Those Who Bring the Light

Those Who Bring the Light

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It all started with one man who beat his wife. Week after week, he hit her, yelled at her and humiliated her. But nothing changed. He didn’t feel better; he felt worse.

He wanted to change. But he was nervous. What would his friends think? If he treated his wife like an equal, what would that say about his masculinity, his role in the household and his status in his community?

Still, his behavior gnawed at him. Why would he treat someone he loved that way? What would their children grow up to think about him? Would his children repeat the cycle of abuse?

He had made up his mind. He would stop the abuse. The change in his family was evident. He started to treat his wife like an equal partner in the marriage, a role she took on with gusto. Their relationship improved. His relationship with his children improved. With his wife contributing equally to generating an income, and him helping her carry out her tasks, their financial situation improved, too.

He was so happy that he knew he’d stumbled onto something that would help his whole community, possibly his whole country. He told his friend what happened. His friend decided he would change, too. Together, they told another friend. They named themselves Abatangamuco, which in the local language means “those who bring the light where there is darkness” or “light givers.” A movement was born.

Each Abatangamuco meeting starts with a couple sharing a very touching personal story about extraordinary, positive behavior change that has in some way led to women’s empowerment within their household – and often within their community. Those attending the meetings may share their own stories or just listen and ask questions. No one is ever forced to testify. Yet, it happens, time after time, creating new generations of Abatangamuco in their community and in neighboring ones, who spread the message of equality and change.

Today, Abatangamuco is a cross-cutting initiative that involves men in ending deep-rooted gender discrimination in their culture. Abatangamuco also advises CARE and our partners on successful strategies for engaging men in the fight for gender equality.

Keep learning:

Sylvestre Hatungimana, 46, and his wife of 15 years, Rosette Minani, 36. Sylvestre is the founder of Abatangamuco, a CARE-supported group that engages men in the fight for gender equality.