Pastor Samuel Kpavouvou, our partner in Togo, is certified as a Master facilitator for adults and children through the Mercy Ships Mental Health Program, and also through the American Bible Society Trauma Healing Institute. He has provided training to church and community leaders in Togo and other West African nations.
What he sees as a result is that people are better able to understand and act on things they see in their community.
For example, there was a girl – just 14 years old – who was in a forced marriage to a man of 50 years, who already had two wives.
“Can you imagine?” Samuel says, “This man already has two wives, and now he wants to marry this young girl of 14. So in the area where we were, this is seen as normal. It is the custom there. But as we interacted with the leaders, we created awareness. In that area, even church members see early or forced marriage as normal. But after training, they see it’s not right.”
There are laws against this type of marriage, but people in the community were not aware. After training, the leaders acted and the girl was retrieved from the marriage. Now she is in a place where she will be safe.
Even though there is a law against early marriage, it can only be enforced if someone makes a report. But if no one reports it, the legal system can’t do anything. “That is why we are making people aware of the law,” says Samuel, “And we make them aware that they can make a report anonymously…because sometimes people are afraid to report such things.”
This year, Pastor Samuel and his team at Graceland Christian Network will train workers at ten orphanages in holistic care, child development, child abuse, common mental illnesses, grief and emotional trauma, basic hygienic care and first aid.