“The shame that a community puts on a woman who is an impoverished, single mother feels like rocks that one must constantly carry in a backpack. The weight is so unbearably heavy that we take it out on our families by shouting at them, belittling them and sometimes physically punishing them,” explained the leader of Operation Mercy’s women’s empowerment group.
Identifying with this description, one woman in the group shared about the shame she was carrying. Then the whole group responded—not by putting her down as she was expecting, but rather pulling her up by saying that they’d been in the same situation. They encouraged her to speak words of affirmation and love to her family and, in this way, to break the cycle of shame that she had learnt from her own parents.
“Speak kind words, show love and appreciation to your children and value them. They grow through this love,” the women told her.
The women shared that they had not heard this advice before coming to the group, but now they understand the importance of appreciating others. By identifying relational problems in their community and working together to solve them, the women in this group are empowering one another to be peacemakers within their families and communities through sharing their stories and affirming positive change.