The Uncommon Man

May 20, 2008

MRI in Liberia: Poignant Stories of Change

May 20, 2008: Poignant Stories of Change

We spent the day with 14 staff from the IRC GBV program reviewing the core male involvement concepts and skills, practicing cross-gender dialogue, and preparing for the upcoming training.

Sitting together in the outdoor hut we were filled with appreciation for these women and men who are deeply committed to the work of ending violence against women and girls in Liberia.

The stories we heard about how men are changing in the communities where they work were profoundly inspiring. A woman in one community asked a female IRC staff, "what medicine are you giving my husband that he no longer beats me, and wants to be involved with the men's action group?" Another woman described how a big county-wide meeting did not have enough space to include the women who wanted to attend. But the women had learned to speak up for themselves and complained to the meeting organizers. And the men had learned to listen to women, so they made space for women to sit in the meeting and participate. And, in a dramatic evidence of social change, the women were invited to participate in an upcoming training for community leaders, a role traditionally reserved only for men.

One of the male staff described an experience he had leading a community training (using the format he learned from Men's Resources International). During the men's "fishbowl" activity, where men sit in the center of the circle and describe their own personal experiences with violence, a young man talked painfully about the abusiveness of his father. When an older man in the group began to cry as well, everyone learned that he was the younger man's father. The father made a tearful commitment to ending his violence and changing his life. Several weeks later he invited the IRC staff to his home to witness how he was now talking openly and honestly with his wife.

It is these stories that poignantly demonstrate the impact that the male involvement initiative has been having on the lives of people throughout the country. And we are deeply grateful for the opportunity to hear the how the strategies and skills that we have been teaching are rippling out through the IRC staff to communities throughout the country.

In connection,
Steven Botkin

To read all Liberia entries in chronological order and to see photos from the trip, click here.

Posted by Malcolm Chu at May 20, 2008 11:51 AM


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