Counseling workshops run by the Channels of Hope project of World Vision Vanuatu have moved up to Level One and the first sessions are taking place this week at the Owen Hall in Port Vila.

Manager of Channels of Hope Pastor Fiama Rakau, explains that Channels of Hope has run three workshops on the foundational level of counseling and this week from Monday through Friday, the Level One counseling working is being held.

“This week will be more practical, where participants will focus more on putting what they learned in the previous workshops into practice and honing their skills for counseling to use mainly to assist victims of domestic and other violence,” he explained.

Fifty participants were invited and they expected all 50 to attend and at the opening session Monday, there were already 43 attendants. They comprised pastors and their wives, chiefs, four from the police force, members of the youths and members of the women faith leaders.

Pastor Fiama Rakau says the goal of the project is to support faith-based organizations to reduce gender-based violence through training and awareness in communities in first of all Shefa and Tafea.

He says there are three expected outcomes for the project, which are: 1). for faith and community leaders to become champions to address gender-based violence and gender issues; 2). to partner with communities and service providers in order to strengthen their capacity to address gender-based violence; and 3). for community Hope Action Teams, which are committees, set up in the congregations to help bring about change of behaviors in the congregations and communities.

He explains that the decision to involve World Vision Vanuatu in addressing gender-based violence comes following a 2012/13 survey conducted throughout Vanuatu by the Vanuatu Women’s Center that showed that 60% of women in Vanuatu experienced some form of violence during their lifetime.

To help carry out its goal Channels of Hope has drawn up activities for each congregation made up of pastors and community members including youths, women, and men targeting gender-based violence.

They have faith leaders’ training workshops that equip leaders with ideas for carrying out activities in their congregations where they select members of their congregations who form Action Teams to spearhead activities.

The main workshop trainer is Kara Duncan-Hewitt of Liberty Training in New Zealand and she is assisted by Pastor Rakau, Sharyn Wobur – training facilitator, and Amy Gardiner – Technical Quality Program Adviser all of Channels of Hope project.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: Cell # 678 5460922

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