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UN International Day of Families 2012

Day of Families Observed in Freetown

Freetown, Sierra Leone - UPF-Sierra Leone organized an observance of the International Day of Families in Freetown on May 15 with the theme: “Balancing Private and Public Responsibilities within the Family.” The theme drew the attention of participants from all walks of life.

The National President of the Peace Council, Madam Alice Marian Kamara, welcomed participants and introduced the significance of the day. Madam Kamara said, “As we know, family decline and breakdown lead to social and national decline. UPF’s support for marriage and family and its World Peace Blessing are central pillars.” She urged Ambassadors for Peace to take this "golden opportunity to develop and strengthen the family values, which are the backbone of peaceful nation."

Mr. Saeed Ur Rahman, the Amir and Missionary of the Ahmadiyya Mission in Sierra Leone, opened his speech with a quote from chapter 4:1 of the Qur'an: “O ye people! Fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul and created thee from its mate, and from them twain spread many men and women; and fear Allah, in whose name you appeal to one another, and fear Him particularly respecting ties of kinship. Verily, Allah watches over you.”

He added his comments: “Man is a social animal and no man is an island, entirely of itself. Unlike lower animals, humans have fewer instincts and their babies are helpless compared to the young of other animals. Humans have to be taught how to do almost everything; our behavior is learned, not inherited. The family, the education system, peer group, workplace, mass media and religion are the informal means for shaping human behavior; and that, family unit is the starting point firmly established upon marriage.”

He stressed the need for marriage as a social institution which perfects the human personality. It, therefore, safeguards one against immorality. He urged the audience to respect the family as a noble and sacred institution where love is practiced in daily basis.

Rev. Moses Khanu, the Human Rights Commissioner of Sierra Leone, gave a presentation on the theme: “Balancing Private and Public Responsibilities within the Family.” He elaborated on thsi theme quoting from the Bible: “If a man desires a good work, a bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to much wine, no striker, not a brawler, not covetous. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; for if a man know not how to rule his own house how shall he take care of the church of God?” (1Tim. 3:1-5)

The above quotation refers to those who desire the office of a bishop, an overseer or elder of the church of God. It may also have a bearing on the theme: “Balancing private and public responsibilities within the family” give insights about how to balance public and private responsibilities within the family.

Having given his introduction, he briefly looked at two aspects of the theme:

  • Public responsibilities could refer to our public engagements, such as employment, business endeavors, and duties one has to perform.
  • Private responsibilities could refer to those things done by individuals in relation to their family and social life. This could also include balancing inerest in sports with helping the family.

He emphasized the family as a God’s chosen way for the continuation of human life through procreation. Regrettably, the family is under threat of disintegration. The family is where children should first receive their love. He told the audience that today there is no time to perform those responsibilities that will make a good family, pointing out that parents neglect their children as children spend more time with people other than their parents. As a result of this, the family altar has broken down and is replaced with television, video games, and other entertainment. Society today, as the discipline of children and the inculcating of cultural and Christians values and morals are left in the hands of destiny.

Rev. Khanu also commented on the distinct roles and responsibilities of the husband and wife. The husband is the head of the family. He is the manager of the home. He should first manage himself, that is, his aggressive, competitive nature, erratic emotions, manliness, sexuality, and anger. The husband must handle his wife's expressive nature, her talkativeness, tendency to waste time, domineering nature, concerns for security, creativity, inquisitiveness, and sexuality. The wife must submit to her husband, reverence him and manage her home well. She must practice hospitality. She should beautify and adorn herself and satisfy her husband sexually. Both must learn to adjust sexually. Both husband and wife must compete for each other’s love.

The next presenter was Mrs. Maude Peacock, Chairperson for the Women’s Forum of Sierra Leone and Senior Lecturer at the University of Sierra Leone. She spoke on the same theme: “Balancing Private and Public Responsibilities within the Family.” In her presentation, she told the participants that private and public life have two aspects which she outlined as follows:

  • Private life involves family, hobbies, friendship, volunteerism, budgeting, etc.
  • Public life includes teaching, lecturing, preaching, engineering, accounting, computing, curing, etc.

She explained her view that private life and public life are based on skills, and therefore balancing the relationship between them, like all skills-related activities, takes a deliberate effort. She said that it merely leads to confusion putting the individual in a psychological plight, example, restlessness, fear, stress, and even trauma. This can result in an unproductive life making the individual not as Ambassador for Peace. She also said if responsibilities are well-balanced, it naturally leads to a productive life. She urged participants to look at the values that can be found in both private and public responsibilities, which involve three processes:

  • Choosing - one has the right to choose freely as it depends on his/her choice, she/he has the right from among alternatives, and after thoughtful considerations of the consequences.
  • Prizing individual has to look at how to cherish and being happy with the choice making and willing to affirm the choice publicly
  • Acting also deals with doing something with the choice and repeatedly it becomes some pattern of life.

She pointed out that values are the central motivators of behavior. Balancing the relationship between private and public life should be based on values. And the foundation for value processing is from the family –child rearing practice. She also spoke about the use of emotional intelligence, which is the ability to master and understand one’s emotions as well as those of others in a way that can instill confidence. She made the following points:

  • Start with the self; be an ‘inside-out’ individual concerned with generating positive energy.
  • Listen twice as much as you speak.
  • Be a team player.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Hustle while you wait.
  • Participate actively.
  • Stick to agreed procedures.
  • Believe in multi-stakeholder cooperation.
  • Concentrate all abilities and efforts on all the phases of private and public life of your choice.
  • Keep a sense of humor.
  • Succeed at home first.
  • Seek and merit divine help.

Mrs. Peacock concluded by urging participants to cultivate better relationships and balance between private and public responsibilities within the family. She spoke of using life skills such as critical thinking, choosing between alternatives, decision making, assertiveness, self-awareness, communication, self-esteem, negotiation.

The moderator of the event, the National Secretary General of UPF-Sierra Leone, said that private and public responsibilities must be balanced in respect to the family's needs and the common good, because public and private life overlap with each other. He further asked participants to use this opportunity to address the challenges they face in balancing those responsibilities. He asked participants to identify a couple or couples who have experienced good marriage and family life for 25 years, manifesting high family standard.

The seminar concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.

Submitted by John D.S. Samura, National Secretary General
To read more about UPF observances of the International Day of Families 2012, click here.

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