In this week’s discussion, B.C. Dodge & Mordant talk with Robert Radtke about Episcopal Relief and Development’s new initiative with IRUSA to reduce gender-based violence in Liberia.
Dr. Radtke is president of Episcopal Relief and Development, which works in nearly 40 countries on issues of health, hunger, economic security and disaster response. “We’re very similar to Islamic Relief in many ways,” Radtke says.
The organization’s flagship program is the malaria-prevention program Nets for Life.
“One of the things that we discovered early on in our work is that there were a lot of long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets being distributed, but that the usage of the nets was not at the level that it needed to be,” he said. So Nets for Life brought together faith leaders — including Christians and Muslims — to educate their communities about malaria. Nets for Life reduced malaria incidence across the program by 45%.
Now a new initiative in Liberia is working in some of the same ways — bringing together Christian and Muslim faith leaders to reduce violence against women and girls. IRUSA is joining this effort.
“It’s about empowering and equipping Christian and Muslim leaders to serve as agents of change within their congregations and communities,” Radtke says.
The program will train leaders on how to help reduce violence — and the leaders aren’t only imams and pastors, but also youth leaders from different faiths. “We find that if we can reach youth leaders early on, that can make a huge difference,” Radtke says.
B.C. Dodge steps on his soapbox for a moment to point out that gender-based violence is a problem in many communities, crossing religious lines. The discussion turns to religion vs. culture — and how people from different faiths can work together to solve common problems.
“These are big problems … and you know we to need to work together to move the needle on some of this stuff,” Radtke says.
Radtke points out similarities between IRUSA’s values of sincerity, excellence, compassion, social justice, and custodianship, and his own organization’s values.
With so much common ground, it’s only natural to work together.
Radtke cites a proverb: “If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to get something done, go together.”
We’re trying to get things done together.
Listen to the podcast to learn more about religion vs. culture and about the new program in Liberia.
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