I have worked on many project before I started working for ‘Change Starts at Home’ and what I have found is that many projects, including those related to violence against women, only focus on the surface matters. This project is the first one I have seen that focuses on the issue from the core…(and) which works with couples, both husband and wife, to have a strong and healthy relationship – which ultimately prevents violence from taking place.
This project doesn’t directly focus on change at the community level but encourages individuals and couples to make small changes starting from themselves, their homes and their families. This moves slowly and steadily towards making a happy and violence free community, while addressing existing (negative) social norms and values which promote violence against women.
I am responsible for supporting 12 groups, both male and female. Whenever I am visiting these groups, I sit down with the members during their meeting and afterwards talk to them to see if they have any issues or need any help or support. While talking to the group members, they often tell me about the changes that have taken place in themselves, their relationship and in their home. Many approach me and tell me that we should’ve started the program 20 years ago, which would have helped them in having a better home and community by now.
Male members tell me that before coming to the program they used to see their wives as someone who was beneath them. They used to think that there was no point in sharing things with their wives and used to carry on as they pleased. But these days, after listening to the program, they have realize that sharing things with your spouse increases intimacy and makes the relationship strong and solid.
When these discussions first started, many members were shy and didn’t feel comfortable speaking in front of others. But as the weeks progressed, the same members have increased in confidence and I see them participating in the group activities and discussions without any hesitation. I was surprised to see such evident changes in the members when I visited the groups. Many members tell me that these days whenever they are fighting, they remember the program and realize that it’s not productive instead it only brings negativity. This realization makes them communicate in an effective way rather than fight.
Apart from the members, we have been receiving positive feedback from the community. Many community members stop me on the street to tell me that the initiative has been making positive changes among the group members. Whenever there is any community program, local leaders and officials invite me to talk in their program about prevention of violence against women. This just goes to show that our effort is appreciated by the community.
While working on the project (Change Starts at Home), I have come to realize that I have focused too much on the surface level before. This project has helped me realize that for a change to happen, first of all we need to be self-aware and we need to recognize ourselves, otherwise we may not be able to resolve any conflict that may arise in our lives. I make my husband listen to the radio program and even he has come to support me more these days after listening!