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Addressing male trauma and changing perceptions of traditional gender roles in rural DRC

As explained to us by one male Healing in Harmony participant in Mulamba, a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, women have traditionally been viewed as ‘weak creatures, helpless, cursed, and who are better for house work and that is all. Their role is to serve men, to bear children, to take care of the family, go to the field to dig and bring food, fetch water, do dishes…’

This is something that is introduced to girls and boys at a young age, to differentiate the work between that of a girl and a boy. Consequently, preference is given to boys and low value is placed on educating girls. Women are left out of decision-making situations, their perspectives wholly ignored.

With our partners at Panzi Hospital and Foundations, Make Music Matter has sought to address gender inequality while helping men in the community to heal their own trauma experienced from the violence and instability in the conflict-ridden region.

As part of a gender-transformative approach, the Healing in Harmony program has invited male participants to think differently about what it means to be a man, and about how the empowerment of girls and women can lead to more positive outcomes for all.

“After sharing the pain I held for a long time in my life, I left feeling so good and cannot remember the last time I felt like that.”

 

– Healing in Harmony artist in Mulamba

Last fall, MMM Lead Therapist Justin Cikuru shared the story of ‘Daniel’, a Healing in Harmony artist in Mulamba who rediscovered a sense of living thanks to the therapy sessions.

Justin has since met with other program graduates who have expressed gratitude for what the therapy has brought them both physically and psychologically. One man said, “After sharing the pain I held for a long time in my life, I left feeling so good and cannot remember the last time I felt like that. Now I feel at peace and can sleep. I’m not feeling tired as I used to feel since I had sleep problems for a long time, but now, I can sleep and feel good in my body.”

The men of Mulamba have found something that money could not offer – peace of mind.

Since participating in the Healing in Harmony program, many have witnessed dramatic changes in their family life. Having learned new ways of coping, they now notice how much money, energy, and time they have lost at the expense of spending quality time with their families and supporting their wives.

They hope to spread the positive messages received in the sessions to encourage the development of the community, changing negative mentalities and adopting the positive ones which they now see as essential for their well-being.

“I underestimated myself in the community when I remembered everything that had happened to me. But today, I feel proud. I think I am capable and useful to the community of Mulamba, to myself, and to all my family.”

 

– Healing in Harmony artist in Mulamba

Watch below for an interview with a recent graduate of Healing in Harmony in Mulamba, DRC.

 


Thank you to our implementing partners at Panzi Hospital and Foundations and to the Fund for Innovation and Transformation (FIT) for their generous support in making this project possible.

Stay tuned for new music from Healing in Harmony artists in Mulamba, coming soon!

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