The Uncommon Man

June 15, 2006

Zambia Trip - Entry 8

Training Day One

This day has been an amazing experience. The room was filled with over 20 people, mostly young men. (In Zambia they refer to “youth” as people ages 18 to 35.) They were eager and very intelligent. We opened the day using a large bamboo pole cut from the YWCA executive director’s farm as a talking stick for each person to introduce themselves with their name, where they are from and expectations for the day. We explained that we would be joining together for a ritual of healing as well as a training. The power of the day continued to build, as the women shared their experiences to a circle of men who were supportive and caring. The men then began to share their experiences of violence, abuse and abandonment. We practiced saying to each other “I hear you. I understand you. I am with you.”

We were very impressed with how well informed these men are about violence against women, and how deep their commitment is. Everyone left the day filled with a greater recognition of their potential for supporting each other and healing violence.

We’re off to a great start. We have been able to hire a videographer for the training, and know that we have documented many powerful moments to share with others.

Now we are eager to head back to our temporary home, collapse, and watch some soccer.

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Training Day Two

Dear friends and colleagues,

We have spent another remarkable day with the Zambia Men’s Network and the leadership of the Zambia YWCA. This training is clearly making a tremendous difference, and the appreciation being expressed from everyone is heartfelt and enthusiastic.

The day began with remarks from the President of the YWCA board of directors, a representative of the Zambia Men’s Network, our colleague from Nigeria, and Steven. The President was clearly moved by our opening activities and hearing from participants about the impacts of our first day. The YWCA executive director has been very pleased by our approach and the learning and inspiration that is obviously happening for the members of the ZMN.

As we began working on developing action plans, the creativity and talents of the ZMN members continued to shine. They have developed plans for a Zambian men’s pledge against violence, community outreach, educational performances, outreach to men in prison, and a national membership campaign.

We ended the day with a ritual (of course) of “planting” the bamboo pole into a large flower pot with each person placing a stone into the base while saying what they are giving to the growth of the men’s network. (Those of you who attended our open house in Springfield will recognize the format.)

What is happening here in Zambia is truly pioneering work, and a model for the rest of the world. We have expressed the support of people from the United States for their efforts, and we feel your support for us.

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Posted by Russell at June 15, 2006 09:25 AM

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