Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "The family is one of the most precious values that the Church holds and promotes. If things are right in the family, society will thrive. If things begin going wrong at the family level, society is going to be affected. God intended that as the first unit of society, the family should be a place of holiness, communion and love", says His Exc. Mgr. John Oballa Owaa, Bishop of Ngong, addressing the Coordinators of family life of his diocese who participated in the training seminar on the prevention of family violence.
A training workshop was organized by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) – Family Life National Office and it was the first in a series of trainings planned across the Catholic dioceses in Kenya to address the rising incidences of GBV in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
Mgr. Owaa, said the Catholic Church is deeply concerned over the rising incidences of violence in families and called on couples to embrace compassion and love for one another.
"God’s word can heal our anger, intolerance and tendency to violence so that we can start to treat one another with love and mercy in all situations without calculation, especially with those we live with", emphasizes the Bishop. "I believe we give room to intolerance and violence when we begin calculating. When people start calculating, they give room to sow discord and bring bitterness".
Mgr. Owaa called on the coordinators to strive to have model families and be examples that others can emulate: "I call on you to reflect on whether you are the man or woman, husband or wife, father or mother, that you should be. God has expectations of you and the Church too has expectations of you".
"If all families understood the ministry of the Church, GBV would have no place whatsoever in the society", said Mgr. Oballa. "If everyone saw in every human being, a child of God, GBV would be non-existent. Please go out and be ambassadors of God’s love and peace".
The Bishop urged the coordinators that success in their work of combating violence in the society will not depend on their numbers but their commitment to the cause. He reminded them that Jesus only had 12 apostles but the message of salvation has today reached the ends of the world.
"You just need a few people who grasp the message and are convinced to be able to pass the message and influence the attitudes and habits of others".
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, 23.6% of Kenyans have witnessed or learned of cases of domestic violence in their communities since the restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were introduced. The national helpline for victims of gender-based violence received 810 calls in September, compared to 646 cases in August, a 25% increase. All cases received psychosocial first aid (PFA).
A study conducted by the Ministry of Health and Population Council (April 2020) showed that 39% of women and 32% of men experienced tension in their home environment. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/11/2020)