Christopher’s transformation: A MenCare story from Sri Lanka

World Vision Lanka’s Nuwara Eliya Area Development Program (ADP) has been carrying out MenCare programming since January 2015, working with men and their families in the Sri Lankan plantation community to promote gender equality and family wellbeing. As part of the fathers’ group education, young fathers aged 25-40 participate in 11 group education sessions, and their whole families join together in retreats and a graduation ceremony at the program’s conclusion.

The program in Sri Lanka has been extremely successful in changing norms around gender and violence. Of the young fathers who completed the MenCare fatherhood training sessions in the Nuwara Eliya ADP:

  • 76% have reduced their alcohol consumption;
  • 72% strongly agree with the importance of planning for their children’s futures;
  • 72% spend time to support their children’s education;
  • 72% prepare monthly budgets jointly with their partners; and
  • 51% support their partners in household activities.

Christopher is one father who learned the importance of being involved after participating in MenCare:

Christopher and his family at the Nuwara Eliya ADP.Christopher is a 30-year-old father who works for daily wages in Sri Lanka’s plantation sector. His wife, Vijayakala, is employed on the same estate. They both work hard to earn a living. But, Christopher used to spend his wages on alcohol, which was a contentious issue in their family. On many occasions, Christopher and Vijayakala did not have enough money to meet their basic needs. Vijayakala was often worried about the future and explained the consequences of alcohol to Christopher many times.

Since Christopher is a community leader, he was given the responsibility of organizing young fathers to participate in MenCare fatherhood classes. Once the classes started, Christopher also began to participate. He actively engaged throughout the program with interest, realizing that he too had the ability to change his behavior to benefit himself, his children, and his wife. He was able to connect on a personal level with each of the 11 sessions, reflecting on his past actions and committing to more equitable ones in the future.

After completing the MenCare program, Christopher was recognized during the MenCare graduation ceremony in front of all of the guests. He was proud of his commitment to become a more involved and responsible partner and parent at home.

“The MenCare program changed my overall perspective about marriage and the value of having a family with lovely children. Now we do not continue those arguments; we listen to each other to solve the issues.”

“My wife and I used to argue a lot about very minor issues; we didn’t ever listen to each other or respect each others’ opinions. The MenCare program changed my overall perspective about marriage and the value of having a family with lovely children. Now we do not continue those arguments; we listen to each other to solve the issues,” Christopher said after the ceremony.

“I used to get up late in the morning, but now I get up early in the morning when my wife gets up, and I help her in the kitchen. I don’t beat my children now, as I used to, when they demanded toys or other things. Now, my daughter is much closer to me,” Christopher added.

“I used to earn Rs. 7,500 per month [approximately US $69]; I gave Rs. 5,000 to my wife and kept Rs. 2,500 to consume alcohol and smoke during the month. I totally stopped smoking. I told my wife that the next month I would work for Rs. 10,000, and if she also worked for Rs. 10,000, then we would earn Rs. 20,000 together. And so we did. We sat together and decided to budget our expenses for the following month. Our budget [for expenses] for the month was Rs. 12,500, and we had a balance of Rs. 7,500 left over. I paid off all of my debts and bought a gas stove for my wife out of those savings. It was amazing. I could not have imagined how the MenCare program would change me,” he concluded.