Sending the right messages
In Port Vila, Vanuatu, the Channels of Hope for Gender Sunday School curriculum has been introduced, with funding from the Australian Government and its Gender Action Platform.
“We are trying to ensure the children are hearing the right messages and learning positive skills early on, so that as they enter adulthood they might have a different way of thinking, or be less acceptant of violence inside relationships,” explains Abigail Howe-Will, Gender Manager for World Vision Pacific and Timor-Leste.
One local mother named Marie has noticed a change in the attitude of her son Daniel at home since the introduction of the program in Sunday School. “He now washes the dishes at home, helps to cook and gather firewood without us telling him,” she says. This is a significant change given the prevailing culture that normalises classifying tasks largely according to gender.
“We are taught respect, meaning we are all the same, so I no longer answer back when my parents speak to me, and I accept girls and don’t fight anymore,” says 10-year-old Daniel.
Quendolyn is a 12-year-old girl who is also attending these classes. “I used to fight a lot at home, but I have learnt that this is not right, so I no longer do this at home,” she says. “I really enjoy teacher Libby and these classes have helped me change so much, that now I even go home and speak to my parents about being respectful!”
Making a difference
Libby teaches Daniel and Quendolyn, and about 50 other children, due to a shortage of teachers. She says she knows it is a lot of work but it is a pleasure knowing that she is able to make a difference in their lives.
“If we teach the children at this young age, that teaching will shape them, they will grow up, they will be good parents in the future, and they will still model that out to their children,” says Joyce, a World Vision development facilitator.