For many women participating in the life skills track of the Skills/Startup Training Empowerment and Practice (STEP) programme, forgiveness is a completely new subject. “No one says sorry here,” explained one of the local Operation Mercy staff who helps with the sessions on forgiveness and moving on from loss. Though she has worked with the team for three years, she said she’s never asked anyone for forgiveness. In her culture, it is very hard to go on that road of making peace.
In this context, young women often struggle in their relationships with their mothers-in-law, who generally live in the same flat. But when we hate people, it is as if we were tied to them with a rope, the life skills trainer explained. In a role play designed to illustrate this principle, one participant took the part of a young married women, while another acted as the mother-in-law. The trainer tied them together with the rope, so that one could not go anywhere without the other. The older lady criticised the younger woman harshly and made her life difficult. As a result, “your heart is full of resentment towards her!” the trainer said. “Wherever you go, shopping or whatever you do, she is there with you. You are tied with the bonds of resentment. That means you are not free.”
After a few more practical examples, the women got the point! The rope exercise was funny, but they all understood it. Forgiveness is not only part of peacemaking but is necessary for their own sakes: If you want to live free, you need to forgive.