Women Learning Together in Guatemala: Training Church Leaders in Guatemala to Teach others about Domestic Violence
Day 1 of 3: Thursday August 17, 2017: Reflections on the First Day of the Conference
A few weeks before my first trip to Guatemala, in 2007, I was in a panic about having promised to lead a workshop on Domestic Violence with the women of Huitan, the village we had been invited to visit on that trip. So I did what most of us do these days when we want more information about something—I Googled “Domestic Violence and Guatemala.” One of the articles that popped up was about two women, one from Guatemala, and one from the United States, who had met on an airplane in the US, and through that encounter had begun to provide programs on Domestic Violence for women throughout Central America. When they met that day, the Guatemalan Woman, Betty, spoke no English, and the woman from the US, Sandi, spoke no Spanish, but by the end of the flight, they had planned a visit that has led to a long and continuing ministry and friendship. As I read the article I thought what interesting and admirable women they were, and hoped to meet them some day. This weekend, I have the honor and privilege and blessing of co-leading a workshop/training for Guatemalan women with both of them, Betty Carrera of the Women’s Pastoral Program at CEDEPCA and Sandi Thompson-Royer, PCUSA Mission Co-Worker who works with the Sinodica (Church-wide Women’s Organization in Guatemala). I have known both of them for years, but as we began the workshop today, I suddenly remembered that they were the two women in that article I read ten years ago. http://www.thefigtree.org/sept06/090106nicaragua.html
Betty Carrera, Kathy Gorman-Coombs, Sandi Thompson-Royer, and Mary Flammer
The seeds of the workshop were planted several months ago by Sandi, as she sent out emails to a variety of women, in both Guatemala and the States, inviting us all to consider assisting in the leadership of a “Train the Trainer” workshop, where we’d provide training for a few women from each of various presbyteries and communities throughout Guatemala, who then would go home with resources and knowledge to share with other women in their communities, about preventing Domestic Violence (DV) and responding to and helping victims of DV. Out of those invites, six of us have planned via Skype for a few months, and gathered together 3 days ago at Sandi’s home in Guatemala to begin planning in person. In addition to we three there is:
- Sue, a retired mental health nurse from Portland, Oregon, who is in Guatemala for the second time,
- Mary, an entrepreneur of sorts from Colorado who came to Guatemala for a visit a few years ago, and never left,
- Juana, a leader from the Mam community, and
- Rubenia, a young woman who works with Living Waters for the World and is a very skilled (and patient) interpreter.
Today was the first day of the actual workshop, and it went really well despite some “glitches.” As often happens in Guatemala, there were problems along the road for the van that brought about half of the participants (who had begun travelling at about 6 am a 4-5 hour trip that took 9 hours), meaning we had to re-configure the schedule in order to make sure all participants got what was most significant. But once we got started, all were eager to participate and learn, stories and experiences and loving support were shared, in the ways that women do . . . . Mary is sharing ideas for self-care, Sue teaching about listening and basic supportive skills, Sandi and Betty and I are taking turns teaching about various aspects of Domestic Violence, and I had the blessing of leading a Bible study on Genesis 1:26-7—reminding us that all of us, women as well as men, are created in God’s image and carry the spark of that image for always.
As it says on the CEDEPCA T-shirt:
“Violenzia contra mujer es violenzia contra el Imagio de Dios.” (Violence against women is violence against the image of God.)
For Day 2 Reflections, please click here
For Day 3 Reflections, please click here
Did you know we have a Men’s Trip coming up this Fall to address the same topic? Learn more here: Men’s Trip to the Mam Presbytery, Guatemala – Nov 2017 by Tim Coombs
Kathy serves as co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY. In addition to working as a Teaching Elder, Kathy earned her Master of Social Work from Rockefeller College at SUNY Albany, and is a Licensed Master Social Worker and works part-time as a Domestic Violence Counselor at the YWCA of Schenectady, where her work includes a support group for women at the County Jail. You can reach Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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