For our third Personal Safety and Self Defense Camp, we headed to Elohiem Home in Bombo where we planned to train our first group of adolescent girls in emotional and physical self defense. However, upon our arrival , we found out that the home had 24 male teenagers. Since the girls and boys live together, we realized that it was important to include them in our discussion otherwise the impact of the camp could prove to be futile.

The camp started off with a fun and unique session of yoga mixed with Ugandan traditional dances such as Laraka and Maganda, followed by  a short break to catch our breath and refresh.

A number of boys were then invited to join our emotional self defense circle.

Our discussion ended up being about GBV when, during a discussion on the topic of romantic relationships between men and women, majority of our attendees agreed that a man beating a woman was okay to teach her a lesson but under the same circumstances, a woman beating a man was wrong.

It was shocking to see gender based violence normalized for even young people. Our discussion then became about deconstructing the ways in which the framework for romantic relationships is set up in a way that encourages GBV and the problematic perceptions of relationships, masculinity and femininity. It was very enlightening for us and for the boys and girls who attended.

This particular talk really reinforced the need for us to find a sustainable plan to enable us to continue doing these camps even after the 16 Days Campaign. Toxic perceptions of relationships between the sexes are so pervasive; there’s still so much unlearning to do.

A huge thank you to the boys and girls at Eloheim for being so open and honest during our discussion, and to the US Embassy for making this possible.

But have you ever seen a more adorable hug?

But have you ever seen a more adorable hug?