This is the first of a series of guests posts by Alvin Winford. Alvin is originally from Liberia and will be spending the next 4 months at Next Door as a Global Fellow. Originally from Liberia, Alvin has over 9 years of experience working to mitigate gender-based violence in local communities and has most recently spearheaded a project that has helped increase the capacity of local police forces to respond to such violence. Alvin will be sharing his experiences through weekly blog posts so be sure to check back regularly to read more about his journey!
I started my fellowship at the Next Door in mid-August this year and since then, I must confess that I have been overwhelmed with the high degree of professionalism and passion that this organization attaches to serving minorities especially women and children. One could be tempted to ask, but what is the big deal, after all that is their work. But when you are given the opportunity to truly experience Next Door, you would obviously come to grip that only a noble professional group of people with zest can go beyond the call of duty in servicing victims of domestic violence. How I wish that there would be many Next Doors around the world, especially in Liberia, that would reach out to the many women who are victims of the power imbalance, but are hapless in finding answers to their miserable circumstances not created by themselves, but by heartless individuals, harmful cultural practices and unresponsive system. Their only hope lies in yearning that one day somehow things would change.
Here in San Jose, it is the direct opposite. Victims of domestic violence can just move Next Door in joining the welcoming team to find answers in restoring their hope. The programs are tailored ranging from prevention services to direct response. They have a human face, demonstrating earnestly that victims were not at fault for being abused and that they should not be left to face the agony alone. Being client centered as they prefer it, victims are made to make the final decision as to how they want to cope with situations.
In getting a better understanding of how Next Door has stood up to the challenge with a lot on their plates, I continue to have some conversations with Kathleen, the award winning Patty, Vanessa, Melina, Lucero, Aparna and my supervisor Brenda on different programmatic and management issues. One thing that comes out clearly is passion. With this excitement, they have been able to turn challenges into opportunities in restoring the lost hope. It has not been easy though, especially so when there will always be agents against positive change.
So far, I have attended the Domestic Violence Meeting & Fatality Review Meeting with Advocate Award Winning Patty. From these meetings, I am gaining insight on the need to build a strong network among different players in championing the cause of domestic violence victims. Also, I had some discussion at the Family Violence Center where I was introduced to Jason the Police Sergeant by Melina. By the way, Jason is making sure that I go on the walk along with the police this weekend in accessing how they conduct their exercises in dealing with domestic violence.
Another activity that I have benefited from is the Annual Domestic Violence Conference in Sacramento, called Connecting the Dot. It is my hope that the missing dot would be connected in reaching out to all in need after an elaborate conference. I have completed the 40 Hour Domestic Violence Training. This training is compulsory for all incoming staff and volunteers to enable you work with DV victims. Besides, I have learned a lot from this training that would enhance my work in Liberia as I deal with Gender Based Violence. Thanks to Next Door!
Here at Next Door, every one is making my stay a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, one of those who made it some fantastic, Jackie, the Crisis Intervention Advocate intern who has been here for about a year, will be leaving soon. She was always there to cheer me up, give me directions and uplift me professionally. I can only wish her well in her future endeavors.
Everyday at Next Door, I am learning something new that will serve as an impetus for my work. So, I do anticipate to be reenergized by the end of my professional sojourn through the experiences I would be gaining. For now, I can safely say that the lost hope is being restored at Next Door.