For Rose and her seven children, life with Alfred was hell. “He would get home late and beat us all up. He was always drunk and I struggled to raise the children with no support from their father” Rose explains. Neighbours frequently intervened during his violent bouts but eventually gave up. When Rose suffered serious injuries, she would return to her parents’ home. “I kept coming back because of my children. We wasted resources with him paying fines to my relatives and on medical treatment for my injuries” she adds.
By the time Alfred was approached by the SASA Community Activists (CAs) several community members had tried to help, failed and given up. CAs are male and female local volunteers who signed up to champion happy homes, peaceful communities and a violence-free Aromo sub-county.
After the 2012 Peace Expo, on the request of locals, Isis-WICCE, local partner WOPI-U and the Lira district local government leaders partnered to equip these CAs to inspire positive change within their own communities. Aromo in Lira district has registered alarmingly high rates of domestic violence linked to drunkenness, conflict over family resources, multiple sexual partners, child and forced marriages among other issues.
“The CAs visited me and kept talking to us. They made it everyone’s concern,” a reformed Alfred narrates. The SASA model focuses on mobilizing the community to question power imbalances between men and women and reshape harmful social practices, which cause violence. This method of reflection was particularly useful for Alfred. He explains, “I hated everyone. I would beat anyone who came my way. One of my children used to call me the neighbor and not her father because of how I treated them.”
Over time, Alfred has been able to turn away from the life of violence. He says, “My friends think I am not normal and will not handle this life. They sometimes offer to buy me alcohol but I no longer spend time with them.” Since this transformation, he has got a job as a Casual Worker at the sub-county and started farming on eight acres of land.
“Rose and I now work together and plan together. I no longer spend money on alcohol so she doesn’t have to pay school fees alone. We no longer fight and I started associating with good peers.” Alfred says.