By Terry Njoki
Pastor Julia Paul is a minister of religion who was born and raised in Kenya but relocated to the United Kingdom in 2015.
She relocated to Nottingham in February of 2018 after finding life in London to be very expensive and difficult because she had family to support back in Kenya.
Pastor Julia grew up in a Methodist family and started participating in church activities at a young age in Kenya.
She started her organization Women Together in This which helps women understand that they are not alone in the challenges they face in their daily lives.
These challenges she mentioned include domestic abuse within the context of religion. She said there are instances when people misuse Bible verses in a misrepresented manner to perpetuate domestic abuse against their partners.
Pastor Julia said she had series of conversations with some pastors during which she realised that some of them did not know much about domestic violence and how much effect it has in the society.
As a result, she teamed up with some women and visited some churches to create awareness on domestic abuse.
To further raise awareness on domestic violence and how religious scriptures could be used as a tool to inflict such acts of abuse and violence, she said, Women Together in This organises workshops and trainings at the centre in All Souls Community Centre, along the Ilkeston Road in Nottingham where women from different faiths are targeted.
She said the centre receives support from Nottingham Women Centre, Mojatu Foundation and NCVS to sustain the organization.
NCVS supported the organisation with £500 to help run some workshops and training for the faith leaders which are both online and physical.
These sessions help them training and create groups who can have conversations mainly with women facing domestic abuse and violence thus reducing the circulation of myths in this regard.
Three months within its inception, they were able to do at least three trainings workshops within three churches and faith leaders.
At Women Together in This, our target is to have by June 2023, toolkits for the faith leaders which is aimed at furnishing them with sufficient and reliable information to disseminate information regarding domestic violence.
She said she does counsel sessions online at night as well as face-to-face sessions at the centre.
“Many people are reforming through counselling and signposting is being done for those facing signposting problems”, she said.
She also revealed that the personal challenges she faces include juggling between office work, school and counselling sessions saying, “I must therefore keep checking on my mental wellbeing as well.”
Pastor Julia said the other challenges are funding issues affecting the organization which limit her in the area of staff and other benefits.
“We are trying to work with the universities around to get some help through student placement because that will help us handle some of the workload”, she mentioned.
When she relocated to Nottingham, Pastor Elizabeth introduced her to Mojatu Foundation where she started volunteering as an FGM consultant.
She said volunteering at Mojatu was very useful because it helped her mental health and interacting with different people availed her the opportunity to regain her self-esteem.
Pastor Julia gratefully noted that when she Joined Mojatu, she found a family in the persons of Frank, Angela, Laura, and Penny who introduced her to community work.
Despite all the adversities she went through, she was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the project for Faith Leaders which was very successful whereby about fifty people were trained on FGM related issues.
Through this project, Mojatu Foundation applied for the Princess Training Award (PRTA) and had interviews from the PRTA Awards team which helped them understand how effective the project was and the impact it had on people’s lives.
Fortunately, the project she contributed immensely won the PRTA Award. She was recognized for her hard work, which privileged her to be among the team that received the award.
Such hard work and progress gained her recognition to be the cover girl of the Nottingham Mojatu Magazine (M045), and this has given her more recognition, publicity and positive feedback from colleagues and friends towards what she does.
Pastor Julia who enrolled at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) where she is studying psychology said, “going to back to school to enlighten myself more in the area of psychology will avail me the opportunity to be able to give back to the community”.
Training is online on Wednesdays and physical on Fridays 11:30am to 12:30 noon.