JOSEPH Elias (32) is just one of men in Serengeti District who have vowed to stop beating their wives after receiving education through 'The Serengeti We Can Live Without HIV/AIDS, Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) programme.
"Before getting this education I used to beat my wife very often and I have even been planning a circumcision ceremony for my daughter but I have changed my mind," Mr Elias, a resident of Hekwe village in Serengeti District, told the 'Daily News' shortly after receiving the education. Given through video, the education was towards positive changes against gender based violence early this month.
About 706 villagers received the education, which initially targeted 600 people in six villages of the district. A large part of Serengeti District is reserved for wildlife. The area, including the world heritage of Serengeti National Park, is protected.The villages are Hekwe, Nyagasense, Mesaga, Nyambureti, Kenyana and Maburi.
Unlike other villagers, Mr Elias hailed the programme, pledging to become a role model in respecting human rights."I have now changed and it is like I am born again. I am now going to spread the education in my society," he pointed out.Rhobi Samweli, the programme coordinator, said hundreds of villagers got opportunity to view a number of gender based violence cases such as wife beating, early marriages and female circumcision on videos during the campaign.
"After that they were given education on types of gender based violence and their effects and finally they discussed what should be done to reduce gender based violence. The Serengeti We Can Live without HIV/AIDS and Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a fresh one-year programme executed by Anglican Church Mara Diocese with sponsorship of Rapid Fund Envelop (RFE).
It aims to cut down gender based violence cases and the spread of HIV/AIDS in many parts of rural Serengeti.The programme was officially launched on May 5 this year by former Serengeti District Commissioner (DC) Mr Edward Lenga.So far a total of 48 peer educators have been trained on how to spread anti-gender based violence education in 12 villages of the district under the programme.
"We have also provided peer educators with working facilities such as bicycles and they are doing an impressive job," the progamme coordinator said.Serengeti is one of the districts with the highest cases of gender based violence cases including women to women marriage in Mara region.
Local leaders have also expressed satisfaction on the performance of the programme, predicting more positive changes."Some men have beaten to death their wives but the programme has helped reduce such incidents in my village," the chairman of Maburi village, Mr Amos Kehori, said.The programme has also helped to cut down the number of young girls lined up for circumcision in the area this year.
Traditional, local and religious leaders are other stakeholders taking part in the programme, which also uses community meetings, featuring traditional dances, radio programmes, peer educators, posters and booklets to impart anti-gender based violence education campaign in the target villages.
"We wish this programme were extended to other wards because Serengeti district has 28 wards but so far only three wards are covered," Ms Rhobi said.She appealed for other stakeholders to chip in and support the efforts made by Anglican Church.Apart from providing spiritual service, the church has striven to support a number of community projects in various parts of Mara region under the leadership of Bishop Hilkiah Omindo Deya.