The Uncommon Man

May 28, 2008

MRI in Liberia: Wednesday IRC Staff Meeting in the Palava Hut

On Wednesday mornings, there is a weekly staff meeting at the IRC office. At 8:30am sharp, the generator is shut down, the power goes off, and everyone leaves the building to gather in the “palava hut” in the yard.

After announcements from all departments, and a security report about an increase in armed robberies, Steven and I were introduced to the IRC staff. We launched into our history with the Male Involvement Program, and our tag team approach was great. Staff responded with interest and enthusiasm to what was presented. The men dropped their defenses as they heard about our approach to positive masculinity, and their faces brightened as they heard about the feedback from the men and women from the different communities.

Dr. Atillo raised his hand to make an observation of an experience he had in his office where his attempt to sweep the floor was met with contrary feelings from the woman, who felt that he should not be helping with the cleaning. We explained that because it is a new experience, it can feel uncomfortable for her and that even women have to get used to the idea of men helping out in this way.

Edwin took Steven and I to the community called "Chocolate Factory" to meet with the Woman's Action Group and the Men's Action Group who will have their official opening day ceremony for their new Women's Center on Friday at 10am. We hope that there will be time for us to join this celebration tomorrow after our staff training and before we leave for the airport.

They were proud of this new community center and are looking ahead to becoming a formal community-based organization. Mr. Ben made an impassioned plea for support to help take the young women off the streets by providing different kind of trainings that will lead to employment and self sufficiency. We explained that this is something we've heard from several community partners, and that we would pass this idea on to IRC.

In Peace,
James Arana

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

Posted by at May 28, 2008 11:57 AM


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