to overcome; because if you do not recognize that, if you don’t  have that ability to realize it, it is very difficult precisely for a group, a person, a community to be empowered and look for other tools or participation in the process of change.”

Resilience is taking action:

“… Sobre todo para mí, la resiliencia es la acción. Las historias en ese sentido no pueden quedarse solo en historias; son historias que tiene que convocarnos a la acción, tiene que llamarnos a la acción, tiene que darnos claves e inspirarnos para accionar; sino, no va a pasar nada, entonces hay esta ese poder resiliente de la historia, le darnos clave.” – Javier, Quito Eterno

“.. Above all for me, resilience is action. Stories in that sense cannot remain only stories; They are stories that have to summon us to action, they have to call us to action, they have to give us clues and inspire us to take action. If not, nothing is going to happen, so there is this resilient power of history, giving us the key.”