Summer 2023 newsletter
Kathy Bond and Flávio Rocha, Brazil
Dear family and friends,
Maya turned 18 in late May and departed for Washington, D.C., where she will work for the summer and then begin studies in the School of International Service at American University. We sent her with our blessings and with hearts full of excitement, pride and sadness.
Upon arrival, she was welcomed into the kind Assisi Community, where so many Maryknollers and friends have passed through over the years.
From Flavio: This March I facilitated my first workshop on “Theater of the Oppressed and Masculinities” at AFYA Holistic Center, the NGO founded by the Maryknoll Sisters here in João Pessoa, Brazil.
Brazil is a dangerous place for women. In 2022 there were 1,400 femicides, which are defined as intentional killings with a gender-related motivation. In my theater workshops, domestic violence comes up frequently as we talk about oppression in the lives of many participants. So why do so many men commit violence against women? The reasons are complex, but I believe that it is necessary to also work with men to end the roots of violence.
In this new workshop, five courageous men joined me in games and exercises from the Theater of the Oppressed to reflect on what it means to be a man in Brazilian society. We enjoyed our time in a day filled with laughter, but we also had serious conversations about traumas that we carry from our childhoods, school, soccer games and relationships with our dads or other men.
In the end we concluded that we all felt oppressed by a model of masculinity imposed on us by society. This model demands from us to be stronger and more successful by suppressing our feelings. It is a model, in our opinion, that encourages men to view women as inferior and that results in unhealthy relationships, tensions and increased gender and intimate violence. We talked about how important it is to learn as young boys that it is OK to show feelings and that this does not mean that one is weak, but that vulnerability is part of life.
I was very happy with the participants’ evaluations. They acknowledged the importance of having a space were there were only men and how they felt supported by participants telling their stories through the presentation of short skits. I look forward to the possibilities of further pursuing this work with adolescent boys in the public school system.
From Kathy: This December I will complete 30 years as a Maryknoll lay missioner. One of the threads through almost all of my ministries has been promoting health and empowerment with and for women. Last month I was honored to be invited by my long-term colleague Terlucia to give a day-long workshop at AFYA Holistic Health Center on “Life Purpose and Self-Care” to 16 Afro-Brazilian activists.
The day brought back wonderful memories of the leadership training work that Terlucia and I had shared together with Maryknoll Sister Efu Nyaki and partner Vera Lopes for several months in 2000.
I am incredibly grateful for the blessings of being with Maryknoll, especially for the opportunities to be involved in diverse and fulfilling ministries. Recently I started facilitating anti-stress workshops for adolescent girls in the public school system.
AFYA Holistic Health Center was invited to initiate this work by clients who are teachers in the schools. Anxiety and violence, due in part to the isolation during the pandemic, have peaked in many schools here, resulting in increased self-harm and destruction of school property. We are sharing simple techniques and tools to manage emotions, including anxiety and anger, in a more healthy ways.
As always, we hold you and your families in our prayers and ask that you keep us in yours.
Thank you for your generous financial support that helps sustain us here!
Flávio José Rocha and Kathy Bond
P.S. Please check out the article Creating a sustaining community from the Spring 2023 issue of Maryknoll magazine, which features the team at our AFYA Holistic Health Center in João Pessoa, where we conduct most of our ministries.
Please consider joining our circle of COMPANIONS IN MISSION. Companions in Mission are generous donors, like you, who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information visit Become a Companion in Mission. Thank you so much for your generosity!