First contact: between suspicion and acceptance | Development and Peace

First contact: between suspicion and acceptance

August 20, 2014
Gabrielle Angers-Gosselin

The first contact in the women’s centres was a special experience for all of us. When the women saw us arriving for the first time in their centres with CEPROSI employees, we could feel a certain distrust directed our way. They continued to knit without paying much attention to our being there. For some of us, it was hard to feel rejected by the people we want to help.

But we can understand this behavior. It seems normal to us that they keep a certain distance from us, the “gringos” from Canada, who sometimes stumble with their language and arrive unannounced. However, what we found remarkable was that as we came into contact with them and won their trust, their attitude toward us completely changed.

We had the opportunity to bond with the women while preparing the health festival, which took place on June 27 in the city centre. Each intern was paired with a centre, with which he or she prepared one of the country’s traditional dances. This is how the women were able to get to know us better. A relationship between us was developed then, and we were able to gain their trust.

From that moment on, we were no longer ignored when we arrived in the centres where they knew us, but were greeted with a smile and a very warm welcome instead! Some of us were even surprised with an invitation from the women with whom we danced to share a collective meal they had prepared. They seemed so happy with the involvement of the interns and were delighted to share their food. We found these women to be endearing for their generosity, their simplicity, their desire to see us return once they came to appreciate us, and more importantly, for their desire to learn and gradually improve their condition without losing their smile.