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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.