The topic of discrimination against minority groups can be a heated topic here in Malawi, and addressing that discrimination can be a long process. As part of our ongoing Umunthu: Health Worker project, our staff is returning to the communities to follow-up on the lasting effects of the three-day workshops.
"I knew about the minority communities, the gays, lesbians, sex workers; I was well aware that they were a part of our communities, but I never once supported their work or their lifestyle. They were not people to me, they were not to be treated as such for being the way they are or choosing that line of work," one healthworker in Phalombe said. "I would purposely seat them at the end of the line or separately when they came in for treatment or health services at my workplace because I felt that they were not important enough to be treated first or be prioritised."
However, attending the three-day Umunthu workshop brought about a new perspective.
"Then I attended the first Umunthu workshop here and I came to realise that my mindset and attitude toward these communities was wrong, it was dehumanising which is wrong. The workshop enlightened me on the fact these all these people were indeed people just like myself, they were also a creation of God just as myself," the healthworker said. "I was reminded that as a healthworker, it is my duty to serve everyone regardless of their work, sex orientation and other things that I may have thought separated them from me."
This kind of change in attitude and perception leaves hope for continued success as more workshops happen.