Women’s Retreat: Three Days of Sharing, Learning, and Accompaniment in Mampujan

Women’s Retreat: Three Days of Sharing, Learning, and Accompaniment in Mampuján

by Lweendo Hachilenge, Seeder, Accompaniment Worker of Mampuján

posted on July 20, 2016.

On the 15th to 17 of June 2016, women from the communities of Mampuján, Maria La Baja, San Pablo, and Las Brisas gathered for a workshop in Mampuján. The retreat was a part of Sembrandopaz’s initiatives for the development of psycho-social health. During the event, the women were asked to share stories about traumas they had experienced that they have not yet worked through. By sharing, they are able to begin the process of healing. The retreat was a great moment of sharing experiences and skills. As a community accompaniment worker, I am not just here to accompany these women in their processes of healing from the armed conflict, but also to learn and share about our own cultural norms and values.

I was overwhelmed with love and gratitude as I listened to these women share the life experiences that have been kept in their hearts for such a long time.

Women sharing experiences.
Women sharing experiences.
In this activity women shared appreciation for each other, symbolized by the passing of a string.
In this activity women shared appreciation for each other, symbolized by the passing of a string.

PLANTING A SEED

The women did not just attend the workshop to share experiences, but also to learn other life- sustaining skills, like making tapestries. These tapestries tell the stories of their trauma and transform them into something tangible, bold, and beautiful. This process helps them to create a space for emotional release and take the weight off their chests as they sew and share stories. It is also a time of getting to know each other more intimately.
“This is the best workshop I have attended,” said one of the women from San Pablo. She continued to say that she learned a lot from the workshop and is excited to go and share her experiences with other people in her community. She smiled as she uttered these words, and I could see the relief on her face as she was talking. This process is aptly named PLANTING A SEED because these women will spread the knowledge of making tapestries to others in their communities. The goal is to create “popular therapists” who are able to support other women in their process of healing.

A woman learns how to cut material and make tapestries.
A woman learns how to cut material and make tapestries.
Women learning how to sketch their work on paper before sewing.
Women learning how to sketch their work on paper before sewing.

RECREATION TIME

It is very important that these women also learn how to take care of themselves physically, emotionally, and psychologically. In this workshop, they were taught strategies for self-care that they can take back to their home communities. For example, having a massage or spending time at the beach are activities that help them to relieve stress.

Women enjoying time at the beach and giving each other massages.
Women enjoying time at the beach and giving each other massages.

ACCOMPANIMENT AS AN OUTSIDER

Attending this workshop was a great way of learning and sharing as a community accompaniment worker, and I am glad that I had a chance to a learn about a few of the experiences these women have gone through. I am glad the women also had a chance to interact with me as a woman from a different culture and background. It was a great moment of getting to know each other. I believe these are incredible women who will also be talented teachers to others in their communities, as they continue to learn from these healing processes with Sembrandopaz and other partner organizations. Hope is not yet lost. Peace comes from above, and love comes thorough sharing and accepting the past.

Lani and Lweendo
Lani and Lweendo