Chinyere J. Onodugo is a core volunteer of Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia. As a student of electronics engineering at the Stella Maris polytechnic, Chinyere still finds time for peace activism, writing, dance and volunteerism. The extract below is her contribution to the column on Peace Recipe.
Few years back, I wrote an article as a beginner peace messenger on my ideas of peace, and my expected achievements. Since then I have learnt a lot from the major experiences and challenges I encounter during my sojourn as a Peace Messenger. Preaching peace has been a very exciting work for me.
Though we have been enjoying peace for a decade and more, but there are still a lot of people who haven’t tasted peace in their entire life.
Everyone might think peace is only in the absence of war, but it is way more than that. Peace is the state of total tranquility, calmness and freedom from all form of disturbance or depression. As young people, we need to eradicate violence because it is one major factor that impedes the existence of peace within our country.
Speaking to violence on a gender sensitive perspective, there are a lot of Liberian women who know nothing about peace though most labeled Liberia has a peaceful nation. How can we have a peaceful nation when many are still not enjoying the peace we possess? That’s why many women have been marginalized in work places and homes. Women go through a lot of struggle, and this remains because many still live with a preconceive notion of “certain position are only for men”.
Most people use this thought as a backing to keep women out of private and public sectors because they think women are only made for child bearing and kitchen works. This is very disheartening, both men and women go to the same schools, get the same qualification, so they should be given what they deserve. This alone is enough to lead to mental violence that might hamper physical peaceful coexistence.
There are also semi-educated women who are being domestically violated. Personally I do know a lady residing within my community who does small skill business to take care of her family since her husband cannot afford family responsibilities. Each time I pass by, I always see her in tears. Being a Peace
Messenger I decided to encounter what the problem was. To my utmost surprise, she said her husband always beat on her. I tried getting her husband side of the story but he refuses to talk to me and even insulted me. I later made it my duty to always pass by and talk to them.
Based on further mediation from me and other community members, the situation has improved with this family.
Violence against women is a crime, but awareness of women’s right is limited, so helpless women allow their men to maltreat them.
In other to curtail these acts we all have to be in one solidarity and see peace as a need rather than a want. We should all be watchmen in our various communities and try to kick out or report violence against women. This is why we at Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP) introduced a mentorship program for adolescent girls. We highly believe that if we start educating girls from the childhood, they will learn the necessary morals about life and would alleviate sufferings our women face today.
Without togetherness, love for our country, spirit of volunteerism and a free mind towards others, we will never enjoy the peace we have.
Until next week when we bring you another story from our volunteers, it’s Peace first, peace above all else, May peace prevail in Liberia and the world at large!