We hear about ‘the power of love’ all the time – in romantic movies and in the lyrics of aching love-songs. In our work with the world’s poorest people, we are lucky enough to see the empowering nature of love in some of the most challenging circumstances. We see how love, in all its forms, can inspire us to do better, and how it can lift us up in times of crisis.
Rebecca and Joseph's relationship has withstood more than one lifetime's worth of heartache.
Rebecca has given birth to ten children in her lifetime. But six of those children died from malnutrition during Liberia’s civil war. For any couple to lose one child is devastating. But losing six children is unimaginable.
When the war ended Rebecca and Jeremiah travelled to the remote region of Rivercess and have lived there together with their youngest children for the last eight years.
Their life is still very difficult. Their young daughter Marconie is extremely ill and they are very worried about her.
But they still have each-other. The support they are now receiving from Concern is helping to make their life that little bit easier. They own a small farm and have been able to benefit from the village water pump. Rebecca is also a member of the Mother and Baby group run by Concern, which offers advice on nutrition and hygiene to prevent illness.
All relationships take hard work and commitment, and they all have obstacles to overcome. Gender inequalities within a relationship are one of the biggest and most common obstacles the world over.
We encounter these inequalities frequently in our work. Issues like women carrying the heavier burden of work, having less decision-making power and being subjected to violence in their homes – these all have a negative impact, not just on the women and girls who are directly affected, but also on their families and wider communities. So we aim to address these issues head-on in our programming.
Mohamed and Kadiatu are a married couple from Sierra Leone. Their relationship was rife with inequalities. Kadiatu did not feel respected or supported by her husband, carried a heavier burden of work and did not have a fair say in decision-making for the family.
But all of that changed when they took part in a series of workshops with Concern that are aimed at engaging men to empower women. The sessions offer a rare opportunity for both men and women to contemplate a different reality in terms of gender. One where roles are not fixed and are not assigned to ‘only men’ or ‘only women’.