Alcohol abuse and domestic violence
Fredrick is a 47-year-old man living with his family in Western area. Western area is one of the poorest areas in Selibe Phikwe. Fredrick is staying with Grace, his wife of 14 years. They are both HIV positive. They are staying with their 4 children in an inherited 2-bedroom house.
“I met the family for the first time in February this year. I had discussions and sought to find out how they are living. I found out that Fredrick was working as a construction worker and his wife was not working. He couldn’t work for more than 10 – 15 days a month. His deteriorating health and daily alcohol drinking made him too frail to even get out of bed. Fredrick will keep most of his meagre earnings for alcohol, leaving Grace with just around US$15 a month to buy food for the family. Illiterate and unskilled, Grace sometimes pawns household items (given as security for a loan) to meet the shortfall.
Fredrick was also abusive especially when he was drunk. He will come in the middle of the night and beat and insult his wife in front of the children. His wife felt helpless as she was also threatened not to report to anyone or would face death. My plan to this family was clear, to provide on-going supportive counselling on gender based violence and nutrition needs. I linked the family with other service providers like Social and Community Development welfare (S & CD) for material support and clinic for health related issues.
On April this year, I invited Fredrick for a local leaders training workshop organized by the project. He agreed to attend. The purpose of the training was to equip and sensitize participants on gender based violence, its cause and consequences. "I was surprised to see I was not the only one with alcohol and violence problems. It helped me tremendously to listen to the problems of the other men and find solutions to my own," Fredrick said after the workshop."But most importantly I learnt to include my wife in decision making, especially in money matters," he adds. Inspired by other participants in the workshop, the construction worker also encouraged his wife to join GROW group.
Today Fredrick's children are back to a healthy weight, thanks to the food basket that they get from Department of Social & Cultural Development. Grace has joined GROW savings group where she is able to make some savings and also discuss social issues with other women. Fredrick has long quit drinking and is able to work more days. "This is a better life," he smiles.”