Photo by Tony Cece

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wednesday 8/1

I am exhausted with a myriad of emotions as I attempt to describe the immensity of the Trauma Teams' day. There were varying opinions on how many women would show up to the women's' conference today. Guesses ranged from 45 to 123. Nothing but the Lord could have prepared us for the 380 women from the communities and towns surrounding IAA (Into Abba's Arms) who showed up to hear the Trauma Team speak on Communication Skills, Conflict Resolution, Relaxation Techniques, Domestic Violence and Physical and Sexual Abuse. As 150 led to 200 and 200 to 300 it was standing room only and it was clear that they were eager to hear and learn.
So many women necessitated a lot of fluidity on behalf of the Trauma Team and the Lord blessed us with a lovely warm day in which we held group sessions out side. Groups lasted about two hours and consisted of approximately 50-55 women in each group along with some VERY good interpreters. Originally the intention of most group leaders was to process the Communication Skills and Conflict Resolution presentations however, the reality of their lives was made very clear when one woman stated very clearly that she would never use some of the communication skills presented out of fear of being beaten to death. Many groups offered stories of abuse, and in one group when asked by show of hands how many women had been beaten by their husbands; all raised their hands. When asked how many had been beaten to the point of hospitalization; all raised their hands. A middle aged women interjected and explained, "My husband, he beats me, then he tells to me I am a bad wife and mother and beats me more, then he leaves and when he returns, he is nice to me and he tells to me- wife- go get for you food, then when I return he beats me again. Days and days and day I feel smaller and smaller and smaller til I just do not wish to live or I pray to the Lord to take me home or I wish to commit suicide." Out of the most somber heart, the group was asked by show of hands how many of them had felt today or even this week as if they wanted to end their lives. ALL raised their hands! 
The poignancy of the moment was clear. The following hour in most groups was spent discussing ways to try and stay safe, though Kenya does not have Domestic Violence shelters. These women are so isolated and alone. Discussion groups focussed on supporting one another as women and finding safety within each other. Learning to talk openly and honestly with other women and using each other as a support system especially in times of extreme violence. 
After the final presentations on Domestic Violence were given, we were encouraged by their strength as they shared stories of their abuse and they were encouraged to have some strategies to use to help keep them stay as safe as possible from the ravages of domestic violence.  
In ending one women stated to a team member, "You see me. Thank you for letting me know I'm not alone."

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