Nurturing Stronger Families: Reflections from the 21st World Congress of Family Enrichment

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Picture this: An adventure in Cebu, where the infectious cheer of the Filipinos becomes your daily anthem. Every time you walk down the corridor, you’re greeted with an enthusiastic, “Good day, maaaam! Good day, siiir!” It’s like getting a daily dose of sunshine in verbal form.

In a week filled with insights and shared experiences, the Programme for Family Development team recently had the privilege of participating in the 21st World Congress of Family Enrichment in Cebu, Philippines. The congress, which was anchored on the theme of Family Life and New Technologies, brought together a global gathering of 1300 delegates from 37countries to addressed crucial themes that resonate deeply with the core values of family and human connection. 

Here are some of the key takeaways that emerged from this enriching congress.

Understanding Temperament for Empathy

The first focus of our reflections revolves around the importance of understanding temperament for fostering empathy. We were reminded that the journey of helping others begins with a profound understanding of our own temperament and those of the people around us. True empathy, we learned, is rooted in self-awareness, and it forms the bedrock for building stronger families.

 

Navigating the AI Era

As we navigated the discussions surrounding the impact of Artificial Intelligence on our lives, an important realization emerged—the permanence of AI. Acknowledging that technological advancements are here to stay, we were challenged to identify and celebrate our unique human talents that technology can never replace. Preserving a human touch in every facet of our lives became the rallying call, emphasizing the essence of maintaining our humanity in the face of technological advancements.

Prioritizing Mental Health

Amidst the technological transformations, the congress prioritized a fundamental aspect of human well-being–mental health. Given that one in eight individuals face mental health challenges, the message was clear: without mental well-being, overall health cannot be achieved. The call to prioritize mental health echoed loudly, urging us to recognize its role in leading a balanced and fulfilling life.

Family as a School of Virtues

This theme that resonated throughout the congress emphasized the role of families as sanctuaries of love and acceptance. Creating homes where individuals feel loved and valued emerged as a crucial aspect of family enrichment. The family unit, we learned, serves as a school where virtues are not just taught but actively practiced, laying the foundation for a harmonious and virtuous society.

Home: The Hub of Growth

At the heart of family enrichment lies the home – a nurturing ground for understanding and forgiveness, which are essential ingredients for personal growth. It’s within the walls of our homes that we learn the art of compassion and resilience, nurturing the seeds of positive change and growth.

Love Flourishes in Permanence

Stability emerged as a recurring theme, highlighting its role as the bedrock for love to thrive. Creating a foundation of permanence was emphasized as a crucial factor in fostering a nurturing environment where love can flourish and endure. Couples were urged to learn each other’s love language: Words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, receiving gifts and physical touch.

Essence of Freedom and Safety

The congress brought out the fundamental importance of freedom and safety for individual growth and maturity. Providing a secure environment, we learned, allows individuals to explore their potential and develop resilience, paving the way for a flourishing life.

Parenting Wisdom

A set of practical insights for dealing with adolescents were  also shared – avoiding reactive questions, listening to understand, stepping out of comfort zones, reaching conclusions together, sharing the intensity of their experiences, encouraging gradual and constant dialogues, and respecting silences and privacy.

Harmony Starts with Connection, Not Correction

In the journey of understanding and growth, the final takeaway emphasized that harmony starts with connection, not correction. Before offering guidance or corrections, the importance of connecting on a human level was stressed. Building bridges of understanding, we learned, fosters a more receptive environment for positive change, allowing empathy to pave the way for improvement.

Now that we’re done with the reflections, let’s talk about the food – oh, the food! It’s like a gastronomic rollercoaster. You don’t just eat; you embark on a culinary journey. It’s a place where your taste buds high-five each other with every bite. You might start having conversations with your stomach, thanking it for being part of this flavour fiesta.

But wait, the real showstopper was the conference’s cultural night. It’s like the United Nations of entertainment. Different countries took center stage, not with diplomatic discussions, but with a fantastic display of music and dance. It was a cultural potluck, and everyone brought their A-game.

We found ourselves surrounded by rhythms we’ve never heard, and dance moves that made us question our own coordination. Suddenly, we were part of a global dance-off, and our two left feet were just happy to be invited to the party.

As the night unfolds, the realisation that we’ve travelled the world through beats and twirls. It’s like a crash course in geography, but way more entertaining. We left the cultural night with a playlist of tunes we can’t pronounce but will attempt to sing in the shower back home.

Cebu, with its infectious energy, delightful cuisines, and the cultural night extravaganzas, become memories etched in our travel diaries – places where ‘good days’ aren’t just greetings; they’re a lifestyle, echoed by a chorus of friendly voices.

In essence, the 21st World Congress of Family Enrichment served as a beacon, illuminating the path towards building stronger families through love, connection, and a shared commitment to positive transformation. The lessons learned will undoubtedly echo in our hearts as we continue our mission to nurture families and promote bright and cheerful homes.

 

Article written by: Martha Ogonjo

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