CNVC International Intensive Training on Nonviolent Communication in Tanzania 2022 – Report
On June 24, 2022, 79 people from 14 countries came together at our chosen venue, the convent of St. Carolus, located at the foot of Mount Meru in Arusha, Tanzania. For 9 days, we lived, learned and exchanged situations with Nonviolent Communication together under a tent and in African winter temperatures. Many of the Masai people wrapped themselves in their colorful blankets and shared coats. The ratio of the participants were two thirds women and one third men.
How did this workshop come about?
Since 2007, in Ruhpolding, Germany, I’m offering GFK trainings “First Call for Children”. One of the outcome of my Ruhpolding Workshops is the connection to Martha from Tanzania. Together, we decided to organise an international NVC training in her hometown, Arusha, to develop and deepen the NVC community in some African countries. From this background, the International Intensive Training (IIT) in Tanzania came to life, here with 6 international trainers and 5 local team members.
The participants of the IIT arose from a variety of countries and organizations working with empowering women, children and families in diverse communities, such as Montessori teachers, NGOs working in the field of family planning and women’s health, women’s councils working with Masai communities, microcredit programs for sustainability, shelters and programs for orphans, a program supporting failing secondary students, a girl’s home and empowerment program, an educational program promoting partnerships, the African Wildlife Conservation, the Rift Valley program welcoming and educating orphans, organizations establishing a community clinic for school children and their communities, others supporting entrepreneurship, and more.
Their professions were teachers, social workers, priests, nuns, technicians, activists, entrepreneurs, and lawyers.
Two evenings were dedicated to 18 participants’ presentations of their work with the intent to support learning and networking between the different organizations. One example of project networking was the topic “family planning and contraception” presented by a Kenyan NGO. The microcredit women’s group from Kenya was interested in collaborating with them on exploring how to reach out to women who have up to 16 children, and how to include men in their projects.
Some of the important topics brought forth by participants were:
- still ongoing corporal punishment in schools and at home,
- the realities of rape, forced early childhood marriages, and domestic violence and to implement change,
- creating a safe space for girls (and women) to grow up and to trust that they are free to express themselves,
- inclusion in decision-making within the family and their clan,
- choosing their own way of life without the consequence of oppression,
- the ability to own property and keep their earnings.
Some expressions we heard from participants:
- “After having attended the 3-day training in 2019, I love this continuity that sustains us.”
- “This particular training has been life changing.”
- “I enjoyed the diversity of the trainers and their unique facilitation styles because I love to experience creativity and people being themselves.”
- “I feel rejuvenated and energized when I hear the stories of what each is doing, and I see a connected world in the near future.”
- “The trainers and organizers made the sessions fun, engaging and practical. They managed to make us one big family.”
- “I learned how to say ”No” to the things that do not meet my needs.”
- “We felt accompanied at every step.”
- “I now have a deep connection with myself and can identify my needs. I believe my marriage will never be the same after this training.”
- “It gave me time to interact with other participants who are doing similar projects and the networking was good. I wish to attend more NVC trainings so that I can practice this way of life.”
- “NVC has connected me with my children, now am not just a mother to them, but a mother and friend.”
We have now completed this training with a deep sense of learning, and gratitude for all the sharing from the participants whose daily challenges are hard for us to imagine. Living in communities where women and children are seen but not heard, where they are considered a man’s property rather than a full human being, is hard to accompany.
In this workshop I met people, here mainly women, who do not dare to look you in the eyes. This results from a culture in which men have a very superior position. There are still many rather rural areas, not only in Tanzania, also in Kenya and other African countries, where the girl should not go to school, because then the household help is missing, and/or she has to get married early so that bride money flows into the family cash box.
A quote from an African man: “It is beneath the dignity of a grown man to work.” Heard many times, seen even more.
I was shocked at the level of domestic violence. All the (female) Montessori students looked at me in amazement when I asked them about their experiences with it. They all witnessed it, some with great intensity.
My aim and desire is to show the girls and women and the open-minded men a different consciousness of equality, which — to me — is central in the NVC. It is a personal concern of mine to support people with this workshop to learn to appreciate their own power, economically as well as personally, in order to reach equality between women and men.
In closing, one more participant’s feedback, from the director of a girl’s empowerment NGO:
“I have frustrated my daughter and my husband, my employees just tolerated me, I have been treating people like robots. But now I have started connecting with them, understanding their needs, and requesting instead of commanding or demanding. It is beautiful, I am less stressed, happier, and I feel healthier. I sleep better and people love being around me. Thank you, these have been the best days of my adult life.”