A path to building healthy relationships and happy families in Sri Lanka

Children participate in the Nuwara Eliya Area Program’s MenCare Family Retreat in May 2017. Photo courtesy of World Vision Lanka.

Photo courtesy of World Vision Lanka.

In May 2017, World Vision Lanka’s Nuwara Eliya Area Program in Sri Lanka organized a MenCare Family Retreat – a two-day residential program – for MenCare fathers’ group participants and their families. Men from the community who had completed six sessions based on MenCare’s Program P were invited to participate in the retreat, along with their partners and children.

At the retreat, World Vision staff and external professionals conducted awareness-raising workshops on a variety of topics, including healthy sexual relationships, sharing household responsibilities, and nonviolent communication between spouses. The retreat also provided an important opportunity for couples to talk to each other, develop closer relationships, reflect on the past, and plan for the future. Many men and women do not often spend time discussing their family matters or planning for their future together, since the men typically make decisions alone and women often have limited decision-making power. This program presented a much-needed space for couples to practice healthy communication, shared decision-making, and joint visioning for their families.

Children at the retreat participated in a separate set of sessions tailored to their ages and interests. Through storytelling, participants learned about threats children face in society, including threats from strangers, and about how to protect themselves if such incidents occur. Additional sessions gave children the opportunity to sing and learn to play the keyboard. The percentage of children who learn music in Sri Lanka’s estate sector is low, as the schools do not have musical instruments or trained teachers. The children found the retreat’s musical sessions to be a new and different experience, which they enjoyed a lot.