Feb 25, 2022
What is ailing our community is often a question asked anytime we gather in communities for a dialogue. This statement is an ice breaker and also allows people to open up without feeling judged. Sometimes people share examples of what is happening to them concealed as “my neighbour experiences this and that”.
Women go through a lot of psychosocial issues. Some are strong enough to speak out while others feel embarrassed to share what they are going through. As Beth Mukami of Women in Leadership and Development (WILD) recently put it in a community dialogue in Muvuti -Machakos County, as a mother, wife, aunt, daughter what do you see when you look at yourself in the mirror. The responses were appalling and included
- A woman growing old
- A woman who is living a life not like the one aspired at marriage
- A woman who is overworked
- A woman who is disrespected
- A woman often blamed by the in-laws
- A woman who is never listened to
Of the 36 participants, one respondent said “I see a woman who is a conqueror”
Asked the burdens they have, in their community, the responses got were:
Defilement, rape, land disputes, disrespect from in-laws, homelessness, burden of school fees, orphaned children discriminated, being beaten up especially when husbands get drunk.
Against this backdrop, Haki Nawiri Afrika in collaboration with Innovation for Change-Africa is providing spaces where women can come together, talk to each other and collectively explore solutions. We need not wait for a person to commit suicide for use to say Rest in Peace and Rest in Power, we can all do our part in bringing back the sunshine in our lives and other people’s lives. Providing a shoulder to lean on, providing an ear to listen can help deter a person from jumping into a river to end their lives, it can help a mother who being abused vents her frustration on her children through beating, it can help a young child being to speak out about the vice.
More forums are needed in rural communities on mental health, because this is where the bulk of the population across Africa lives and this is where most marginalisation is taking place. This is also where rights abuse has been normalised and people do not report cases of abuse either for fear or to protect themselves from victimisation by the community. It is also important to bring perpetrators of psychosocial abuse to the table, to allow them reflections on what they are doing and how it negatively impacts the health of others.
The objective of psychosocial support and resilience building is to create safe spaces for women and youth to share what they are going through and collectively explore solutions. We recognise that the beginning of healing is acknowledging that one has a problem.
This is our story, What’s yours?