Solomon and Immaculate Emyedu live with their 11 children in the small fishing village of Apai in northern Uganda. World Renew works with a long-time partner, Pentecostal Assemblies of God (PAG) Church of Kaberamaido, to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in the area.
The Emyedus are one of the local couples who have turned their relationship around through World Renew’s Stepping Stones program. As part of a small neighborhood group organized by the PAG Church, Solomon and Immaculate met weekly for several months to talk with other couples about healthy family life, marital faithfulness, and loving relationships.
Their group was part of a PAG outreach effort among 200 families in three fishing communities along Lake Kyoga, Uganda. These groups are led by community health champions and church leaders trained by World Renew.
The groups are facilitated using one of the participatory approaches that World Renew employs in group settings: members explore their attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors with the goal of analyzing and practicing new options that will result in more positive outcomes.
Before joining Stepping Stones, Solomon was a chronic alcohol abuser. At times, he was so drunk that he did not make it home at night. Other times he was unfaithful to his wife and slept with other women in the village. Immaculate also began to drink heavily and had an illicit relationship outside of marriage.
“I wasted all the money I made from my fishing business on drinking and reckless living,” Solomon said. “As husband and wife, we fought a lot.”
Solomon is now a church group leader, and Immaculate became the chairperson of the local mothers’ union, mentoring other women about healthy family life.
“Participating in a community group has strengthened our faith in God,” Immaculate said. “Through it, I have learned to put God first and to be faithful to my husband.”
In addition to having leadership positions in the church, Solomon and his wife also serve as role models for other families in Apai. They are now counseling three couples who are experiencing dissension and unfaithfulness in marriage. Their influence is inspiring others to change their minds and behavior as well.
“I realized that I put off joining a community group at first because I didn’t want to change,” Solomon said. “But now I know that I would have been a better man, husband, and father long ago if I had.”