Focusing on the positive: Fathers and families come together in Sri Lanka

Group photo of participants in the Nuwara Eliya ADP's June 2016 MenCare family retreat.

World Vision Lanka’s Nuwara Eliya Area Development Program (ADP) in Sri Lanka conducted a two-day MenCare family retreat in June 2016. Men who had completed six group sessions (based on MenCare’s Program P) were given the opportunity to attend the retreat, joined by their partners and children. In total, 50 adults and 68 children participated.

During the retreat, men and women participated in several group workshops, including one on family life and communication, in which couples held hands and each person shared five things they appreciated about their partner. Holding hands in public is very rare in Sri Lanka’s plantation sector; however, this exercise helped participants to focus on the positive aspects of their relationships and think about ways to amplify them moving forward.

For many participants, an exciting moment during the retreat was the celebration of Father’s Day, a holiday not commonly observed in Sri Lanka. Children created cards to give to their fathers as a surprise. Men were thrilled to see their children’s artwork, and all of the participants were grateful to have this opportunity to focus on their families.

During the retreat, both men and women had an opportunity to share feedback about their experiences.

“We learned what a real family is like and what our responsibilities are as fathers,” said a father who participated in the program.

“We married without any idea of our future, and nobody taught us about what family life is like. After getting married, we had disagreements and arguments; we did not experience a happy family life and we suffered a lot,” said a mother who participated in the program. “During these two days, however, we have spent a happy time as a family.”