FAMILY FUSION: Celebrating family
It is a time to recommit ourselves to the concept of the family – a concept that must withstand the trends of lifestyle and legislation. – Unknown
YESTERDAY, Family Heartbeat International Network Inc. (FHIN, formerly Family Heartbeat Ministries), a not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO) with which I have been associated since its launch on November 1, 1999 celebrated 17 years of contributing significantly to family life in Barbados.
This month also marks three consecutive years that the Nation Publishing Company Limited has partnered with Family Heartbeat International Network (FHIN) in affording me the opportunity through this column, to expose, educate and empower Barbadians and the wider world about the relevance and rewards of family life.
FHIN expresses overwhelming gratitude to Editor-in-Chief Roy Morris and his team for their keen interest in promoting family life.
Coincidently, Barbados celebrates its 50th birthday this month. What a remarkable achievement. Today FHIN whose motto is Bringing Life And Hope To The Nations, joins fellow Barbadians, and especially every family-oriented NGO, in saluting our beautiful country.
FHIN is very happy to have contributed to the very backbone of society over our 17 years as an organisation. It is only prudent, therefore, that I share with you some of the invaluable and noteworthy contributions we have made and continue to make to our country.
Driven by our mission statement that “Family Heartbeat International Network exists to empower families to fulfil their God-given role in the home and the wider society”, we embarked on several initiatives to make that mandate a reality. Here are some examples.
In January 2004 we challenged all families to unite for a symposium, Family Fusion, to take a close look at their families and seek to invest more soundly in areas that would strengthen and secure them. Over 5 000 filled the Wildey Gymnasium.
Our February Stay Alive 2005 youth initiative saw about 3 000 young people make a commitment to remain sexually pure prior to, and after marriage, and be faithful to their married partners. An additional 2 000 people witnessed their public pledge. In October 2005, about 300 married couples gathered at Abundant Life Assembly to publicly and simultaneously reaffirm their commitment to their spouses in what was classified as an emotional session.
Making Your Marriage Marvellous interactive marriage seminar for couples married for five years or less, came off very beautifully on February 5, 2011, at Sir Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. It attracted about 300 married people. Comments expressed during and after the event spoke positively of its impact on the lives of these couples.
On February 2, 2014, Stand Straight In The Marriage Gate – It’s the Creator’s Command saw a record crowd of well over 5 000 people assemble at the Wildey Gymnasium. This national conference emphasised the preserving of the sanctity of God-ordained marriage. People still speak positively of its powerful family impact.
The all-men seminar Mighty Men of Valour, held in June 2007 at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre attracted close to 1 200 men who were challenged to be Sugar In The Home, Salt Of The Earth. Matters relating to their being effective family men and mentors to younger men were some of the areas that took centre stage.
Caribbean Gospel Network, our family-focused radio programme, as well as our Youth Pulse online presence have both challenged and changed the lives of many.
In August of 2010, we facilitated a two-day parenting seminar bringing together just over 15 governmental and non-governmental organisations. This seminar comprised of three stimulating workshops and over 15 interactive booths. Over 800 individuals attended.
The growing need for youth intervention has led to the formulation of the Decent Decisions Student Handbook, which we distributed in 2012 and 2013 to many first-year secondary school students and some Class 4 primary students.
This handbook addressed issues such as character development, physical transitions, online safety, bullying, drugs, study skills, goal setting, career preparation and daily motivation. In 2013 we initiated and facilitated an extended Health and Family Life Education programme for primary school students, where we teach one 40-minute lesson weekly.
Our network has commenced a holistic primary school teachers approach which includes the teaching staff. To date, the executive staff has completed the initial phase of teacher leadership training to one primary school with a full-day seminar on April 10, 2014.
At our counselling centre our trained staff has helped hundreds of children, premarital and married couples, those in the workplace and a wide cross-section of individuals in both preventative and curative counselling.
The network has so far published two books: Securing The Foundation Of Marriage Before Building The Family (2012) – a premarital workbook and A Portrait of God’s Model Woman (2014) – designed to empower women to be at their optimum.
Family Heartbeat International Network Inc. remains committed to uplifting families across this nation and challenges all Barbadians to strive to make their families marvellous.
• Haynesley Griffith is a marriage and family life consultant. Email: [email protected]