Photo by Tony Cece

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Women’s Conference

Wednesday 07-31-2013

We started our morning praying, singing praises and reading Romans 8: 28-39, preparing our hearts for the women’s conference. The staff of IAA were making preparations for the day as well. They taught a few of us how to make the fried dough (“mandazi”) they made for tea time.
The women’s conference was to start at 9am, but according to Kenyan time it was much later. Many of the children had to take their children to school and then walk to the conference. We started at 9:45 with 8 women and gradually grew to 74 women total. Some of the women brought their children, mostly babies wrapped on their backs with blankets.

The babies were a bit shocked to see white people and the mothers thought it was really funny, so they would bring their babies close to us and the babies would start screaming and the mothers would laugh hysterically.

Dr. Keyes and Dr. Harris-Keyes led the first session about domestic violence and control. The next presentation was led by two of our team members, teaching on parenting, specifically using logical consequences instead of punishment. After a tea break, we led groups with the women about the topics they just heard. Each group was very different. Some of the groups were very quiet while others shared about marital rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), the Rift Valley Massacres of 2008, verbal, and physical spousal abuse. Each group had about 12 women and some of the those groups did not have a single woman who was not personally affected by spousal abuse. They do not have many opportunities to talk about their experiences and emotions related to spousal abuse.  One of the groups focused on how they often just keep their emotions inside and then later explode or might want to commit suicide. The group leaders shared other techniques they can use to calm their emotions. The women also discussed that they enforce punishment rather than consequences with their children. Some of the women were interested in learning how to parent their children in other ways. They could see how caning their children was not actually the best way to respond to their children.

After leading the first group today, our team had a time of supervision, in which we were able to discuss how each group went. We heard some pretty traumatic stories (for example marital rape, FGM, affairs, and physical and spousal abuse). It was good to be able to talk about how it was to lead the groups and our responses to what we heard.

Dr. Reese led his presentation about hope. After his presentation, we split into our groups again and led the women in discussions about hope. Some of the groups were difficult to lead, as they did not want to talk at all. There were honorary grandmothers who encouraged the younger women to share their thoughts about hope and hopelessness. We noticed during the second supervision time that there were common themes during the hope group sessions. These common themes included persistent prayer, patience, and sharing problems with close friends.  

Our time of debriefing focused on releasing the stories that were heard throughout the day and discussing ways of how we will take care of ourselves so we will be refreshed and ready for our last full day here. Tomorrow is the men’s conference. Thanks for your prayers! Please pray for strength, energy, focus, and God’s heart for those we are ministering to tomorrow.

-Elena, Jen, Kelly, & Maria

PS- This blog may or may not have been written while listening to Justin Bieber, Eye of the Tiger, and Pocket Full of Sunshine. Self care, people – you do what you gotta do!

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