Mission of Healing 2021: May's Theme is Bullying and Abuse
A Brief Introduction
If you have been following the story of the Mission of Healing 2021 with the northern micro-region churches of the Salvadoran Lutheran Church, you know that this year we went virtual! Each month we are producing video and printed education materials related to a particular theme. You can dive right into the month of May, or if you would like a little background first, you might like to explore these stories.
Opening up Safe Spaces for Difficult Conversations
More than 20 years ago, during my first visit in El Salvador, a Salvadoran Lutheran pastor in a rural community asked my friend and me if we had any resources which address domestic and sexual violence - resources which she could use with the women in her community to help them and to teach them. We did not have resources with us.
Over the years, we have listened as women have spoken with us, and we have been horrified by things we have seen and heard while doing research in the field. Listen and learning and being present with victims has value. We have coordinated with local women's groups in El Salvador, with local psychologists and trauma counselors, and with caring medical teams before, during and after annual Mission of Healing events to try to connect those who are vulnerable or suffering with ongoing programs and resources. We work throughout the year with the Salvadoran Lutheran Church in support of good quality education about body autonomy, children's rights, women's rights and sex.
During the pandemic, pastors and leaders in El Salvador worry about and are reporting increased incidents of domestic violence, sexual abuse and bullying within the confines of small homes and tightly packed neighborhoods. The virtual Mission of Healing team decided to try to create resources which could be used to talk about these difficult topics.
The goal for the month of May is to create safe spaces where small groups can discuss these challenging topics, and to identify the trusted helpers who are accessible to victims of abuse.
We decided to begin with a video which is accessible to children and adults, no matter what language they speak.
The first video is entitled, Adolorido, and really, just watch it. We developed age-appropriate discussion questions for use with different groups that might view the video together.
We found videos about body safety (prevention and reporting of sexual abuse) which were appropriate for little children, elementary school children, and teens. This video is the one we included for the youngest group, entitled Súper Reglas (Super Rules), and is pretty understandable even if you do not speak Spanish.
You can find the entire collection of Mission of Healing 2021 videos on the Spanish Playlist and English Playlist of my YouTube channel. We focus most of our energy in Spanish resource development, so you will find more things in that list.
We included a card in each family resource pack with the emergency contact information for anyone who is danger and needs to flee from or report abuse.
We adapted a document produced by Plan Internacional and Cartoon Network entitled "Enough of Bullying, Don't Stay Quiet." This little workbook is super user-friendly for a variety of ages, and can even be used with adults. For adults, we recommended watching a video with very helpful strategies for addressing bullying in multiple settings, particularly in the workplace.
We decided to use the Hand Prayer card once again in May. This is the same prayer which is included in the January resources (in English).
Our hope is that while we were not able to provide educational resources to help suffering women when we were asked to do so more than 20 years ago, we are able to be part of a faithful and community-based effort to make the church a safe space to talk about real and difficult issues. Our hope is that children, youth and adults who are unsafe or frightened can find a trusted helper and a network of support and care. Our hope is that education and straight talk will help vulnerable ones to be safer and help communities to stop being quiet and pretending that abuse is "ok" or "normal" or "part of our culture".