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Engagement & Integration

Outputs

Project dldl/ድልድል envisions its impact to be achieved through direct engagement with religious and secular stakeholder groups and communities in order to build mutual understanding and capacity for more integrated approaches towards addressing the complex issue of domestic violence.

On the one hand, the project works to build the preparedness of clergy in Ethiopia, Eritrea and the UK to respond to domestic violence, and to sensitise communities of believers by improving literacy in theology so as to reverse those folklore understandings of gender and marriage that contribute to the problem.

In parallel, the project works to improve religio-cultural literacy and sensitivity among secular stakeholders (governmental and non-governmental), and to support community organisations in responding more effectively to the needs of the communities they serve through a better integration of religio-cultural parameters and the clergy present in local communities.

An overarching objective is to reverse simplistic representations of the roles played by the clergy and by religious beliefs and experience in the perpetuation or acceptance of domestic violence – representations that currently hinder integrated, collaborative and multisectoral approaches – and to promote more substantive collaboration between religious and secular organisations and stakeholders working to address domestic violence in the respective countries.

Our Activities

Project dldl/ድልድል initiates collaboration with Ethiopian organisation Fnot (ፍኖት) to co-produce faith-informed counselling programme to support domestic violence victims and perpetrators

2 March 2022

On Adwa Day in Ethiopia, the Project dldl/ድልድል team visited the offices of Fnot (ፍኖት), a newly founded organisation that works to provide faith-informed psychological support to Ethiopians affected by domestic violence, mental health and other psychological issues. The organisation is led by the humble vision and hard work of Kesis Yigzaw, who is both a priest and a trained psychologist, and a team of highly motivated Board members combining psychological, theological, legal and other skills and professional training. Project dldl/ድልድል met with the Fnot leadership to explore how the two initiatives can work together to co-design and implement a faith-informed counselling programme to support domestic violence victims and perpetrators in Ethiopia. Dr Romina Istratii discussed the project’s vision to develop a faith-informed treatment programme for perpetrators leveraging on psychological techniques and theology. The meeting concluded with both parties’ commitment to future collaboration motivated by a vision to make faith-informed psychological counselling more widely accessible to the Ethiopian public.

Project dldl/ድልድል team visits the offices of Setaweet in Addis Ababa to discuss synergies

28 February 2022

Today, Dr Romina Istratii and Ms Etsegenet Hailemekael of project dldl/ድልድል visited the offices of Setaweet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The team met with Founder Dr Sehin Teferra and colleagues at Setaweet to share knowledge and experience and to explore synergies. The meeting revolved around the importance of engaging both secular and faith-based organisations and stakeholders in the response to domestic violence, the role of faith and the clergy in the Ethiopian rural (and urban) context specifically, and pathways to productive cross-sectoral integration and collaboration. Inter alia, project dldl/ድልድል and Setaweet discussed the possibility of holding a roundtable at a future conference planned by project dldl/ድልድል that will aim to bring together secular and religious stakeholders in an effort to take a more substantive step into establishing mutual understanding, dialogue and collaboration in the advocacy and promotion of women’s and gender issues.

Dr Istratii delivered talk on research ethics, decolonial reflexivity and data management at the office of the National Union of Eritrean Women in Eritrea

11 February 2022

During her recent stay in Asmara, Dr Romina Istratii was invited to deliver a talk on research ethics and data management applying a decolonial perspective fitting to the context of Eritrea. The talk took place at the offices of the National Union of Eritrean Women and was attended by over 30 female members working in different civil service and government sectors. The talk, lasting over two hours, covered themes such as obtaining informed consent, respecting confidentiality and/or anonymity, data management and accountability, as well as research reflexivity regarding positionality in research and one’s relationship to communities. Dr Romina Istratii explored the principle of ‘objectivity’ in research and discussed how the subjectivity-grounded nature of all research could be navigated to conduct valuable research. The presentation concluded with a group photo to commemorate the beginning of what is hoped to be a long-term relationship between Dr Istratii and SOAS with the National Union of Eritrean Women.

Project dldl/ድልድል formalizes work in Eritrea with Dr Romina Istratii’s visit to the country

6 February 2022

On 6 February, Dr Romina Istratii arrived in Asmara, Eritrea to formally launch project dldl/ድልድል in the country and to meet with the coordinating organisation, Waniney, and to support the development of project activities in the country. Since her arrival, Dr Istratii has worked side-by-side with the local team of Eritrean researchers (recruited into the project in earlier months) to complete a literature review on domestic violence and religious parameters and to finalise the research methodology and approach for country-wide fieldwork to be undertaken in the next following weeks by an Eritrean research team. Dr Istratii and the Founder of Waniney, Ms Mebrak Ghebreweldi, also met with the Board of Advisors to the project, who combine key stakeholders including the National Union of Eritrean Women, the College of Business and Social Sciences at Adi Keih, the Youth Association, the Office of Religious Affairs, as well as public health specialists, clergy and nationally recognised cultural advisers.

Project dldl/ድልድል met with the Norwegian Church Aid in Addis Ababa to explore integration and evidence-sharing

9 November 2021

Today the project dldl/ድልድል team visited the offices of the Norwegian Church Aid organisation in Addis Ababa. Dr Romina Istratii was invited by Programme Advisor on GBV Mr Mengistie Tegenie to create connections and explore synergies and possible integration across their respective projects on GBV and domestic violence working with faith actors and theology. Mr Tegenie presented the NCA’s working model in Ethiopia, lessons learned and specific activities in addressing GBV and other gender-related issues. The team was later joined by NCA Director in Ethiopia Mr Eivind Aalborg, who shared with Dr Istratii the organisation’s beginnings and progression in Ethiopia since 1974 and discussed the importance of integrating more research-based approaches and rigorous assessment for achieving a dynamic learning within and across social impact projects. Both sides agreed to meet again to discuss a possible long-term partnership and areas of collaboration, such as in capacity building for conducting rigorous research and integrating each others’ activities to achieve scaling out effects.

Project dldl/ድልድል has trained over 150 Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo clergy in Amhara region of Ethiopia

4-7 October 2021

In the past week, the project dldl/ድልድል team delivered two more workshops with Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo Church clergy, completing training of over 150 EOTC clergy in year 2021. The workshops are organised in collaboration with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church Development and Inter-Church Aid Commission (EOC-DICAC) in Ethiopia working through the Church structure and with the support of local diocese offices. The workshops were designed by Dr Romina Istratii on the basis of previously completed long-term anthropological research with EOTC clergy in northern Ethiopia, and seek to improve the clergy’s preparedness to respond to victims and perpetrators sensitively. The workshops include ethnographic findings on domestic violence and faith, theological material to clarify Church teachings on marriage-related issues and domestic violence drawn from the homilies of St John Chrysostom, safeguarding training focusing on the need for confidentiality and non-judgemental approaches to avoid re-traumatisation/retaliation, and legal and referral information about domestic violence. The workshops are delivered in Amharic and include reflection exercises, group activities and scenario and case studies and are facilitated by Dr Romina Istratii and co-delivered with the support of two trainers, deacon and psychology counsellor Mr Henok Hailu and attorney and consultant in law Ms Beza Birhanu.

Project dldl/ድልድል met with the Peace and Development Centre to explore collaboration on trauma-centred initiative in Tigray

1 September 2021

Project dldl/ድልድል met with colleagues at the Peace and Development Centre in Addis Ababa to share lessons and explore collaboration in a trauma-centred initiative that seeks to respond to war violence, including SGBV, in Tigray region. Dr Romina Istratii shared findings from an extensive literature review that explored psychosocial responses in conflict and emergency contexts, drawing attention to complex trauma and the anticipated increase in domestic violence and other forms of violence during and post-conflict. She emphasised the need for responses that combine society-wide support with psychological clinical counselling as per individual need.  Project dldl/ድልድል and PDC colleagues also discussed the centrality of the clergy and religious beliefs in the life of the local communities and identified ways of effectively engaging the clergy in awareness-raising and collective trauma healing processes. The meeting concluded on the note that project dldl/ድልድል and PDC should continue to share knowledge and work to identify ways of collaborating in an integrated manner in the future.

Dr Romina Istratii consulted on UK's response to the humanitarian crisis and extensive SGBV in Tigray region

23 July 2021

On Friday, Dr Romina Istratii met with colleagues from the British Embassy in Ethiopia and the UK’s FCDO department in order to discuss the current humanitarian crisis in Tigray and appropriate responses to extensive SGBV in the region. Dr Istratii was approached due to her specialised research in the region and as a result of the more recent work conducted within the context of project dldl/ድልድል that explored the relationship between war violence, mental health trauma and domestic violence. Dr Istratii discussed thoroughly the need for evidence-based religio-culturally sensitive approaches that leverage on productive collaborations with local researchers in Tigray and Ethiopia and more reflexive community engagement approaches that do not perpetuate colonial dynamics as seen often in the humanitarian sector.

Project dldl/ድልድል team visited Erk Mead mental health trauma healing centre to share experience and explore collaboration

24 May 2021

Project dldl/ድልድል visited the Erk Mead mental health trauma healing centre to share experiences and to explore collaboration and opportunities for integrating their respective work. Dr Romina Istratii and Ms Tigist Waltenigus, the CEO of Erk Mead, discussed at length the lessons learned from the organisation’s work on mental health trauma, the need to provide culture-sensitive support that considers how communities and individuals in Ethiopia have traditionally thought about mental health and to integrate faith as this is an important parameter in everyday life for most Ethiopians. Dr Istratii shared her research conducted previously in Tigray that had explored the role of faith and the clergy in marriage and situations of domestic violence and spoke about the need for faith-based treatment approaches for perpetrators and psychosocial support for victims/survivors. The two also discussed the mental health of the clergy and the need to support religious personnel psychologically to address their own traumas and to be able to respond more effectively to the traumatic experiences of the individuals they support spiritually.

Dr Romina Istratii visited Debre Birhan, North Shoa Zone in preparation of workshop delivery with Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo clergy

18-19 May 2021

The team of project dldl/ድልድል successfully launched a series of 10 workshops to build the preparedness of Ethiopian Orthodox Täwahәdo clergy in Debre Birhan to respond to domestic violence in their communities. The first workshop, which lasted two half-days, was comprised of discussion, group activities and presentations led by the delivery team, comprised of Dr Romina Istratii, deacon and psychology counsellor Henok Hailu and project assistant Ms Liya Desta. The team was also accompanied by Mr Aklil Damtew, the project coordinator at the partner organisation, EOC DICAC. Participants included 22 members of EOTC clergy from the area of Debre Birhan and the surrounding countryside, of different rankings. At the end of the workshop, participants were handed free booklets containing summaries of the workshop content, including experiences and understandings of domestic violence from the countryside of Ethiopia, theological teachings on marriage, spousal cohabitation and domestic violence and safeguarding protocols when advising victims and perpetrators of violence to minimise risks. Workshops were recorded to be assessed for research purposes, and assessment questionnaires were filled in by participants to review the quality and usefulness of the workshops.

Project dldl/ድልድል visited the offices of JeCCDO in Ethiopia to explore integration approaches

6 May 2021

Project dldl/ድልድል visited the offices of Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organisation in Gurd Shola, Addis Ababa to explore potential for knowledge exchange and opportunities for integrating its activities with the work of JeCCDO. Dr Romina Istratii and the Director of JeCCDO, Mr Mulugeta Gebru, along with other colleagues from project dldl/ድልድል and JeCCDO discussed the nature of their respective projects, their approaches working from the ground-up with communities and the importance of integrating religio-cultural parameters and stakeholders in approaches to address community issues. Mr Gebru shared many decades’ experiences about the successes and challenges of JeCCDO and approved of the decolonial, evidence-based approach of project dldl/ድልድል and the project’s trust-based approach to achieving integration with other organisations working in local communities.

Dr Romina Istratii discussed collaboration potential between project dldl/ድልድል and EMIRTA (እምርታ) Research, Training and Development Institute

20 March 2021

Dr Romina Istratii met with EMIRTA director, Mr Zinawork Assefa, and a group of colleagues comprising the new EMIRTA Research, Training and Development Institute to explore collaboration and further knowledge exchange between the two initiatives and how project dldl/ድልድል could help to promote the institute’s strategic goals. EMIRTA colleagues praised the approach of project dldl/ድልድል to emphasise ethnographic and participatory approaches to research on religious and gender issues, condoning the need for raising more awareness in the country around cognitive and scientific colonisation and stressing the need for substantive engagement with indigenous knowledge and wisdom, including in addressing the issue of domestic violence in Ethiopia’s religious societies

Dr Romina Istratii presented research completed in Aksum at EOC DICAC

8 December 2020

Dr Romina Istratii presented the results of her research completed with clergy and laity in Aksum to explore domestic violence attitudes and realities to the director of EOC DICAC, Mr Yilikal Shiferaw, the head of the Department of Health, Mr Bantamlak Gelaw, and project staff, Mr Aklil Damtew, at their offices in Arat Kilo, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. Following the presentation, which the audience found highly accurate and insightful of Ethiopian rural realities, EOC DICAC agreed to enter in collaboration with project dldl/ድልድል to disseminate the evidence and put it to practice, such as by facilitating the delivery of a series of workshops with clergy in Ethiopia.