Towards a Future Free from Violence project

Samuel leaves behind his violent past

Samuel, 32 years old, and his wife Virna, 26, live in this village with their three children: two girls, Lidia, 10, and Berta, 6, and one boy, Gerson, 12. In years past, Samuel used to fight others in his village and was also physically violent towards his family.

As he sat outside his simple brick home, Samuel shared his life experience. "When I was young, I tried to fight with my parents, I did not listen to my siblings, and I went wherever I wanted to go.

 I was involved in bad habits like drinking alcohol, fighting and assaulting people. What I have done in my past is extremely bad," he said.

"My husband was hard to understand and did not want to receive people's opinion," shared Virna as she sat by the door. "We faced hard times as we argued with each other, and almost every day ended up with violence against me, and him abandoning me and the kids alone at home."

Through World Vision's Towards a Future Free from Violence project, Samuel was given the opportunity to reflect on the attitudes and behaviours throughout his life, and he participated in Celebrating Families activities were learned about creating a safe and loving environment for his family.

As time passed, Samuel felt something unique, pushing him to keep listening to the positive messages shared in the sessions about child protection and preventing gender-based violence. Samuel felt broken thinking about his attitude towards his family and the people in his community. The sessions brought back memories of what he had done. "I felt so guilty at that moment, and my heart cried so loud until I couldn't hold it anymore and screamed it out in front of the participants," said Samuel with tears in his eyes. 

"From now on, I will listen to my family and will not do negative things in my life," he said.

Virna is a slim yet strong woman, who believed that her husband could change his attitude. "I never stopped supporting him because I knew one day he would change. This is because I am his wife, and I know him very well. As time moved on, World Vision's presence brought joy and peace to my family. When he attended World Vision's program, he changed his life extremely and understood what is better for his life and his little family," she said.

Samuel's transformation means that his family now lives in peace and harmony. But he also wanted to prove to his community that he is a good example, especially for young people.

Slowly Samuel gained the trust of the community. Now Samuel is the president of the Community Policing Council in his village. He also facilitates training on positive parenting, child protection, gender-equitable relationships, and disability inclusion through World Vision's project.

World Vision's project coordinator, Beatriz Sarmento, said, "Back in 2016, it was so hard to approach the community, including Samuel. However, World Vision never gave up on him. We continue to support and enable young people and families who have experienced violence to join World Vision's activities, and hopefully become a role model for their community, like Samuel," she said.

The Australian Government supports the 'Towards a Future Free From Violence' project through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).