The island nation of Grenada is blessed with great natural beauty, people as lovely as their landscape, and no armed conflict. Inter-personal violence, however, is endemic on this tropical island, including domestic violence, corporal punishment in the schools, street violence, and occasional police violence. Everyone knows of the problems, but the patterns continue largely unabated, resulting in a great deal of suffering, family cycles of harm, and generations of single mothers struggling to maintain families in a challenging economy. More women than men attend our conflict resolution workshops, more women than men achieve educationally and vocationally, and more women than men are willing to talk about what is wrong. Some men, however, are fully responsible and engaged, including men in the police department and throughout the bureaucracies and institutions.
For all these reasons, our workshops are crowded and the requests for training grow each year. This year we offered our first Training of Trainers to 30 participants who have been with us before. Following that, we offered another basic workshop, this time assisted by our TOT group who led exercises and reviewed designs and strategies. Hopefully the TOT group members will stay connected to each other during the year, and the strongest among them will start leading their own workshops.
Last year we did a separate workshop for the Royal Grenadian Police Force and this year they were back again in the TOT and the basic workshop, as were many members of GNOW, the Grenadian National Organization of Women. We also draw many members of government ministries, school personnel, St George’s University (our sponsor) staff, community activists, etc. We explore the roots of the violence in family socialization patterns that allow young men a great deal of personal freedom and laxity while encouraging young women in assuming responsibility. We also think about education, economics, and commerce that may provide more opportunities for women, thus marginalizing men, especially those without advanced education. Interestingly, although Grenada is a very Christian country in terms of church attendance and prayers in public life, there is very little formal marriage, which may perpetuate family dynamics that create some of these difficulties. However, as an outsider, I know very little and am cautious about any generalizations or simplistic explanations of complex cultural dynamics. I can report that our participants believe that similar family and gender issues are common in other Caribbean countries.
Our group members are trying their best to address all of these forms of violence, and hopefully are planting new ideas and seeds of peace in their families, workplaces, church groups, police stations, and associations. I will be online with them during the year, helping as needed and encouraging their efforts. We owe a debt of gratitude to St George’s University and the Psychological Services Center of SGU who organize and support our annual workshops and make our participation possible. It is much to SGU’s credit that it sponsors these workshops, which benefit not only its own employees, but also many beyond the university from civil society and government units in Grenada.
With an island population of only 100,000, we can imagine that our efforts might matter and make a small contribution to harmony and well-being in Grenada. We are grateful for this partnership and our modest role.