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Project dldl/ድልድል, led by Dr Romina Istratii from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has now trained 156 members of the clergy of the Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo Church (EOTC) in collaboration with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC), who is a formal partner to the project. The workshops are part of a pilot that aims to train 200 EOTC clergy and to evaluate the intervention using rigorous research methods to judge effectiveness.
The workshops were designed by Dr Romina Istratii on the basis of previous long-term anthropological research with EOTC clergy in Tigray, northern Ethiopia. They seek to improve the clergy’s understanding of domestic violence in rural communities and towns and to build their preparedness to respond to the problem in their communities. The workshops leverage on theology-informed teaching on gender relations, marriage and conjugal cohabitation, an understanding of the psychology of domestic violence and the resourcefulness of spiritual life and religious beliefs among the laity to improve how clergy in villages and towns respond to victims, survivors and perpetrators.
In addition to presenting on the ethnographic realities and communities’ own understandings of and attitudes towards domestic violence, the workshops include theological material to clarify Church teachings on marriage-related issues and domestic violence primarily drawn from the homilies of St John Chrysostom, safeguarding training focusing on the need for confidentiality and non-judgemental approaches to avoid re-traumatisation and retaliation, and legal and referral information on domestic violence that clergy can share with victims.
The workshops are delivered in Amharic and include reflection exercises, group activities and scenario and case studies to achieve a more interactive approach and to facilitate real-time learning. The workshops are facilitated by Dr Romina Istratii, who is supported by two co-trainers: deacon and psychology counsellor Mr Henok Hailu, and attorney and consultant in law Ms Beza Birhanu.
A summary of the workshop content can be found on the website of project dldl/ድልድል under Resources for Clergy and Seminarians in Amharic and English.
A detailed report on the workshops’ approach will be made available after the delivery of the full series of workshops and when the evaluation has been completed. This is anticipated sometime in February or March 2022.