Friday, September 17, 2010

Men As Partners (M.A.P.)

Aloughba, Toussaint and Douve on the way to the M.A.P. conference
 Last week I and three of my village partners, (Alougba, Two-Sain and Douve) participated in a three day conference called M.A.P. (Men As Partners.) The conference was held in Zafi, a little village about ten miles from Tcheckpo. Every morning the four of us would catch a bush taxi to Ahepe, and then moto to Zafi, and every evening we would go home the same way. Participants came to this conference from six surrounding villages. There were about twenty-five participants, and five trainers. This is a very new program that was initiated in Togo by the Peace Corps. Basically it teaches men how to be more involved in their families lives, it shows them a better or different view of what their wives and women have to deal with on a daily basis, and it teaches women a better understanding of their men’s issues, fears, and the day to day internal conflict they experience as a man in Togo.

The conference kick-off was a fun, inter-active group exercise that illustrated the fact that we need to respect each other’s opinions, and the fact people naturally will have very opposing beliefs about issues.

The conference was amazing, professional, effective and well organized. The facilitators, Sekou, a one year PCV, and Rose, the Area Director for this Peace Corps Program were dynamic facilitators and speakers. They captured the entire groups attention. Everything was well planned out, with a doable agenda for all three days. I wondered how the concept would be perceived and how my village participants would react. It was a lot to ask, to have them spend three days away from however it is they make a living, travel to Zafi and attend this conference.

We broke up into groups and thoroughly examined several difficult issues they all experience, such as sexual harassment towards women, all different kinds of violence towards men, and how they deal with it. Excessive use of alcohol. The discussions were animated and pertinent. At the end of the second day, six groups of four people each put on a
sketch about a particular issue that had been discussed, debated and rehearsed. The sketches were performed in front of villagers from Zafi. At least sixty people from the little village of Zafi came to see the sketches. (This is one of the many things you have to appreciate about an event like this…that the Peace Corps Volunteers, not only put on a great and relevant conference, but they also got the whole village of Zafi involved in the conversation.) At the end of the sketches we had a question and answer session from the audience. The audience was engaged and asked insightful questions.

PCV Abby presenting me with my certificate

The last day of the conference was all about what were we now going to do with this information and insight. How/when/where are we going to bring this back to our individual villages. My three guests already have a calendar of future events for M.A.P. We will meet together soon, and decide how we will get the word out about the upcoming programs. They would like to put on one program a month for the next six months.  The facilitators and the participants each received a certificate for completing the program.

Toussaint - Proud New Trainer for M.A.P.
 In the wrap-up session, we went around the room and asked people for final comments about the conference. Toussaint said, “I want to take the information back and share it with my community, but first I see that I need to make changes in myself."

Zafi M.A.P. Class of 2010

M.A.P. (Men as Partners) A Peace Corps Success Story


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