Mission to end violence stretching from Syracuse to Africa

Local News

GHANA, AFRICA (WSYR-TV) — October is domestic violence awareness month, and the year-long work by Vera House to end abuse in Syracuse is now reaching as far as Ghana, Africa.

It all started two years ago when Derick Botsyoe in Accra, Ghana reached out to Vera House.

Derick’s community was taking part in the global White Ribbon Campaign when he saw a Syracuse homegrown initiative called the 12 Men Model.

Since then, he and George Kilpatrick, co-director of prevention education for Vera House, have been working to connect the two communities. “We encourage men in particular to own the ways that they have contributed to a culture of violence and abuse,” said Kilpatrick.

Thanks to the era of Zoom, they finally kicked it off, recently completing the 12 Men Model while simultaneously creating a cultural exchange.

“The more you get to know someone, the more you realize a lot of the issues are the same, and that’s the biggest takeaway.”

George Kilpatrick

For Botsyoe and his team, it was very eye-opening.

“This has taught my team and myself a lot of ways of professionally and nicely intervening in many of the issues that we would have allowed to pass in the past,” he said.

Specifically, Botsyoe and his team learned some actions and ideals within their society were against women.

Now, they’re recognizing toxic masculinity and they’re stepping in.

“When the comment is not right when the comment is not directed properly, is not positioned properly, someone must call the person that has posted out,” said Botsyoe.

A lot of the work within the 12 Men Model focuses on unlearning some of the unhealthy ‘social norms’ that make men believe they have to be tough and strong, sometimes leading to violence.

“Toxic masculinity or masculinity that continues to demean and make it difficult for women and LGBTQ individuals is alive and well all across the globe,” said Kilpatrick. “In order for us to create a world free of violence and abuse, that we’ve got to unlearn some of those things to make sure that we have a society that’s equal and accessible for all.”

“When we are able to that, certainly, we will change the world,” said Botsyoe.

If you’re interested in starting a 12 Men Model conversation or group at your workplace, give Vera House a call at 315-425-0818.

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