Capacitar – Spanish for “to empower, to encourage, to bring to life” – is the life work of Pat Cane, growing out of her own discipline of ancient wellness practices such as Tai Chi and acupressure for self-care. Today, the organization she founded works around the globe, bringing relief and helping people heal their own lives and transform their families and communities through application of these techniques in conflict-stricken areas.

Guatemalan Mayan health promoters

In 1988, the Contra War was raging in Managua, Nicaragua. People were desperate to learn what they could do for themselves and their families to manage their stress and trauma. Capacitar responded and has been committed to accompanying people traumatized by war and violence ever since.  Outreach grew to include groups in Guatemala, East Timor, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of  Congo, South Sudan, the Philippines, Haiti and elsewhere.

Today, as the war in Ukraine looms over the world and millions of Ukrainians seek refuge in other countries, Capacitar partners are accompanying those traumatized by loss of country, life, home, livelihood and family.  Capacitar teams with organizations in need of trauma healing tools to support their outreach to the refugees.

Afghanistan peace volunteers.

At the same time, Capacitar continues to offer Zoom support classes every two weeks to teachers and students living in Kabul, Afghanistan. Mohammad, a teacher in Kabul who organizes the classes, reports that the Capacitar practices have helped him, his students and other teachers at his school manage their own fear and anxiety as they live under Taliban rule, citing incidents in their own lives of being robbed and threatened. Team members often say, “As war, crises and global traumas continue, Capacitar will not run out of work anytime soon!”

Pat Cane, an Associate of the Presentation Sisters, continues to be actively involved in the organization. In an October email she asked for prayers for her work in the coming months: “Tomorrow I go to El Paso and Ciudad Juaréz and will offer trainings on both sides of the border. In November I travel to Ireland and Scotland for trainings. This will include work at the Irish peace center Glencree that is now also caring for a large number of Ukrainian refugees. And then to Mexicali in December for work with refugees and staff at a new [Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph] center. I’ll also be offering a 3-day Advent retreat for the [Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary].  In February, I’ll return to Presentation Learning Center in Watts. I continue to collaborate with many congregations in body-based spirituality and trauma healing. So there is a lot to pray for these days!”

Learn more about the remarkable work of Capacitar on their website, which has many photos, newsletters, and program information.

Photos courtesy of Pat Cane