CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND PEACEBUILDING
WEST AFRICA PEACEBUILDING INSTITUTE One of
inspired by SPI
EASTERN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY
Amazing ripples of SPI-type work
J. Daryl Byler, CJP's executive director, introduces the recipient of the first CJP Alumni Award for Outstanding Service, Ali Gohar (right), a 2002 MA graduate and Fulbright scholar from Pakistan.
The ideas for this double-sized issue of Peacebuilder were planted more than two years ago. James and Marian Payne, CJP donors who have been generous beyond our imagination, asked simple yet profound questions: “How can CJP’s peacebuilding philosophy become more globally recognized? How can CJP expand its impact in the world?” As we discussed options, we landed on several strategies, including a special edition of Peacebuilder to explore the impact of initiatives that have emerged from EMU's Summer Peacebuilding Institute. The Paynes provided the funds for EMU communications staff to travel around the world and gather these compelling stories. From South Korea to South Africa to the South Pacific, from Mozambique to Manitoba, from the Philippines to India, staff circled the globe to learn about the successes and struggles of educational initiatives run by CJP-linked peacebuilders. The ripple effects of these peacebuilding initiatives are nothing short of amazing. And yet many of them wrestle with the same issues we face at CJP. How can peacebuilding organizations be financially viable for the long term, while remaining accessible to all who wish to expand their peacebuilding knowledge and skills? How do these centers continue to engage with their alumni in ways that are mutually beneficial? As you read this issue of Peacebuilder, I believe you will agree that the peacebuilding field – and the funders and advocates who want it to succeed – have much to learn from these stories. Keep in mind, though, CJP alumni are changing the world through work in other venues too – by consulting, working for NGOs, teaching in universities, and serving in government roles or with the United Nations. Others have promoted peacebuilding by becoming social entrepreneurs. With this issue of Peacebuilder, we say goodbye to Bonnie Price Lofton, a 2004 graduate of CJP’s master’s program, who birthed this magazine in 2005. This special issue marks the 16th that she has edited and, in most cases, researched and written. Her commitment to staying in touch with fellow alumni, and remembering the smallest details about their lives, has been extraordinary. Thank you, Bonnie! We also welcome Lauren Jefferson as the new editor-in-chief for Peacebuilder, which will now become an annual publication. Please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell us what you learned from reading this issue.
J. Daryl Byler, JD Executive Director
PHOTO by Michael Sheeler
CENTER FOR JUSTICE AND PEACEBUILDING
PEACEBUILDER is published annually by Eastern Mennonite University, with the collaboration of its development office: Kirk L. Shisler, vice president for advancement; Phil Helmuth, executive director of development; Lindsay Martin, CJP associate director of development. Loren E. Swartzendruber President Fred Kniss Provost J. Daryl Byler CJP Executive Director Lauren Jefferson Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Price Lofton Issue Editor Jon Styer Designer/Photographer J. Daryl Byler Jayne Docherty William Goldberg Patience Kamau Katie Mansfield Kathy Smith Leda Werner CJP Management Team Joel Christophel Jessica Hostetler Lindsey Kolb Proofreaders For more information or address changes, contact: Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Eastern Mennonite University 1200 Park Road Harrisonburg VA 22802 email@example.com 540-432-4000 www.emu.edu/cjp Online: All of the articles in this print version of Peacebuilder and the15 previous issues since 2005, can be found at emu.edu/peacebuilder (click on "Archives" for back issues). Contents © 2015 Eastern Mennonite University. Cover: Emmanuel Bombande, MA '02, co-founder with Sam Gbaydee Doe, MA '98, of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding in 1998, followed by its ancillary training school, the West Africa Peacebuilding Institute, in 2002. Photo by Jon Styer.
EASTERN MENNONITE UNIVERSITY
Intersecting paths toward justice and peace.................................................................2 From SPI to the world: 12 peacebuilding initiatives....................................................4 Is SPI still needed? Two Africans respond ......................................................................7
Bridge Builders, 1996: Working exclusively within a faith tradition.................... 8
JustaPaz, 1996: Lifting Mozambique from the rubble of war.............................. 12
WANEP/WAPI, 1998: Keeping tensions from escalating into chaos .................20
HMI’s peace trainings, 1999: Promoting cross-faith civility, justice..................26
API, 2000: Birthing peace clubs in African schools................................................ 32
MPI, 2000: Growing branches from a healthy tree trunk......................................38
AU’s Peace Institute, 2001: Practice, scholarship and development................ 44
Just Peace Initiatives, 2005: Winning hearts and minds gradually.....................47
The Peace Academy, 2007: Detoxifying the post-Yugoslavia region..................53
Pacific Centre, 2007: Responding to violent power and climate change.........59
NARPI & KOPI, 2008 & 2012: Reducing militarization in N.E. Asia.................... 65
CSOP, 2009: Helping Canadians to face difficult issues........................................ 71
Lessons from a 2004 meeting of peacebuilding institute leaders.................... 75 2014-15 calls to action by peacebuilding institutes ................................................78 The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) is rooted in Anabaptist-Christian theology and life, characterized by values and traditions that include nonviolence, right relationships and just community. CJP educates a global community of peacebuilders through the integration of practice, theory and research. CJP is based at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and offers a master's-level degree and certificate, as well as non-degree training through its Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Donations to CJP are tax-deductible and support the program, the university that houses it, scholarships for peace and justice students, and other essentials. Visit www.emu.edu/cjp for more information.
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Marian and James Payne, who did their undergraduate studies at EMU in the late 1950s, were CJP's founding donors two decades ago. In recent years they conceived of and funded the exploration of 12 SPI-inspired initiatives around the world for publication in Peacebuilder.
Intersecting paths towards justice and peace These three have never met – Marian and James Payne, residing in Richmond, Virginia, and Mulanda Jimmy Juma, residing in Johannesburg, South Africa – but all began a journey toward peacebuilding a quarter of a century ago. The trails they’ve taken have intersected at multiple junctures, without their knowing it. The Paynes are retired Pennsylvania educators, now in their early 80s, who chose in 1993 to be the founding donors of what is today the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) at Eastern Mennonite University, their undergraduate alma mater. Juma, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was a 20-year-old university student in his home country when CJP held its first peacebuilding workshop in Harrisonburg, Virginia, during the summer of 1994. 2
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The Paynes had been persuaded of the importance of an EMU-based conflict transformation program as a result, in part, of meetings at EMU with sociology professor Vernon Jantzi and with mediation experts Ron Kraybill and John Paul Lederach, who had both previously led Mennonite Conciliation Service. (Kraybill visited Virginia periodically while earning a doctorate of religion at the University of Capetown in South Africa in the mid-1990s.) At age 20, Juma had already survived multiple bouts of warfare in the Great Lakes region of Africa. His father was an educated man, respected in their village – which made him and his family the target of whichever set of armed combatants were sweeping through. Juma recalls hiding at age 4 under a rock with his 6-year-old sister as they tried not to breathe, listening to soldiers calling them “insects” and hunting to shoot them. His father was imprisoned and tortured nearly to death. A sister was raped and never able to function normally again. Juma became a refugee and eventually fled his country, arriving in South Africa in 1999.
Connecting with API Juma began corresponding with Carl Stauffer, a 1984 social work graduate of EMU, who lived in South Africa for 16 years and was MCC’s regional peace adviser for the southern Africa region PHOTO by Matthew Styer
from 2000 to 2009. In 2002, Stauffer arranged for MCC to give Juma a scholarship to attend the six-week training program of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API) in Zambia. This was also the year that Stauffer completed his master’s degree in conflict transformation at CJP and returned to teach at API. It was the third year that API was operational. API’s training materials and teaching techniques, then and now, strongly resemble those assembled in MCC’s Mediation and Facilitation Training Manual, first published in 1989 under Lederach’s co-editorship, as well as those used to this day in CJP’s courses. (Jantzi first developed CJP's curriculum, partly in consultation with James Payne. In addition to being a major donor to CJP, Payne was a long-time education professor, with expertise in curriculum development.)
Common roots Befitting their common roots, both API and CJP employ experiential-style instruction, where students do not sit hour after hour listening to lectures, but instead do role plays, storytelling, artwork and other exercises designed to elicit responses. The idea is for students to internalize the lessons and adapt them to their own situations. Lederach popularized this approach, dubbing it “elicitive” and “reflective.” Another indicator of common roots is the term “conflict transformation,” rather than “conflict” paired with the word “resolution,” “management” or “analysis.” Lederach coined and popularized “conflict transformation,” for reasons explained in chapter 1 of his Little Book of Conflict Transformation (2003).*1 Juma became an API trainer while resuming collegiate studies interrupted by wars in the Congo. In 2009, when Stauffer completed his doctorate in South Africa and returned to Virginia to join the CJP faculty, Juma succeeded him as MCC’s regional peace coordinator for southern Africa for three years. Today, Juma holds a PhD in politics, human rights and sustainability from Italy’s Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna and is the coordinator of peace studies and senior lecturer at St. Augustine College in Johannesburg, South Africa, where API now holds its summer training sessions. He is also API's executive director. In the summer of 2015, Juma will set foot on EMU’s campus for the first time, arriving to co-teach an SPI course with Stauffer, “Justice in Transition: Restorative and Indigenous Applications in Post-war Contexts.” Juma and the Paynes will be in proximity to each other at last – 25 years after they all began their separate, but oddly overlapping, life journeys.
Around the world, thanks to the Paynes Until then, the main connecting thread between Juma and the Paynes is me, the outgoing editor of Peacebuilder. I was able to interview Juma in South Africa on December 5, 2014, while on an around-the-world journalism expedition funded by the Paynes. With their usual farsightedness, Marian and James Payne con* John Paul Lederach wrote that using the term “conflict transformation” implies not focusing simplistically on the resolution of a specific set of problems. Instead one's vision is wider and longer term – to build “healthy relationships and communities, locally and globally.” It is also understood that conflict is normal in human relationships and a motor of change.
Mulanda Jimmy Juma survived a dangerous life journey before becoming executive director of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute.
ceived of the idea of reporting on SPI-type institutes globally. It took four writers and nine photographers to cover 12 peacebuilding initiatives on four continents and several islands during the closing months of 2014. The Paynes saw this as an excellent way of documenting the impact of SPI at its 20th anniversary year. I see this mammoth project as testimony to the Paynes themselves. Likely none of this would have happened if they had not stepped forward 20 years ago with a promise to cover any shortfalls experienced by the conflict transformation program in its inaugural year at EMU. They have been devoted, generous supporters of CJP ever since. Our journalistic explorations yielded this remarkable finding: Thousands who claim EMU as their alma mater not only share the same educational DNA, they often collaborate with EMUlinked partners around the world, feeling kinship with (and deriving support from) those who speak the same language of peacebuilding and who hold the same aspirations for a peaceful world based on justice for all. In small and large ways – from improved family relationships to war-ending dialogues – they’re building a better world. — Bonnie Price Lofton PHOTO by by Michael Sheeler PHOTO Jon Styer
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FROM SPI TO
FOR PEACEBUILDING At age 20, EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute has directly inspired the creation of 12 other intensive peacebuilding training programs in Africa, Europe, the South Pacific, North America, and Northeast and Southeast Asia, all of which are explored in this issue of Peacebuilder. The training programs operate under the following entities, listed in chronological order of year officially founded.1
1 One caveat to this list of 12: Reasonable definitional arguments could be made for taking a few off this list and adding a number of other initiatives around the world. For example, the Nairobi Peace Initiative-Africa (NPI-Africa) was founded in 1984 by Harold and Annetta Miller, both early ‘60s grads of EMU who were working with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). NPI has an annual peacebuilding institute that has tapped CJP-trained alumni, such as John Katunga Murhula, MA ’05. The Great Lakes Peacebuilding Institute, founded in 2004 with seed money from MCC, serves Francophone peace practitioners with month-long trainings each October. Fidele Lumeya, MA ’00, and Krista Rigalo, MA ’00, have taught there, as has Mulanda Jimmy Juma, formerly MCC’s regional peace coordinator for southern Africa, who is teaching at SPI 2015.
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1 BRIDGE BUILDERS – January, 1996 – headquartered in
London, serving churches throughout the United Kingdom.
2 JUSTAPAZ – Fall of 1996 – headquartered in Maputo,
Mozambique, mainly serving that country, yet also hosting participants from other Portuguese-speaking countries.
3 WEST AFRICA PEACEBUILDING INSTITUTE (WAPI)
under the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) – 1998 – headquartered in Accra, Ghana, with staff working in 15 countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Togo. 4 HENRY MARTYN INSTITUTE’S (HMI)
PEACEBUILDER TRAINING PROGRAM – 1999-2000 – headquartered in Hyderabad, India, but serving all of India, with a special focus on ethnic minority regions in the far northeast of India. 5 AFRICA PEACEBUILDING INSTITUTE (API) – 2000
– headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa (originally in Kitwe, Zambia), serving the whole continent, but particularly southern and eastern Africa.
PHOTOS by EMU Marketing
11 NORTHEAST ASIA REGIONAL PEACEBUILDING
INSTITUTE – 2008 – headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, but with summer peacebuilding sessions that rotate among South Korea, Japan, China and Mongolia. A sister group, the Korea Peacebuilding Institute, emerged in 2012. 12 CANADIAN SCHOOL FOR PEACEBUILDING – 2009
– in Winnipeg, Canada, attracting participants widely, but especially serving western Canada.
MINDANAO PEACEBUILDING INSTITUTE (MPI) – 2000 – headquartered in Davao, Philippines, attracting participants widely, but especially serving southeast Asia.
THE PEACEBUILDING AND DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE AT AMERICAN UNIVERSITY – summer of 2001 (closed after 2013 summer session by university administrators) – Washington D.C.
JUST PEACE INITIATIVES – 2005 – headquartered in Peshawar, Pakistan, serving all of Pakistan, with a particular focus on the northwest region where violent conflicts have a regional impact extending into Afghanistan.
THE PEACE ACADEMY IN SARAJEVO – 2007 – based in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzogovina (has not offered intensive trainings since 2012, but hopes are for resumption in 2016), serving post-Yugoslavia populations emerging from violent conflict. PACIFIC CENTRE FOR PEACEBUILDING – 2007 – headquartered in Suva, Fiji, but with wide focus on all South Pacific islands.
Most of these training centers call to mind SPI in its early years – attracting practitioners in the field who hunger for more training and not necessarily credit toward a graduate degree. By conservative estimate, the centers collectively train more than 2,000 people annually in mediation, restorative justice, trauma healing, healthy organizational leadership, and other approaches to conflict transformation. And, of course, these trainees spread peacebuilding techniques to others. (We’ll explore the impacts of each of the centers in their individual stories.) All 12 of the training centers have adopted materials and educational approaches that are reminiscent and evocative of SPI, the oldest peacebuilding institute of its kind – which makes sense, given the regular exchanges of instructors, who typically have long-standing connections to SPI's umbrella institution, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). Of the 26 instructors teaching at SPI 2015, for example, 18 have taught at one of the other dozen peacebuilding centers listed above and 13 are alumni of CJP.2 Reflecting with pleasure on the emergence of SPI-inspired peacebuilding centers around the world since the 1990s, CJP founding director John Paul Lederach says that CJP and SPI can act as “incubators,” birthing ever-better peacebuilding theory and practices. While many of the other centers are working in situations where they must be highly sensitive to their immediate context and thus focused close to the ground, Lederach believes CJP can serve as a “place of safety” and as a “convener” of conversations necessary for cross-fertilization, learning and growth. CJP can also walk alongside those who are just starting out, he says, helping them to connect to the worldwide network of practitioners and to learn from their predecessors committed to building justice and peace.
Caveats in crediting CJP Tracing the proliferation of peacebuilding training centers around the world to their origins is a bit like trying to determine which spring, stream or river contributed which molecules of water to the bay of an ocean. The hunger for peace amid violent conflict, the desire to learn peacebuilding skills, and the efforts of peacemakers from every walk of life and tradition – these know no boundaries. They 2 Other examples of cross-fertilization: (1) Kenyan Babu Ayindo, MA ’98, has taught at SPI repeatedly and at SPI-like peacebuilding initiatives in seven other locations. (2) Sriprakash Mayasandra, a native of India who is MCC’s Asia Peace Coordinator, attended SPI in 2011 and 2013. He served on HMI’s governing board from 2008 to 2014 and has been a guiding hand for other peacebuilding initiatives, notably MPI, NARPI, and the Caux Scholars Program, Asia Plateau.
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extend across all religions. Yet our focus in this Peacebuilder is necessarily narrow, mainly limited to how the Mennonite “peace church” tradition has given rise to practices and terminology that are transforming conflict around the world. That’s not to say that other traditions have not made major contributions, or that Mennonites have acted on their own (far from it, as you’ll see in these pages). But when the world seems bleak and hopelessness begs at one’s door, it helps to stop and reflect on how much has been accomplished by Mennonite initiatives in the last 20 years, relying mainly on dedicated people rather than other resources.
A brief history of CJP The journey to founding CJP began in the 1980s, when two men from staunch Mennonite families, Lederach and Ron Kraybill, became successively the first two leaders of Mennonite Conciliation Service. In 1985, Kraybill organized the service’s first summer training institute for 20 Mennonite attendees. Kraybill’s first hand-outs on how to mediate were printed on cheap blue paper and distributed in a manila folder. By 1988, his handouts had gradually been enlarged into a spiralbound manual, with additions from Lederach, David Brubaker (now a CJP faculty member), Jim Stutzman, Carolyn SchrockShenk and others. (Brubaker gets the credit for deciding that 40 pages of handouts would work better in a loose-leaf binder.) Contributors to the manuals were all leading trainings on their own, sometimes in conjunction with the Lombard Peace Mennonite Center near Chicago, which had been established by Richard Blackburn in 1984 to address congregational conflict. In 1989, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) published the first edition of what is now in its 5th edition, updated in 2008 under the title Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual: Foundations and Skills for Mediation and Facilitation. (The 2000 edition was titled Mediation and Facilitation Training Manual: Foundations and Skills for Constructive Conflict Transformation.) In the early 1990s, Kraybill and Lederach began talking about the need to systematically address conflict – particularly the need to prepare others for working in the field – rather than continue the Lone Ranger approach. Meanwhile at EMU, other field-experienced academics were having similar thoughts. Early in 1990, Joseph Lapp, then president of EMU, received a letter from Richard (“Rick”) Yoder, professor of business and economics. Yoder was on leave from EMU at the time and working in Kenya with the Kenya Rural Enterprise Program. His letter started by citing the need for Eastern Mennonite College (the “university” title did not come into use until 1994) to have a unique identity, one that would fill a serious gap in the world. “I think that EMC ought to be known as that peace college in Virginia,” wrote Yoder. He told this story to illustrate the need for Mennonite colleges to think seriously about offering peace studies: I spent a couple days in rural Kenya with a U.S. congressional staffer from the House Foreign Affairs Committee and asked her questions as to how the U.S. is responding to all these, largely non-violent, political and economic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Her response was, ‘We really don’t know what to do; we don’t 6
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Seven who attended a strategic planning meeting in 1995 for EMU's fledgling Conflict Transformation Program: (from left, standing) Paul Stucky, Ruth Zimmerman, Ron Kraybill, Vernon Jantzi. (Seated) Ricardo Esquivia, John Paul Lederach, Hizkias Assefa.
have the people or the tools to help us think in different paradigms!’ How sad, I thought; what do the Mennonites have to offer? 3 In mid-1994, Kraybill and Lederach joined Hizkias Assefa, an Ethiopian scholar-peace practitioner based in Kenya, and Vernon Jantzi to teach conflict transformation skills to 40 participants at EMU’s “Frontiers of International Peacebuilding” workshop. The event was successful enough to be repeated in 1995, the same year that EMU admitted its first full class of master’s degree students in conflict transformation within a program directed by Lederach. Soon after, in 1996, CJP deepened its justice focus by recruiting to its faculty Howard Zehr, an expert in restorative justice. By 1996, the Frontiers workshop had evolved into a series of intensive classes under a name that has endured to this day – the Summer Peacebuilding Institute, or simply SPI. In those early years, the Frontiers in International Peacebuilding conferences and SPI were simply opportunities for professional development and learning. But participants and graduate students in CJP began lobbying for SPI to offer the option of taking a course for academic credit. Today, not-for-credit trainees and graduate students share classes at SPI, though the latter must do more out-of-classroom coursework to earn their credits. In 2014, SPI enrolled a total of 184 people from 36 countries. Over the years, SPI has attracted 2,800 people from 121 countries to EMU’s campus. Upon his departure to the University of Notre Dame in 1999, Lederach was followed as director by Jantzi, then jointly Howard Zehr and Ruth Zimmerman, then Lynn Roth, and now J. Daryl Byler – all of whom came with extensive international experience in conflict zones. For a more thorough look at the history and functioning of SPI, see the summer 2014 Peacebuilder.4 — Bonnie Price Lofton 3 The Rick Yoder story was extracted from a history of CJP published in the 2005 inaugural issue of Peacebuilder, pages 3-7. 4 All back articles and issues of Peacebuilder are accessible online at emu.edu/peacebuilder (click on “Archives”).
PHOTO EMU archives
Is SPI still needed? TWO AFRICANS RESPOND The spring/summer 2014 issue of Peacebuilder focused on EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute at its 20th anniversary year. With the proliferation of peacebuilding institutes and workshops in Africa and elsewhere, is SPI still needed? In separate interviews, two Africans – one from Kenya and the other from Mozambique – answered “yes.” In 1996, Babu Ayindo traveled from Kenya to be among the earliest students pursuing a master’s degree in conflict transformation at EMU. He had always been a “doer” and credits EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (within which SPI is nested) for valuing that. “CJP has done a good job of identifying those practitioners who ordinarily would not have the time, patience or typical academic qualifications to enter an academic program,” he says, “It’s given them a great opportunity to study in the field and get credentials.” Babu’s major take-away from CJP? “Meeting instructors and professors who believed in me and my interest in the role of storytelling, dramatization, and other arts in peacebuilding. Howard [Zehr], Ron [Kraybill], Vernon [Jantzi], Lisa [Schirch] and John Paul [Lederach] were very supportive – they believed in me. This is such an important thing – to be believed in, and to be given the room to make mistakes and to learn for yourself.” Babu was impressed that though his professors were Mennonite-style Christians, “they respected those of us with different beliefs, including the spirituality of indigenous peoples.” Babu was raised Roman Catholic, but like many Africans his religiousness is deeply rooted in his indigenous connections to his ancestors and the natural world. “In moments of crisis, I draw from that.” He earned his MA in conflict transformation in 1998 and today, 17 years later, is pursuing a PhD in the field at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Babu is one of the most sought-after teachers of peacebuilding in the world. He has returned to teach at SPI repeatedly and at SPI-like peacebuilding initiatives in seven other locations: Washington D.C.; Fiji; Mindolo, Zambia; Nairobi, Kenya; Winnipeg, Canada; Davao, Philippines; and Caux, Switzerland. He is scheduled to teach at the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute in Mongolia in August 2015. In Babu’s view, the basic courses taught at most of these institutions are not substantively different from those at CJP. But each institution needs a strategic vision for its own area of the world, he says. Those in the Global South need to work more at decolonization, including decolonizing the meaning of peace and justice and tapping their own indigenous paradigms for
Babu Ayindo, MA '98, has taught at seven SPI-type institutions all over the world, in addition to his frequent stints at SPI.
peace. In the Global North, CJP should focus on shifting the United States toward a more just, peaceful path, Babu says. Methodist Bishop Dinis Matsolo of Mozambique agrees with that view. He credits Mennonites for spreading the theology of peace into churches around the world. Yet he asks, “Are Mennonites doing enough about U.S. policies, when I see the U.S. disregard the UN, start wars, and manufacture and use weapons widely?” Nevertheless, Matsolo greatly values his month-long sojourn at SPI in 2005: “To taste the heavenly banquet of studying with people from all the different countries – even those who were almost at war with each other – inspired me to think it is possible to solve the world’s problems. We lived together and shared with each other and learned from each other.” Matsolo has done coursework at two other peacebuilding institutes – one in his own country and the other in Zambia – but he feels SPI represented the ultimate experience. “SPI is like a fire at which embers get started and re-heated if they start to go out from being isolated. Once you’ve been at SPI, you can go out and start your own fires.” — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO EMU archives
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Bridge Builders 1996 • UNITED KINGDOM Working exclusively within a faith tradition OF THE 12 peacebuilding training centers around the world developed by alumni of EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI), only one focuses exclusively on conflict within a religious tradition. And that is Bridge Builders, headquartered in London. It focuses on conflicts within churches throughout the United Kingdom. “For churches to provide space for healing, we must intentionally prepare faith-based leadership to engage conflict constructively,” says John Paul Lederach on the Bridge Builders website. Alastair McKay, the founding director of Bridge Builders, points out that “very few people in the world are doing this work” – that is, addressing how the church deals with its own issues, such as congregational disenchantment with members of the clergy, usage of limited church space, modern versus traditional styles of worship, extent of outreach to outsiders, and priorities for the church budget. “We have to effect conflict transformation within the church itself for it to spill out,” says McKay. “Then the church will be a more dynamic witness to the world.” Officially founded in 1996 at the London Mennonite Centre but operating independently since 2011, Bridge Builders also happens to be the oldest training center connected to SPI and its parent organization, the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP). Inspiration for Bridge Builders can be traced to a three-day mediation course taught by Ron Kraybill in London in February 1994, says McKay. Bridge Builders’ ties to Mennonite-style Christianity are extensive. Alan and Eleanor Kreider, Mennonites now living in Elkhart, Indiana, developed the London Mennonite Centre into a resource for British churches from 1976 to 1990. Successors to the Kreiders included Nelson Kraybill, a Menno8
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nite church leader in the United States (who is also Ron Kraybill’s brother) and Mark and Mary Thiessen Nation, who co-directed the London center from 1997 to 2002 and who are now faculty members at EMU’s seminary. McKay, raised nominally Anglican, became a member of a small Mennonite church associated with the London Mennonite Centre, and grew to play a leadership role in many of the Mennonite-initiated projects in that city. One of those projects in 1995 was a voluntary community mediation service in one borough of London. Within a few months, it was clear that well-meaning individuals couldn't maintain the service in their spare hours. This was an early lesson in the need to secure a financial base for conflict transformation work, so that staffers could be hired.
Preparing to lead In the fall of 1997, McKay, his wife Sue and two children moved to Virginia so that McKay could pursue a master’s in conflict transformation and thus be better equipped to follow his calling. “There were various conflict resolution MA programs in the UK,” says McKay, “but their focus was largely international” and none offered him the opportunity to concurrently take seminary classes for credit, as EMU did. After studying with Ron Kraybill, John Paul Lederach and Howard Zehr, among others at CJP, McKay felt he had gained a “wider perspective, thinking not just about mediation, but systemically about conflict.” He next did a seven-month internship at the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center outside Chicago. By the time he and his family returned to London in 1999, he felt he had “brilliant preparation for launching a pioneering service [Bridge Builders] on a full-time basis.”
Alastair McKay, MA '99, at one of his last trainings as executive director of Bridge Builders, the organization he co-founded in the1990s.
Lederach became a member of Bridge Builder’s “council of reference” from the start and has remained so. Current CJP faculty member David Brubaker and McKay maintain regular collaboration on both sides of the Atlantic – McKay will be co-teaching “Leading Congregational Change” with Brubaker at EMU’s seminary in a summer 2015 session (he also co-taught a seminary course with Brubaker in 2006).
Stronger churches handling conflict better The Mennonite congregation in London never grew beyond a few dozen people, and currently has less than 15 active participants, probably because it never viewed its mission as gaining recruits or church planting, says McKay, but rather as introducing the Anabaptist-Mennonite approach to Christianity – especially pertaining to war, violence and peacemaking, as well as living out one’s beliefs. Along the way, the Mennonites realized they also could help British churches to function more healthily. McKay became the first full-time director of Bridge Builders and remained so for nearly 16 years, while adding a doctorate of ministry from the University of Wales and embarking on a path toward being an Anglican clergyman. At Bridge Builders, he was assisted by a succession of young Mennonite volunteers from North America, including Sharon Kniss ’06, who majored in justice, peace and conflict studies, and Sam Moyer, a 2014 nursing graduate. In March 2015, in anticipation of being ordained in the Church of England and assuming a half-time curacy, McKay handed his executive director responsibilities to Colin Moulds, a Bridge Builders’ associate who had been running his own mediation and training company. Is McKay still a pacifist, as he was as a Mennonite? “Absolutely,” he says, “I see this as integral to faithful Christian discipleship.”
One of the ongoing challenges of Bridge Builders has been financial solvency. Bridge Builders got off the ground initially and added staff in the middle 2000s with core money funneled through various Mennonite church agencies. But it has needed to be self-supporting since 2011 through a combination of fees collected for services and fundraising. And that has not been easy. McKay, Moulds and the other trainers charge for their services, of course, and their carefully planned and timed trainings receive rave reviews. But UK churches have slim or no budget lines for educating and equipping their staff and lay leaders. “Eventually, I hope it will be embedded in churches’ DNA that they need to allocate funding to obtain support for transforming conflict and functioning healthily,” McKay said. Bridge Builders courses range from one-day sessions with a limited agenda – such as “facilitating difficult meetings” and “leading well under pressure” – for a cost of 60 British pounds (about $90 U.S.) to five-day residential workshops for an average of 745 British pounds (about $1,124 U.S.), including training, materials, room and board.
Careful resourcing The advanced residential sessions – where people who have been through foundational courses are then empowered to themselves be trainers – are offered in comfortable, but not plush, retreat or college settings, with a maximum enrollment of 20. Participants receive print and PDF versions of material copyrighted by Bridge Builders. Some of the material would be familiar to people at other Mennonite-inspired peacebuilding training seminars, such as an adaption of the MCS version of Ron Kraybill’s Personal Conflict Style Inventory (which is a combination of the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument and the PHOTO by Christopher Dobson
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Two participants in Bridge Builder's "training of trainers" course held November 11-13, 2014, at St. Michael's College in Cardiff, Wales.
“We have made a real contribution to transforming how leaders lead and the way they handle conflict.” Gilmore-Fraleigh “style profile.”) If participants want to use the Bridge Builders materials to lead their own trainings, they are asked to pay fees. For each 50-page training manual reproduced in full, for example, the charge would be 5 pounds (about $7.50 U.S). “We want to know how our material is being used,” explains McKay, “and the fees charged for using our materials provide us with a small additional revenue stream.”
Five thousand trained McKay estimates that Bridge Builders has reached 3,800 people through its shorter workshops and 1,300 church leaders through the five-day foundational courses. As McKay was wrapping up his work with Bridge Builders, he sought feedback from the network of people he had trained over the years. In the last Bridge Builders newsletter prepared by his hand, he wrote: The overall impression that these responses have left me with is that Bridge Builders’ training courses have achieved much of what we set out to do; that they have had a lasting – and sometimes life-changing – impact for people who have participated in them; and that we have made a real contribution to our wider goal of transforming the culture in British churches of how leaders lead and the way they handle conflict. This helps me to finish my work with Bridge Builders with the sense that we have served the Church well, and contributed to her life and her service of the world in fulfilment of God’s loving purposes. That’s a good note to be leaving on. All Bridge Builders’ trainings are tightly programmed, down to 15- and 30-minute segments of time. Want to know what you might get from a training? Just peruse the Bridge Builders website, www.bbministries.org.uk, where (as an example) you’ll find these outcomes for the five-day foundational Transform10
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ing Church Conflict training. By the end of the course, said the website, participants can expect to have: Developed greater awareness about their communication style and its impact on others. Reflected on Biblical resources related to conflict. Enhanced their skills for communicating effectively in times of conflict. Experienced and practiced skills for facilitating meetings. Learned ways of building consensus and working with resistance in groups. Developed their ability to analyze conflict and to identify what intervention may be most appropriate, such as mediation. Considered ways to nurture a culture of creative engagement with conflict. Reflected on the type of leadership needed in times of anxiety and tension. Discovered ways that conflict can offer opportunities for growth. A key takeaway from Bridge Builders: This group has honed a series of smoothly flowing workshops – where no important points get squeezed out of the agenda and all necessary reference materials are efficiently supplied. Within a British cultural context, Bridge Builders is a model of quality organization and delivery, perhaps because it does not try to be all things to all people. It limits its focus to improving one particular aspect of the United Kingdom – its churches. — Bonnie Price Lofton PHOTO by Christopher Dobson
Enabling difficult conversations to be respectful When the Church of England installed its first woman bishop, 48-year-old Libby Lane, on March 8, 2015 – on International Women’s Day – it represented the culmination of years of debate, lobbying, anguish and finally respectful conversation to arrive at what one senior leader called this “new chapter … in the Church of England.”* It’s the “respectful conversation” part that interests us here. Bridge Builders contributed to making this conversation possible and thus, arguably, to making it possible for the Church of England to arrive at this new chapter of ordaining women as bishops, without breaking up over it. The respectful conversation was proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s first “director for reconciliation,” David Porter. Porter proposed that a full day of the General Synod’s “business time” in July 2013 be devoted to facilitated dialogue in small groups. Alastair McKay, MA ’99, then executive director of Bridge Builders, contributed to the design of the day and referred a dozen people trained by Bridge Builders to be facilitators of these small-group conversations. “Such dialogue is about seeking a way to grow in understanding of one another,” wrote McKay at the time. “It opens up the possibility of exploring how each participant has arrived at a particular position, and why some things are important to him or her. It gives participants a chance to engage with one another’s story. And it offers the prospect of real and deeper listening to one another.” Moving away from the debate mode marked by entrenched positions, the conversation mode requires time and a “skilled facilitator who can maintain a calm presence in the face of others’ anxiety,” said McKay. The facilitator needs to establish “safe space” by establishing a clear process and securing a commitment to the process. The aim in July 2013 was to encourage participants to understand each other’s positions and to grow in mutual respect as they did so, McKay said. “The two key fruits of any effective dialogue process are that of journeying together and of building relationships.” When the members of the Synod later moved to a formal decision-making context, they were more moderate in their language than they had been previously. They appeared to treat those with different views more respectfully, rather than as stereotypes. “As Christian disciples, we need to expect that we will * The legislation permitting women to be bishops in the Church of England was adopted in November 2014.
Alastair McKay, MA ’99, with CJP restorative justice professor Howard Zehr when both were at SPI in the late 1990s.
disagree with one another,” wrote McKay of that era before the Church of England shifted its historical stance and permitted women to be bishops. “What becomes critical is how we disagree, whether we can stay in one another’s company on the journey, and whether we can deepen our relationships with one another in the way that Jesus longed and prayed for, for his disciples.” Facilitated dialogue helps on a much smaller scale, as well. In a local parish recently, a church leader trained by Bridge Builders was wrestling with this contentious issue in his congregation: the use of a digital projector and screen to display the words of the worship service. “Having learned a thing or two at Bridge Builders’ residential and one-day courses,” wrote James (not his real name), “I started with a Bible study on the handling of conflict in Acts 6, then asked everyone in the room for their opinions…. ‘What makes you think that? What is your underlying concern?’ “There was some vigorous disagreement. Some quite difficult things were said… We asked for ideas to meet one or more underlying concerns – we got several, and then looked at them to see which might be effective at meeting those concerns. It became clear that there was a good consensus on two or three principles – that we wanted to keep using the projector, but that the screen was in the wrong place and the words weren’t always easy to see.” Everyone agreed to set up a task force to recommend practical solutions. “It felt as if we’d had a grown-up conversation in a Christian spirit,” said James. “It had taken us from some anger to a sense of moving forward together.” — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO EMU archives
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JustaPaz 1996 • MOZAMBIQUE Lifting their country from the rubble of war TWO DECADES BEFORE Bishop Dinis Matsolo journeyed from Mozambique to the United States to take three courses at EMU’s 2005 Summer Peacebuilding Institute, he was a peacemaker forged in the cauldron of one of the worst wars Africa has seen. “If you have a gun, you’ll use it…. If someone provokes you and you have a gun, you’ll say, ‘I’ll kill you – I have the power to do this,’” Matsolo told Peacebuilder, by way of explaining why his Methodist Church of Southern Africa promotes nonviolence as a way of life in Mozambique. This is a country where almost everyone over the age of 40 has fought with a deadly weapon or has family members who did so. And everyone knows people who met violent deaths. During nearly three decades of warfare – starting with a fight for independence from Portugal, followed by 16 years of civil war – it is estimated that Mozambicans handled 10 million firearms, or one lethal weapon for every two persons. Matsolo gave another example: “If you see a lion in your path and you don’t have a gun, you won’t walk toward it – you’ll find another way. If you have a gun, you’ll feel falsely protected by it and will walk into danger.” Matsolo’s remarks came during an interview in late 2014 in his office in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo. As district bishop, Matsolo oversees Methodist churches throughout Mozambique serving 16,000 members, almost all traumatized in some way as a result of warfare or its aftermath.
A brief history Mozambique’s war of independence against Portugal officially ended in 1975, with the triumph of Frelimo, the group that spearheaded resistance to colonial rule. 12
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But the country was left with many armed fighters and little else. Illiteracy stood at 90%. Infrastructure was non-existent. In 1977, Frelimo formally declared itself to be a Marxist-Leninist party with a mission to replace capitalist practices with a socialist economy. Political and military support came from Soviet-aligned countries. An opposition group, Renamo, emerged with backing from white-ruled Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and South Africa, and civil war ensued from the late 1970s to 1992. Widespread atrocities occurred amid economic collapse and famine. Mozambique’s churches and mosques were under constant attack during this era. Leaders were killed or disappeared. The Catholic Church was regarded as a lackey of the former colonial rulers, and the other religious institutions were viewed through Frelimo’s Marxist lens that religion is “the opium of the people” and therefore useless. But faced with a country in utter collapse – with a death toll exceeding one million and five million people displaced – the governmental and party leadership of Frelimo took an extraordinary step: it held a three-day meeting in 1982 with the leaders of the principal religious bodies in the country. Then-president Samora Machel (a former leader of the Frelimo freedom fighters) acknowledged that he needed the help of religious leaders to put the country on a better path. And the leaders readily responded. Their institutions, touching 90% of the population in some way, had been the only ones functioning through all the years of fighting, despite being stressed to the breaking point. Thereafter church leaders shuttled between Frelimo and Renamo through the late 1980s and into the early 1990s. Their first meeting with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama took place
Dinis Matsolo, bishop of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa
in 1988 in bush controlled by his guerrilla fighters. With infinite patience, the church leaders sought face-to-face negotiations between the warring parties. The church leaders needed, and received, help from leaders in other countries – some meetings between Frelimo and Renamo representatives were held in Kenya; the final series of peace negotiations were held in Italy over many months. Initially, the meetings yielded little. By early 1992, “the worsening drought in Mozambique was leading to increased attacks by hungry Renamo fighters on civilians and driving many to flee in search of safety and food,” wrote Anglican bishop Dínis Salomão Sengulane and Catholic archbishop Dom Jaime Gonçalves in a 1998 Accord article. “The irony was that the negotiating teams, enjoying the luxuries of Rome, seemed little concerned by the impact of the drought and the plight of ordinary Mozambicans.”1 In September 1992, during an impasse in the Rome talks, Archbishop Gonçalves (one of the four official mediators) wondered, “Did either of the parties sense any urgency or responsibility because mass starvation threatened?” Matsolo, Gonaçalves, Sengulane and the other church leaders were careful not to be perceived as taking sides – they knew it was essential to be viewed as neutral parties focused solely on the well-being of Mozambicans as a whole. In their quest for peace, wrote the Accord authors, the Mozambican churches adopted these principles: Look for what unites rather than what divides. Discuss problems step by step. Keep in mind the suffering that so many people endure as war continues. 1 From “A Calling for Peace: Christian Leaders and the Quest for Reconciliation in Mozambique” in Accord, 1998. CJP professor David Brubaker, who spent early 2012 in Mozambique researching its peace process, confirms and applauds the role played by church leaders. (Immediately after the 1992 peace accord, Brubaker did peace education and conflict resolution trainings in Mozambique on behalf of UNICEF.)
Boaventure Zitha, coordinator of the weapons-exchange program
Work with the friends and supporters of both sides; this is fundamental. Remember the deeper dimensions of peace such as forgiveness, justice, human rights, reconciliation and trust. Work with other groups – the power of the churches being much increased by inter-denominational cooperation. On October 4, 1992, Frelimo and Renamo signed the Rome General Peace Agreement. Renamo agreed to transition from being a rebel group to being a political party that would stand for election against Frelimo. But the struggle for peace wasn't over.
Alfiado Zunguza & post-war peacebuilding In 1993, Mennonite Central Committee sent a couple in their late 50s, Sara and Fremont Regier, to Mozambique as country codirectors. In The Mennonite (March 2015), Sara said this was their most difficult placement in their three decades of service work. Mozambique was a dangerous place to live for anyone – “people were coming back from refugee camps to find homes destroyed and looted,” said Sara, now a widow (Fremont died of cancer in 2010). But Sara also remembered that Mozambican church leaders “had an amazing love for Christ, a desire for peace and a strong sense of call,” she wrote. The Regiers encouraged Alfiado Zunguza, a Methodist pastor who was active in the peace and reconciliation work of the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM), to enroll in EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Program (SPI). Before going to EMU, Zunguza helped launch the CCM’s “Turning Guns Into Hoes” program. This was an ambitious nationwide program that aimed at demilitarizing the population. In exchange for turning in guns and other military artifacts, people received useful items, such as sewing machines, bicycles, farm implements and construction materials. Boaventure Zitha, CCM’s long-time coordinator for the weapons-exchange program, told Peacebuilder it brought to life the prophetic vision of the Biblical Micah: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” PHOTOS by Alfredo Mueche
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Joao Damiao Elias, Methodist pastor active in interfaith work
Many of the 800,000 weapons collected from 1995 to 2014 (when international donors stopped paying for the useful items offered in exchange) have been destroyed under controlled conditions. But some have been safely dismantled and used to create intriguing sculptures displayed widely in Mozambique and internationally in galleries. In addition to collecting weapons, the CCM has helped communities embrace former soldiers – “it’s an African tradition that sons and daughters must always be welcomed home,” said Zita – even if these children have maimed and killed people and wreaked destruction. Elders and chiefs oversee purification and reconciliation rituals (often slaughtering animals for communal meals) to enable ex-soldiers to return to their home communities, he explained. Subsidized by the United Methodist Church USA, Zunguza took his first four SPI courses in 1996. When Zunguza returned to Mozambique after his summer of peace studies, he and his church established a department of conflict resolution and reconciliation to do ongoing peace work. The next year, 1997, the United Methodist Church offered Zunguza the opportunity to be a full-time master’s student in conflict transformation at EMU. It was a difficult decision. He would have to leave behind his wife Carla and daughters, one of whom was a newborn. With Carla’s support, he took what they viewed as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” CJP founding director John Paul Lederach recalls having Zunguza in two classes in 1997, when he wrote a paper outlining the founding of something similar to SPI in Mozambique. “Hearing John Paul and other professors talking about conflict transformation as a strategy to address conflicts from interpersonal to systemic change, I came to the conclusion that this was the kind of strategy Mozambique needed to move from a conflicthabituated society to a peaceable country,” Zunguza recalled recently. “I learned that numbers matter in nonviolent actions, and getting more people excited and committed to conflict transformation was a great way of promoting change in a peaceful and sustainable way,” he added. “Launching an institute similar to 14
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Anastacio Chembeze, head of the Electoral Observatory
SPI, and directed to Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa, was a strategic move to expand the number of peacebuilding activists in Mozambique. Thanks to SPI, we didn’t need to reinvent the wheel.” In 1999, Zunguza returned home and led his church department to expand beyond church-initiated mediations and reconciliation meetings to becoming a broad-based center for conflict transformation named JustaPaz.2 As an independent organization, JustaPaz was able to reach a larger constituency, though it was still backed by its founding church, with church representatives on its board. “JustaPaz was our baby,” Methodist bishop Denis Matsolo told Peacebuilder with a satisfied smile. Matsolo views the 1992 peace agreement in Rome (which he called a “ceasefire” agreement) as simply a door cracked open that JustaPaz needed to help people walk through constructively. “Peaceful co-existence is a process, not an event,” said Matsolo. After the ’92 agreement, the next step was “concentrating on creating a community-based culture of peace.” “We [Mozambicans] had to grow enough to understand that we can live together and wear different political T-shirts and think differently, because diversity is not a problem. There’s richness in diversity. It’s only a problem if the others think it’s a problem, if they think, ‘If you are not part of us, you are against us.’ We needed to create a safe space for dialogue.’’ One of the first initiatives of JustaPaz was working with its own base constituency, the Christian Council of Mozambique, which Matsolo led as general secretary.
Role of religious peacemakers The religious bodies of Mozambique had weathered 30 years of warfare without turning on each other. None had ever formally lined up with one of the political-military groups, despite the 2 There is also the JustaPaz organization in Colombia whose founder, Ricardo Esquiva, was among the visionaries who conceived of CJP in the early 1990s. JustaPaz means “JustPeace” (combining the ideas of justice and peace) in both Spanish and Portuguese, though in the Mozambican version of the term, the “J” is pronounced as a hard consonant.
PHOTOS by Alfredo Mueche
fact that most of the resistance leaders came from Presbyterian or Methodist backgrounds. When Methodist pastor Joao Damiao Elias received his first church assignment in 1991, he found himself in northern Mozambique amid a largely Muslim community. “I invited them to my church, and they came. They invited me to the mosque, and I went. We had no problems!” But not having problems did not mean that the religions were formally cooperating with each other. The Muslims were strong in the north and along the seacoast (due to a history of trade with Islamic countries), the Catholics were in the vast majority in central Mozambique, and various Protestant churches had spread their wings in the south. Traditional religious practices continued everywhere – followed by perhaps half the population – often mixed with the institutionalized religions of the region. Plus there were small groups of Jews, Hindus and Baha’is. Families were often divided, as explained in a fall 2014 article published by the United Methodist Church: Members of the church itself were split between the two parties, Renamo and Frelimo. Sometimes even members of the same family had backed different sides during the war. Now they were all expected to live and work and attend church together. In 2006 JustaPaz began facilitating “constructive dialogues” among the various faith groups through interfaith symposiums held in all regions of the country. Soon thereafter, JustaPaz began training individuals from each religious tradition to play peacemaker roles in their communities and to also train others to play those roles. Over eight years, hundreds of leaders went through JustaPaz trainings, designed to make local religious institutions, often the only community hub in remote areas, more effective in responding to simmering conflicts, community development issues, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and other local matters of well-being.3
Keeping elections honest In another step toward a community-based culture of peace, a coalition of religious and civil society groups founded the Electoral Observatory in 2003 to address fears of corrupt electoral processes by independently observing the voting and the counting of votes.4 Its executive director, Anastacio Chembeze, has been trained at both JustaPaz and a sister institute, the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (when it was in Mindolo, Zambia), instructed by Babu Ayindo of Kenya (MA ’98) among others. When a Peacebuilder reporter asked to visit JustaPaz during October 2014, Zunguza requested a two-month postponement of the visit, explaining that everyone associated with JustaPaz would be working non-stop during the weeks around the national elections, scheduled for October 15, to ensure “free, fair and transparent elections” and to head off violence. When the polls opened, 3 From “Justapaz: Peace, Restorative Justice, and Human Rights in Mozambique” by Christie R. House, originally published in the SeptemberOctober 2014 of New World Outlook, a United Methodist Church magazine, posted umc.mission.org. 4 The groups were the Christian Council of Mozambique, the Islamic Council of Mozambique, the Episcopal Conference of the Catholic Church, the Human Rights League, the Mozambican Association for the Development of Democracy, the Centre of Democracy and Development Studies, the Civic Education Institute, and the Organization for Conflict Resolution.
Alfiado Zunguza, MA '99, founding director of JustaPaz
On calming elections JustaPaz first became involved in Mozambique’s national elections in 2004. “JustaPaz was invited by the governor of Sofala Province, Felício Zacarias, to conduct training workshops in two districts: Maringue and Caia,” Alfiado Zunguza explained. “There, election-related violence had been very intense during the presidential and parliamentary elections held in 1994 and 1999. At the time, the governor was concerned with the possibility of more deadly violence during the 2004 general elections, since the political confrontation between Frelimo and Renamo members was escalating in those two districts.” Using a problem-solving approach, the five-day-long workshops were organized in partnership with local government. Participants in these workshops included traditional leaders, Frelimo and Renamo party representatives serving at district levels, youth leaders, local nongovernmental organizations, and some local government representatives. “Since the political confrontation was so intense,” Zunguza said, “the first two days of the workshop were also intense and confrontational, with a high level of distrust between Frelimo and Renamo participants. One interesting story worth mentioning came from the Caia District workshop. There, the Frelimo and Renamo representatives lived in the same neighborhood but had never spoken to one another before the workshop. On the fourth day of the workshop, however, the Frelimo representative was seen giving a ride home to the Renamo representative. That was the first sign of hope.” After these trainings, the two most dangerous and violent districts in the 1994 and 1999 general elections became the most peaceful ones during the general elections of 2004 and 2009. “The political parties know how to deal with their differences,” Zunguza pointed out, “and the traditional leaders play a critical role in mobilizing the community members for peace and development.” By Christie R. House, editor of New World Outlook, the mission magazine of The United Methodist Church. Excerpted with permission from “Justapaz: Peace, Restorative Justice, and Human Rights in Mozambique” in the September-October 2014 magazine issue.
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Abdul Carimo Sau, general secretary of the national Islamic Council
Tomás Passuane, national director of police training
the Electoral Observatory had 2,500 observers around the country bique, Carimo notes with satisfaction that “all religions in this to monitor the voting. country work together in a peaceful environment.” “On election day, we had one terrible example,” Chembeze “It becomes a catastrophe for a country or a continent when said when the Peacebuilder reporter finally visited in December. religious leaders use religion to promote their political aims. Our “There was a shooting and the polling station with its election constitution has both freedom of religion and the separation materials was burned. In two other places, there was some fightof church and state,” he told Peacebuilder. “I think this is very ing, with property damage and people injured. These were stains important for the stability of our country. We can be a model for on the elections. others.” “I don’t believe these have affected the outcome of the elections, but there are things we cannot excuse – we need to be tough on On dialoguing with citizens this. We can’t settle for 85% peaceful elections; we’re aiming for Beyond improving the electoral process, JustaPaz aims to foster 100%.” constructive dialogue between governmental decision-makers and In Mozambique (indeed in many countries in the world), the those affected by their decisions. victors in elections play out a “winner-takes-all” scenario. With “Civil society has the power to change the way governance is political power comes access to resources, so electoral battles are conducted,” Zunguza explained in the September-October 2014 hard fought. Power, once attained, is not easily relinquished. This New World Outlook. “Otherwise, government officials will use the is one of the reasons why fighting, believed to be linked to the divisions in society to maintain their power. Civil society must survival of one’s group, often erupts around election time. challenge this assumption of power and hold the government In 2013, a decade after the Electoral Observatory began its work, accountable.” the Parliament of Mozambique decided to set up a National One activity for which many Mozambicans wish to hold their Electoral Commission. Parliament appointed Abdul Carimo Sau, government accountable is the extraction of resources, often by general secretary of the Islamic Council of Mozambique (one of foreign powers. Currently the most visible foreign power is China. the founders of the Observatory), to chair this commission, made Near the waterfront in downtown Maputo in late 2014, signage up of appointees from disparate groups in the political spectrum. in Chinese, Portuguese and English announced the construction To prepare for their work together, Carimo dispatched his of conference-resort facilities by Chinese firms. One of the most six sitting commissioners to JustaPaz’s summer peacebuilding modern buildings facing the water was the Ministry of Foreign institute for two weeks of training. He himself attended the Affairs headquarters, built with money from the Chinese governtwo-day opening conference that JustaPaz always holds before the ment. two-week session. “A third of all roads in the country are being built by Chinese “We knew each other from our organizational roles,” said companies in addition to the auditor-general’s office, Maputo InCarimo, in explaining the reason he sought JustaPaz training for ternational Airport, national soccer stadium, national conference his commissioners. “This gave us a chance to know each other in center, communications networks, and water supply projects,” other ways, beyond our organizational boundaries.” wrote David H. Shinn in “China’s Involvement in Mozambique.”5 Carimo also thought the training would enable the commis“The Chinese are denuding the country of its timber. In fact, sioners to “speak the same peace language and use the same skills” they’re extracting as many natural resources as they can. They’re when working with others in the broad network of JustaPazdestroying our environment," said one small business owner. "I’ve trained people. “JustaPaz gave us small books [for reference], and protested against this. Our government is permitting too much of I use them.” With Muslims about half as numerous as Christians in Mozam- 5 Published in International Policy Digest, 08/02/12. 16
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PHOTOS by Alfredo Mueche
“It becomes a catastrophe for a country or a continent when religious leaders use religion to promote their political aims.” this, with little benefit to the people.” Mozambique is a poor country by any financial standard. On its list of 187 countries in the world, the International Monetary Fund ranks Mozambique as No. 181 in gross domestic product per capita (pegged at $1,046 in 2013). Major funding to stabilize Mozambique from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other international organizations also comes with pressure on the Mozambican government to repay at least some of the money. On the surface, therefore, it may be understandable why the government is willing to sell whatever it can to get money into its coffers for getting out of debt and for (one hopes) providing roads, schools, hospitals and other services to its citizens. But the people living in the regions most affected by the sell-off of natural resources don’t necessarily agree. And here is where JustaPaz is trying to be helpful. Zunguza pointed out that development plans can either worsen or ease conflict, depending on how these plans are implemented. The trainings of JustaPaz encourage “officials to reflect critically on the implications their development policies would have on the local communities. Were their policies helping to reconstruct the country or just creating more conflict?” To be clear: JustaPaz doesn’t position itself as a critic of any government. On the contrary, it views government as “a strategic partner in peacebuilding and development,” said current JustaPaz executive director Francisco de Assis. “You can’t have security and stability without a functioning government, supported by the communities it serves.”
made a mistake because I was not an active listener, the way I am now. Now I make time to discuss deeply the issues. “It is common in rural areas for victims and offenders to be willing to sit and discuss issues and to dialogue to resolve conflicts,” he added. “It is common in rural areas for offenders to apologize and for the parties to reconcile with each other. Our police need to understand that these are good practices and they need to support them.” Passuane returned to JustaPaz’s two-week summer institute in 2008 and took two more courses. Since then, he has helped form a department within his police force to specifically deal with domestic violence. The biggest change for him? With a smile, he simply said, “My wife was the first to applaud my JustaPaz training.” Ideally, if Passuane had the budget, he would use JustaPaz to train all his new police officers. Second-best would be for JustaPaz to train one or two police officers in human rights, who could then be trainers in each of the 16 police districts. Marlene Rosária Mafundza is an attorney, a recorded hiphop singer, and a human rights activist, specially concerned for women. “Torture by police – it’s a culture in Mozambique,” she told Peacebuilder in excellent English. “I hear stories every day.” After taking one JustaPaz course in human rights and the law, Mafundza was invited to present a paper, “Gender and the Political Empowerment of Women,” at a JustaPaz-sponsored conference in mid-2014 on building political stability. As a result of this exposure, Mafundza decided “it is super important for JustaPaz to train police. And to train judges too. And to make sure that citizens know their rights.” Working with police, judges, courts JustaPaz executive director Francisco de Assis later explained In the legal arena, JustaPaz is helping law-enforcement officials to that, since 2004, JustPaz has admitted two police officers per year be more humane, more respectful of human rights. into its two-week peacebuilding institute without charging for Tomás Passuane talked with Peacebuilder at an outdoor café this service. If funding were available, JustaPaz would expand the within eyesight of the national police headquarters for trainings of police. Mozambique. Inside that multi-story, security-tight structure, As for the courts, the Ministry of Justice did use JustaPaz to he heads the training program for 30,000 police working across help train 960 judges and tribunal authorities in all 16 districts of Mozambique. Each year, 3,000 fresh recruits join the police force, Mozambique from 2011 to 2013, according to Samel Salimo, an all of them under the training oversight of Passuane. advisor to the Ministry on community courts and rural tribunals. In 2004, Passuane was one of two Ministry of Interior officials These trainings were done in 16 groups of 60, who gathered for dispatched to accept JustaPaz's offer of two free courses for each five straight days. “JustaPaz played a very important role in introministry official. Passuane chose to take a one-week module in ducing restorative justice and mediation,” Salimo said. conflict transformation and another in mediation and negotiation. It’s necessary to understand that Mozambique has two judicial With his doctorate in psychology and warmly humble systems that are intended to complement each other. demeanor, Passuane would seem unlikely to need training in There’s the formal system derived from the Global North, with empathic listening and compassionate justice. Yet he says he was judges listening to adversarial lawyers who argue over which laws overly tough on people in his first 18 years as a police officer, and have been broken, with what consequences for whom. This costs only began to change after he took the JustaPaz trainings. “I used money and takes time, plus the courts are only located in the to be in the investigation unit,” he said through a translator, “and larger municipalities. I now feel I did not act like a professional then. And then there’s a huge network of less-formal, more indig“I recall a case when I beat a boy arrested for theft and didn’t enous “community courts” – 3,000 of them – which deal with give him time to talk to me. Then, at the end of the day, he said everyday issues, like the theft of a cow or domestic conflict or he had not been the one who stole and he told me who did it. I land usage, where the people involved speak up for themselves peacebuilder ■ 17 emu.edu/cjp
Marlene Rosária Mafundza, a human rights attorney
and the matter is discussed to arrive at a settlement acceptable to the community. “We get positive feedback about the community courts. More than half of the community judges are women. It doesn’t cost much, and it’s fast,” said Salimo. But, as helpful as the community courts are, they would benefit greatly from more exposure to the conflict transformation techniques taught by JustaPaz, he added.
Samel Salimo, advisor on community courts and rural tribunals
Suggestions for donors
Over the years, Mozambicans have come to know which donors are most helpful and which could be more constructive. In response to questions, Peacebuilder garnered these two pieces of advice for prospective international donors: (1) Take the time to visit and see the needs and the results in person, rather than asking for voluminous computertyped reports, each laboriously prepared somewhat differently Waxing and waning with funding in response to the demands of the funder. In the words of In 2004, the year that Tomás Passuane enrolled in his first Boaventure Zitha, who runs the weapons-exchange program JustaPaz module, JustaPaz moved its offices from the business under the Christian Coalition of Mozambique: district of Maputo to a residential suburb, Matola, in pursuit of If I’m trying to get people to give up their AK-47s, I’ll need a day cheaper rent payments. to talk with people, two days to convince them to come to a meeting, Over the years, the size of the JustaPaz staff has waxed to 15 and and three days to have a meeting, and then I will get some AK-47s waned to four, depending on the size and type of grants secured turned in. But when I report this to America, they’ll say, ‘Why so for a period of work. For its 2014-15 work by its staff of 11 in a much time? Why did this cost so much money?’ But you can’t deliver four-room office, JustaPaz expects to get 72% of its $350,000 (in change in two days. This is not like following a blueprint. And then U.S. dollars) budget from Bread for the World-Germany, plus I’ll have to spend time meeting the Americans’ demand for kilograms $105,000 from the United Methodist Church. USAID also proof reports. Half my time will be lost to producing reports. Why don’t vides some funds for HIV-AIDS education work. they just come meet us face-to-face and see for themselves? Relative to Angola’s 27-year civil war (costing millions of lives) (2) Realize that the absence of open warfare does not mean the after its independence from Portugal in 1975, Mozambique has work of peacebuilding is over. On the contrary, peacebuilders done well. Its civil war ended after 16 years, with fewer casualties will always be needed to transform conflict constructively. This than Angola. Despite huge obstacles, Mozambique has made is especially true in the absence of stable, trusted governmental steady progress toward being a multi-political-party society where institutions. In the words of JustaPaz executive director Francisco all religions, all ethnicities and both genders can live in their own de Assis: ways without being victims of, or resorting to, violence. Religious In the West, unless CNN comes in, people think there are no major leaders cooperating with each other to build peace, plus civil soci- problems. But every crisis, every war, really started long ago. That’s ety organizations like JustaPaz, deserve much of the credit for this. what needs to be recognized in order to prevent future wars. Humans So do certain international funders who have chosen to walk can change for the better or for the worse – and that’s why the work alongside Mozambicans for decades (not just a year or two) as of peacebuilders will never be over. We must never stop working at they resurrect their country from ashes: Bread for the World encouraging humans to change for the better, though none of us will (funded by a consortium of Protestant churches in Germany); ever reach perfection. Peacebuilding needs to be a line in budgets DIAKONIA Sweden (also a faith-based organization); the United everywhere. Not just for a couple of years, or even a decade, but Methodist Church; Catholic Relief Services; and some governforever. We need to be doing this work for generations to come. ments, notably those of Sweden, Denmark and Switzerland. — Bonnie Price Lofton 18
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Methodists appeal for JustaPaz funding For 2014-15, the United Methodist Church posted an online request for donations totaling $105,000 to support JustaPaz’s work, summarizing the organization’s work as “providing training in conflict resolution and restorative justice to police, government and churches.” The UMC request is excerpted below, with slight edits, with the permission of Alfiado Zunguza, MA ’99, former JustaPaz executive director, now executive secretary for Africa in the Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. The democratization process [in Mozambique] is generating many conflicts and violence as many people feel discriminated against and excluded from the process. Development programs are also generating conflicts at a community level due to conflicting interests between the state and communities. Development planners at the district level do not have sufficient conciliation and facilitation skills to undertake consultative development planning that would get everyone involved in the process and contribute to the reduction of conflicts and ease feelings of exclusion. Conversely, community members are ill prepared to actively get involved in the development process. Women are the most disadvantaged as they are less literate and have fewer opportunities for education and empowerment that would enable them to access resources and make a greater contribution to development and economic growth. Conflicts and violence at the community level are still part of day-to-day life for many communities. Police officers are not prepared to respond in more cooperative and constructive ways to those conflicts. The development of skills in mediation and cooperative dispute resolution are critical to the improvement of police actions. Most of the literature available in the area of conflict transformation, peacebuilding, and restorative justice is in English or French. Booklets and manuals in Portuguese, as well as in the local languages, are needed. If JustPaz is to expand the knowledge, approaches, and strategies necessary for building peace, it needs to develop literature in the languages people understand.
Work requiring funding Building on past successful work, JustaPaz seeks $105,000 as partial support for the following projects:
Francisco de Assis, with engineering and law degrees, is the successor to Alfiado Zunguza as executive director of JustaPaz.
To build community conflict mediation skills among the police and promote restorative justice and access to justice ministries in communities, using capacity-building seminars and workshops as well as radio debates and dramas. Ten workshops targeting community judges and 350 police officers are to be implemented each year, plus about 30 radio debates in five districts.
To equip religious institutions with the skills necessary to expand their role as peacemakers and prevent violence. This is expected to benefit three to five denominations per year.
To empower women to become more active in violence prevention and economic development. More than 25 women in each district are to be empowered, totaling 125 women in five districts over one year.
To develop, produce and disseminate conflict transformation and restorative justice literature in the Portuguese language, as well as in local languages. Addressing two different topics, print 2,000 illustrated booklets on each topic per year.
To organize one Lusophone conference per year, bringing approximately 80 experts and peacebuilding activists from other African Portuguese-speaking countries for sharing experiences and knowledge development.
To equip senior government officials and consultative committee members at the district and provincial levels to implement human rights and conflict-sensitive governance and development planning, through the delivery of seven workshops benefiting around 245 per year.
Editor’s note: After leading JustaPaz for 18 years, Alfiado Zunguza shifted the leadership of JustaPaz to Francisco de Assis in 2014. In 1996, 1999 and 2000, Assis took trainings in Canada in negotiation and mediation. He joined the staff of JustaPaz in 2000, after working as an agricultural engineer and teacher and teacher’s union leader.
PHOTOS by Alfredo Mueche
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WANEP/WAPI 1998 • WEST AFRICA Keeping tensions from escalating into chaos
THE NEWS COMING OUT of Burkina Faso worried Emmanuel Bombande, MA ’02, in late October 2014 as he boarded a flight for Europe. For months, the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) – led by Bombande as executive director for 11 years – had been warning that Burkina Faso sat teetering at the edge of chaos. Would the country’s long-serving president try to cling to power by amending the constitution? Or would he respect the term limits placed on his presidency and step down? The previous March, a WANEP policy brief had warned of a political crisis leading up to a 2015 presidential election: The current political context in Burkina Faso is a cause for concern to WANEP and other [civil society organizations] in the region and beyond. Tensions around constitutional amendments and transitions, political intolerance, identity-based politics as well as a lack of institutions for managing grievances [are] evident in the run-up to the elections. As the months went by, the political situation continued to deteriorate. Moderate voices began to say outrageous things. WANEP staff in the country began to fear for their safety. As Bombande traveled to Bruges, Belgium, for a meeting at the United Nations University, his heart remained behind in Africa, where tensions in Burkina Faso were heading toward explosive. He was constantly checking the news. As the meeting in Belgium began in the morning, Bombande’s Twitter feed began to confirm his fears. A crowd had gathered at the parliament building in the capital, Ouagadougou. By the first coffee break, the situation had worsened: parliament was in flames and the military appeared to have seized power. “The 20
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whole country was on the brink of total disaster,” he recalls. The crisis in Burkina Faso was following a depressingly familiar script. President Blaise Compaoré had first come to power through a military coup in 1987. Four years later, he won election as the country’s president. Compaoré went on to serve four terms as president, despite a constitutional amendment in 2000 setting a two-term limit. He circumvented this with a friendly ruling that the term limit could not be applied retroactively. Even by that generous interpretation of the rules, though, Compaoré would not have been eligible to run again for president in 2015 – unless the constitution were to be amended again. That’s exactly what Compaoré tried to do, and that was the matter being debated in parliament when the mob set fire to the building, as Bombande followed along in horror on Twitter. The following day, Compaoré resigned his office and fled the country, leaving an officer from his presidential guard in apparent control. The regional implications were also troubling to Bombande. With violent extremism spreading throughout the Sahel – Mali, northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger – another collapsed state would have afforded extremism with another power vacuum to fill.
Theory to practice From the WANEP policy brief: A period of instability could prove disastrous for other countries in the region…, already enmeshed in various levels of insecurity…. Burkina Faso’s political instability could provide more grounds for widespread insurgencies and rapid deterioration of human security in the region.… The huge presence of unemployed youths and small arms proliferation in a region with a history of civil wars provide a
“The worst thing we can do is think for a minute that we are not making an impact.” fertile recruiting ground for extremists. This sort of policy brief lies at the heart of one of WANEP’s core missions in West Africa: the coordination of an early warning and response network for conflict. The network is an early example of the ways WANEP co-founders Bombande and Sam Gbaydee Doe, MA ’98, worked to translate peacebuilding theory into on-the-ground results in a part of the world ravaged time and again by brutal wars. “Both of us who played a leading role in the founding of WANEP also found ourselves at EMU precisely because of its practice orientation,” recalls Bombande. “One of the things we have repeated and repeated is that at EMU it was not just knowledge and theory, it was its practice orientation. “EMU allowed us to rapidly bridge the gap between theory and practice, and that is what we wanted in West Africa.” In the theoretical sense, an early warning and response network is a set of processes and mechanisms by which people, organizations and governments can anticipate, identify and quickly respond to small conflicts before they escalate into bigger ones. As put into practice by WANEP, the structure is built on people across the region trained to monitor conditions and issues affecting them and their neighbors. There are now more than 260 of these monitors spread throughout the region (eight of them in Burkina Faso). They read the local papers, listen to the radio, follow the gossip at the market, and chat with their neighbors. Many of these monitors also maintain their own sub-networks of monitors who represent the entire community – men and women, young and old, members of whatever different ethnic and religious groups are present. WANEP runs this early warning network in partnership with ECOWAS, an intergovernmental organization made up of 15 West African nations. The network (formally called ECOWARN) is run out of the ECOWAS Commission headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, where WANEP’s liaison office to ECOWAS is located.1
Spotting nascent problems Using a detailed, web-based reporting template, the network’s monitors regularly report on points of friction within their communities. Suppose an argument over politics turns ugly in the market. The monitor in the area would send a report up the chain to the WANEP national office, which then passes all reports it receives to the liaison office and the ECOWARN situation room in Nigeria. Collectively, patterns can emerge and nascent problems can be identified before they turn into big and 1 WANEP first signed a Memorandum of Understanding with ECOWAS to be the “implementing partner” of the early warning network in 2004, and just recently renewed it for another five-year term.
Emmanuel Bombande, MA '02, immediate past executive director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding and one of its founders
very unpleasant surprises. “The whole system is built on people who are active participants,” says Bombande. “Every day we’re monitoring each country…. What we can begin to see, graphically, are things like rising political tensions.” The result: documents like the policy brief on Burkina Faso that warned of a deteriorating political situation seven months before the crisis came to a head. That policy brief alone wasn’t enough to avert violent conflict altogether. Tens of thousands of protesters battled police in the streets of Ouagadougou, parliament was set on fire, a dozen people were reported killed, and a military officer briefly appointed himself the head of state. But the response, informed by the early warning system, was both quick and focused. “Because of the prior work that had been done – with all the analysis, the early warning, the policy brief and the advocacy – what was significantly different in this situation was that [the response] did not take even hours. It did not take a full day. The entire region knew exactly what needed to be done,” recalls Bombande, who returned from Belgium several days later and plunged into the response effort.
PHOTO by Jon Styer
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Sam Gbaydee Doe, MA '98, co-founder with Bombande of WANEP
Comparatively peaceful transition Leaders from the United Nations, ECOWAS and civil society organizations, with WANEP playing an important role, were soon in Burkina Faso working to ensure that an interim civilian government could form and agree on a clear path to open elections in the near future. All too often in the past, Bombande says, people and institutions responding to crises in Africa have tended to “trip over one another.” In this case, however, the coordinated response at various levels, he continues, “brought an enormous pressure to bear on the military.” And it worked – by mid-November, the former Burkinabé ambassador to the United Nations was sworn in as the country’s transitional president. Full elections had been scheduled for October 2015. After two tense weeks, Bombande began to relax. The system bent, but it didn’t break. Violence broke out, but it was quickly contained. “We could have been talking about thousands of deaths,” says Bombande. “And we could have been talking about chaos on a regional scale. “Burkina Faso is simply inspirational. People now know that they can change [their government]…. I think this is a very good sign and that the early warning network has made a very significant difference.”2
History of WANEP and WAPI In 1998, after becoming one of the first students to earn a master’s degree from EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Sam Gbaydee Doe “left EMU fired up to translate a dream into a reality,” he told Peacebuilder in 2010. “I dreamed of a regional movement of civil society that would collaborate with regional intergovernmental bodies to restore not just stability in Africa but democratic freedom and prosperity,” said Doe, who is from Liberia. Back in West Africa, he connected with Bombande, who had 2 As the presidential election in Burkina Faso approaches on Oct. 11, 2015, there is still the potential for conflict.
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CJP research professor Lisa Schirch, an early teacher at WAPI
recently been working on mediation of tribal conflicts in his native Ghana (and who went on to earn a master’s degree from CJP in 2002). Together, the two men founded the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding, or WANEP, in late 1998. The group’s first operating funds came from a $200,000 grant from the nowclosed Winston Foundation for International Peace. One of the earliest programs of WANEP was aimed at women. In 1999, WANEP set up the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET). Doe had met a fellow Liberian, Leymah Gbowee, in whom he saw leadership potential in the face of a war that had decimated their country for more than a decade. As a result, WANEP hired Gbowee as its WIPNET representative in Liberia. “Her courage and leadership in mobilizing women as a WIPNET staffer earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011,” says Bombande, adding that the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” features extensive video footage of WIPNET borrowed from WANEP. (Gbowee joined Doe and Bombande in earning a master’s degree from CJP in 2007.) By 2000, WANEP had an annual budget of $1.2 million and 300 member groups from 14 West African countries. “The profound thing was the speed at which ordinary people mobilized for peace,” Doe told Peacebuilder. As interest in the new initiative grew quickly, however, the region’s peacebuilding needs became apparent. “We immediately discovered that there was a huge void in West Africa when you talked about knowledge, skills, capacity in conflict prevention and peacebuilding,” recalls Bombande. To begin filling that void, Doe and Bombande organized a series of practical peacebuilding skills trainings in the region – including larger events in both English- and French-speaking West Africa. Among the leaders were colleagues of Doe’s and Bombande’s from CJP, including professor Barry Hart and founding director John Paul Lederach. These trainings led, in 2002, to WANEP hosting the first official session of the West Africa Peacebuilding Institute (WAPI). Modeled after SPI, WAPI offered classes over a several-week period on a variety of conflict prevention and peacebuilding PHOTOS by Michael Sheeler (left) and Jon Styer (right)
Emmanuel Bombande, MA '02, WANEP head 2004-15, at WAPI 2013
topics. One of the teachers at the first WAPI was CJP research professor Lisa Schirch, who spent eight months in Ghana working with WANEP and developing the first training manual for its women’s group, WIPNET. (Current SPI director Bill Goldberg, who is married to Schirch, also worked with WANEP during that period.) CJP graduates Austin Onouha (from Nigeria), John Katunga Murhula (Kenya), and Gopar Tapkida (Nigeria) have all taught at WANEP. Since starting WAPI, “we have not looked back,” Bombande says. “Every year, there were new challenges that confronted us that required [us to] constantly develop different courses to suit the different threats that were very present in the region.” To date, more than 450 people have studied at WAPI – many of whom remain active participants in WANEP’s regional early warning network or other peacebuilding programs. WAPI has been held each year since 2002, with the exception of 2014, when the Ebola epidemic in West Africa prompted WANEP to postpone it until March 2015. Doe was WANEP’s first executive director, and served in that role until 2004, when he left to work for the United Nations. He now works for the United Nations Development Programme in New York City. Bombande became WANEP’s second executive director.
WANEP today In addition to coordinating ECOWARN and running the summer institute, WANEP supports over 500 member organizations in 15 countries, through its network of national offices in each country. It has an annual budget of $2 million (U.S.) and 22 employees at its headquarters in Ghana, plus 45 in its national-level offices. When “funding sources dried up in the informal spaces,” says Bombande – including the seed money provided by Mennonite Central Committee and grants from foundations – WANEP began to garner funding from European governments, including that of Austria, Sweden and Denmark. Governments want to be sure that they’re investing in a durable
The successor to Bombande, Chukwuemeka Eze, at WAPI 2013
institution, one that uses certain mechanisms and procedures, says Bombande: “Governments want to look at your institutional systems much more closely than your programs.” This means that WANEP now needs staffers with the administrative skills necessary to run the institution in a manner that satisfies its backers and to issue the necessary reports, in addition to staffers with the skills to launch grassroots initiatives, as Doe and Bombande had when they began WANEP 16 years ago. “I think it is time for a new generation to take it to the next level,” Bombande told Peacebuilder in late 2014. Within months, he had handed the reins of WANEP to Chukwuemeka Eze, who had been with the organization almost from the beginning and who proved himself capable of increasingly responsible roles. And Bombande moved temporarily to being a fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, joining for a while his old CJP mentor, John Paul Lederach. A few years ago, Bombande was feeling optimistic about the direction of West Africa: major advances in democratic governance were evident, and no civil wars had erupted since 2006, though there was post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010-11. Now, however, he feels sobered by the rise of extremism. He cites the Boko Haram movement in Nigeria (“a political scheme that has gone totally wrong”) and seeing formerly moderate people in Burkina Faso doing extreme things – “people who you never would have expected to go out on the street and to be yelling and saying outrageous things, including not caring for their own lives.” Yet Bombande thinks this wave of extremism should motivate peacebuilders rather than discourage them. It just means that peacebuilders need to work smarter and harder, connecting with each other for support: “The worst thing we can do is think for a minute that we are not making an impact. We have been making an impact, and what we need to do is to constantly re-think, reenergize ourselves, re-motivate ourselves, in terms of what more we must do that will respond to these global challenges.”
PHOTOS courtesy of WANEP
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Too many governments and large international organizations think it is sufficient to support the holding of democratic elections and the training of police and military to “keep the peace.”
Lessons from 16 years Bombande was interviewed by a Peacebuilder reporter during an October 2014 visit as part of an ECOWAS delegation to the United States to confer with the Office of the UN’s Under-Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide. As Bombande pondered the distance he had traveled from dreaming of a peacebuilding organization in West Africa to representing that well-established organization in top-level meetings around the world, he offered these reflections: With the United Nations Security Council “split down the middle,” peacebuilders cannot depend on the UN – or “on the global architecture” – to solve global crises, or even to prevent them. Instead peacebuilders must take the initiative to do this work themselves at the local, national and regional levels, interlinking with the experiences of other peacebuilders around the world and garnering international support whenever possible. But the day-to-day commitment and drive must be drawn from one’s own locality. “We [peacebuilders around the globe] must motivate each other.” Providing for everyone’s “human security” is a standard that needs to be met by political leaders everywhere, rather than cultivating their own political base on narrow racial, ethnic or religious lines, which is a prescription for future violent conflict. Women are gradually assuming their rightful leadership roles in peacebuilding. WANEP’s second-in-charge is now a woman, program director Levina Addae-Mensah. Bombande recalls recently watching another confident, skillful woman, Edwige Mensah, running a WANEP training session in Dakar, Senegal, and thinking that she hardly resembled the shy young woman who had ventured into a WANEP office 10 years previously. The understanding of what it takes to rebuild a country after it has been torn by war must change. Too many governments and large international organizations think it is sufficient to support the holding of democratic elections and the training of police and military to “keep the peace,” as was done in Liberia. But peace in Liberia and elsewhere can only be sustained if poverty and injustices are addressed, education built up, and healthcare provided. In short, underlying socio-economic structural issues must be addressed, with international support. 24
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Emmanuel Bombande, MA '02 (front, fourth from right), is flanked by his successor, Chukwuemeka Eze (black jacket), and Kwesi Ahwoi, then Ghana's interior minister, at the opening of WAPI 2013 at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra. John Katunga Murhula, MA '05, is on the far left of the photo.
WANEP maintains a database of what WAPI-trained people have done and are doing to make a difference on the local level. The bravery of WAPI people has been inspiring – many have walked between lines of confrontation to defuse tensions. As an indicator of the risk, one WAPI trainee was killed trying to persuade a renegade general in Côte d’Ivoire to surrender to a UN compound. But also in Côte d’Ivoire, WAPI people crossed hardened, military-patrolled neighborhood lines, separating Muslim and Christian districts, to record conciliatory messages from Muslim leaders and play the recordings to Christian leaders and vice versa. This eased the feeling of “never trust these people because you simply cannot have peace with them.” When Bombande looks back at the last 16 years of WANEP, he feels proud: “Can you imagine the situation if we did not do what we’ve been doing in peacebuilding?” Bombande says patience and persistence are necessary. “I would encourage all of us, particularly the younger ones going through the CJP community, to look at it in this perspective – to never doubt for one minute how their contribution is, to the larger extent, what is transforming our global community, rather than depending on the global architecture, which in itself currently is a challenge.” — Andrew Jenner PHOTO courtesy of WANEP
Emmanuel Bombande, MA '02, in the fall of 2014
‘I remember soldiers holding guns, forcing us to sing’ When he was 6 years old, Emmanuel Bombande’s parents sent him from their home in Accra, the capital of Ghana, to live and learn their culture with his grandmother in Bawku, a town in the country’s rural north. When he wasn’t in school, Bombande worked in the family’s peanut and millet fields and went hunting with his uncles. It was, in that sense, an idyllic way to grow up. But it was also a turbulent time in Ghana, and his town was not immune. Just after Bombande moved there as a young boy in 1966, Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown in a military coup. Bombande and his elementary school classmates were sent to the town soccer field where the army was celebrating the news. “I remember the soldiers brought out all the pictures of Nkrumah from the various government offices, poured kerosene on them and set them ablaze. I still remember that image, the fire and the soldiers holding guns and forcing us to sing,” he told a Ghanaian journalist in 2008. “I used to have nightmares about the violence. and that affected my studies…. The violence occupied my thoughts any time I wanted to study. As a result, learning became difficult for me.” Still, Bombande remained in Bawku through high school, playing on the school’s football (soccer) team and eventually
becoming the sports prefect. Even at his Catholic-run school, however, ethnic differences sometimes turned ugly. He recalls a fight erupting over a dance competition that had been held to encourage the ethnic groups to appreciate each other’s distinctive cultures. As a teenager, Bombande was a local leader of the Young Christian Students Movement. (Later, as a young adult, he became the Pan-African Coordinator of that movement.) After seeing an ethnically based shooting, Bombande knew he wanted to work for peace. By the time he left to study social science at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 1984, he’d embraced St. Francis of Assisi’s prayer: “Make me an instrument of your peace.” In 1990, that conviction led Bombande across the continent to Nairobi, Kenya, for a job with International Young Catholic Students. Four years later, he became a program officer for the Nairobi Peace Initiative (NPI).* At NPI, Bombande reported to director Hizkias Assefa (a founding faculty member of CJP, and NPI director from 1990 to 1997) on conflict mediation in various parts of Africa. One of the first conflicts he worked on with NPI was between warring ethnic groups in northern Ghana – allowing Bombande to put his peacebuilding skills to work in the place where violence in earlier decades first pushed him into the field. By 1998, Bombande returned to Ghana to co-found the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). After first serving as WANEP’s director of programs (where he continued to help mediate other ethnic conflicts in northern Ghana), Bombande became WANEP executive director in 2004. During that time he worked, taught and consulted with many other international and regional groups. Bombande has served as chair of the board of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, and in 2005, was honored (alongside former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan) with the Millennium Excellence Peace Award. In early 2015, after more than a decade leading WANEP, Bombande stepped down at age 54 and took a short-term fellowship at the Kroc Institute for International Peacebuilding at the University of Notre Dame. “I think it is time for a new generation to take [WANEP] forward,” he told Peacebuilder. “But I know I’ll be around in the background to mentor and to coach.” Much of the information on Emmanual Bombande’s early life was culled from an article by Augustina Tawiah published in The Junior Graphic, 2008. In March 2015, Bombande reviewed and confirmed the accuracy of this recapitulation of his life story. — Andrew Jenner
* The Nairobi Peace Initiative was birthed by Harold and Annetta Miller, both early '60s graduates of EMU who were then Mennonite Central Committee (MCC)’s representatives in Kenya. They employed Hizkias Assefa as NPI’s first director in 1990. Assefa has taught at SPI since the mid 1990s. The seed money for NPI came from MCC. To this day, NPI holds annual trainings in peacebuilding.
PHOTO by Jon Styer
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4 HMI’s peace trainings
1999 • INDIA
Promoting cross-faith civility, dignity and justice
“I’M NOT HERE TO BE A TOURIST,” I protested to Florina Benoit, MA ’04. “I just have 18 hours here. Wouldn’t it be better to relax here for a while?” I could get away with whining to Florina – we had known each other for 12 years, ever since we were both graduate students at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Now she was my guide on a whirlwind trip to India for Peacebuilder magazine. Earlier, I had tried to keep up with Florina as she wove through the crowd around our jam-packed train. I hadn’t slept soundly on my thin plastic-covered mattress on a top bunk – with other sleepers breathing heavily nearby – as we traveled eight hours north from Chennai to Hyderabad to visit her former workplace, the Henry Martyn Institute (HMI). At daybreak, I had climbed down from my bunk, trying not to disturb anyone, and stood by an open doorway near the toilet at the end of our train car, absorbing the beauty of the south Indian countryside for an hour or so. I felt no inner struggle – at that time, I knew nothing about the displacement of rural-dwellers for resource extraction and the destruction of scenes like the ones we were passing. From the windows of the automobile that picked us up at the Hyderabad train station, I enjoyed low-stress sightseeing. The ride took us alongside the city’s 1,200-acre lake, with a 60-foot-tall statue of the Gautama Buddha towering on a small island, and past awakening streetside businesses. But now, in the late afternoon, my energy was flagging. I was baffled as to why Florina wanted me to leave the institute’s pastoral premises, where I felt a strong urge to nap in my comfortable bed in a private room provided by our hosts. But she was persuasive and I relented. 26
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That’s how I found myself on a stone platform after climbing 149 narrow, winding steps of the Charminar mosque-monument. I had ascended through one of four mammoth minarets, connected to each other by four grand archways.
Charminar’s significance Charminar is smack in the middle of what’s called “The Old City” of Hyderabad, where the majority of the residents are Muslim. As Florina and I gazed over a packed street scene below Charminar, a smiling guy who looked to be in his 20s invited himself to be our tour guide. He explained that the massive mosque visible on the right side of the crowded street was Mecca Masjid, dating to the same ruler as the one who built Charminar. The Masjid got its name from foundational bricks composed of soil brought from Mecca. The structure can hold 10,000 worshipers at a time. At left along the street below was the Government Ayurvedic Hospital, housed in a colonial-era complex that was crumbling but still lovely. Judging by its name, the services within this complex were based on a Hindu-yogic medical tradition dating back to the Vedic age of India (ca. 1750–500 BCE). When Florina and I exited Charminar, we passed an ornately decorated, tent-looking structure pressed against one side of Charminar’s massive foundation. This turned out to be Bhagyalakshmi, a Hindu shrine dedicated to the Goddess Lakshmi. This shrine apparently began with the placement of a small statue in Lakshmi’s honor in the 1960s. The visit to Charminar worked on me, as Florina knew it would: I began to grasp how closely Hindus and Muslims bump against each other in Hyderabad – a city where Muslims were in
Florina Benoit, MA '04, is at the water's edge (her arm extended) in this 2014 photo of villagers engaged in a water-improvement project.
the majority before 1948 and now are a minority, except in the Old City – and how tenuously peace has been maintained (or not) over the last half century. Later background reading revealed these violent conflicts in Hyderabad: In September 1983, during a religious festival, certain Hindu organizations put up big cloth banners in the Old City calling for India to be declared a Hindu republic. Riots developed in which 45 people were killed. In December 1990, rioting raged almost two weeks – believed to have been initiated by non-locals for the national political gain of a particular party – which destroyed countless homes and businesses and cost the lives of hundreds of Hindus and Muslims. The assaults were vicious: amputations, disembowelments and rapes. On May 18, 2007, a bomb exploded inside the Mecca Masjid at the time of Friday prayers, killing at least 13 people and injuring dozens. Under cover of night on November 1, 2012, Hindu temple officials began to do some construction at the base of Charminar, saying they were simply adding decorations to their shrine. Police stopped the non-permitted construction. Muslim-Hindu tensions rose. Two weeks later, violence broke out after Friday prayers at the Mecca Masjid, when Muslims began streaming towards the Hindu shrine at Charminar. Police intercepted them. Streetfighting ensued. Florina murmured to me that the Hindu shrine looked bigger each time she visited Charminar. She, a Christian, viewed it as a provocation to Muslims who treasure the Persian-Islamic cultural and religious heritage embodied by Charminar. Our Charminar tour set the stage for a visit that evening to an Old City center for community gatherings and vocational train-
ings, sponsored by the Henry Martyn Institute, directed by staffer Abdul Majid Shaik. Majid, a conservatively dressed Muslim who is a former social work student of Florina’s, showed us classes of males working on computer hardware and networking, refrigeration/AC mechanics, and typewriting. He said such vocational evening classes attract young Hindu and Muslim men from the neighborhood – 150-200 of them annually, from early teens in the typing classes up to early thirties in the other classes. During the day, he said, girls and women from the neighborhood came to religiously mixed classes, often sewing or embroidering together. They generate a bit of income sewing clothes for neighbors and friends. This, Majid explained, makes the men in their families more willing to let them come to the center. They also can take classes in literacy, typing and hair styling. Separately, the men and women learn about HIV-AIDS – a major health issue in Hyderabad – and have access to an HMIsupported health clinic staffed by a physician and a nurse. In addition to learning useful skills, all students were guided to talk to each other about their lives and religious practices, and to respectfully share parts of each other’s celebrations and festivities. Mixed-religion picnics and other outings are occasionally organized. Thus HMI lives out its stated goal: “To work in riot-prone areas on ways to build supportive and sustaining relationships between communities through development and empowerment, leading towards peace and cessation of communal violence.” HMI publications contain heartening stories of the way residents in the immediate neighborhood have learned to protect each other during violent flare-ups in the Old City, such as this one: “Three Muslim women, bowing down to perform their evening prayer, hear the anguished cry of their neighboring Hindu sisters and their children, and rush out to take them to shelter.” Between 1971 and 2002, the Henry Martyn Institute occupied office space on a busy thoroughfare in Hyderabad. For most of those years, it was called the Henry Martyn Institute of Islamic Studies, focused on interfaith dialogue. The 1990 riots catalyzed PHOTO by Debin Victor
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“Intellectual dialogue alone is of little consequence.” the institute into reconsidering its role in Hyderabad. In 1999, the name was changed to the Henry Martyn Institute: Centre for Research, Interfaith Relations and Reconciliation, reflecting its fresh focus.1 In 2002, following successful fundraising, Henry Martyn moved to five acres on the outer edge of Hyderabad, where it has established a retreat-center atmosphere, with a cluster of modern buildings amid well-tended grass, flowers, trees and a pond. It feels like an oasis of peace alongside the crowded bustle of its home city. In the preface of a peacebuilding manual published by HMI in 2007, former institute director Dr. Andreas D’Souza described HMI’s post-1990s ecumenical focus this way: … to provide space for Hindus, Christians and Muslims to build relationships; to make available conflict transformation workshops in violence-prone areas such as Nagaland, Manipur, Kashmir and Gujarat; to make possible women’s interfaith journeys, causing women from different countries, races, creeds and castes to travel together to understand what interfaith relations and conflict transformation mean from woman’s perspective. Andreas also wrote about deciding, after the 1990 riots, that “intellectual dialogue alone is of little consequence if it does not help in transforming the lives of the dialogue partners.” He wanted the institute to add a “praxis” (i.e., practice) component to its academic study.2 As a result, Andreas and former associate director Diane D’Souza focused on development work in the riot-affected slums of the Old City of Hyderabad in the 1990s – initiating and encouraging vocational training for men and women in mixedreligion classes, healthcare outreach, and mixed-religion schooling for children. Stephen Gonsalves, MA ’03, an HMI board member who then represented Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), encouraged the institute to complement its praxis of development with the praxis of conflict transformation.
Embracing conflict transformation The idea seriously took root in 1999 with the arrival of Ron Kraybill, one of the founding faculty members of EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. With special funding from an MCC donor in Canada, Kraybill was able to settle his family in 1 In its earliest decades – in the 1930s, 40s and 50s – the institute existed to acculturate Christian missionaries from Europe and North America who were intent on spreading the gospel among Muslims. Based in six cities at different times, it served an evangelical purpose of some kind through the 1970s. Today HMI is directed by Rev. Dr. Packiam T. Samuel, who makes it clear in an interview with Peacebuilder that HMI harbors no proselytizing tendencies, instead promoting understanding of, and respect for, the positive attributes of India’s religions and ethnicities. 2 The information in the Henry Martyn peacebuilding manual will feel familiar to those who know another manual originally connected to Kraybill’s teachings, the Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual, published in five editions since 1989 by MCC (the latest issued in 2008).
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Hyderabad and to use a year-long sabbatical to set up a conflict transformation team within the Henry Martyn Institute. Staffers Diane D’Souza and Ramesh Prakashvelu quickly absorbed Kraybill’s teachings, integrated them with their own experiences, and began putting them into action. They especially liked the concept of experiential and reciprocal learning, wherein workshop participants tap their own life experiences, play active roles in the workshop, and are teachers as well as learners. In short, everyone learns from each other, including the facilitators from the participants. From 2004 to 2011, HMI offered a post-graduate diploma in peacebuilding that could be earned in nine months. (HMI’s academic department continues to offer a nine-month diploma program with focus on Islam and interfaith relations.) Today, intensive on-campus training for 30 participants occurs via the South Asia Peace Workshop, which runs in the early fall for a week or more (depending on the year and the coursework offered) in a manner similar to SPI.
The Northeast From its earliest years, HMI's conflict transformation team wasn't content staying close to home. Staffers gave trainings in distant conflict-ridden regions of India, especially its Northwest. India’s troubled Northeast floats apart from the India featured in tourist brochures – it’s like a huge balloon connected by a slender land thread to the Indian subcontinent. The region consists of Sikkim, plus seven contiguous states: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. In three of these states, the majority of people identify themselves as Christians, a legacy of missionaries in the late 1800s. Indigenous (“animist”) religious practices prevail in most places, even among many who call themselves Christians, Hindus or Muslims. These states comprise 209 tribes, speaking 175 languages mostly belonging to the Tibeto-Burmese category. “The region is known for the longest insurgency and ethnic violence in India,” says the 2007 HMI peacebuilding manual, from which the foregoing statistics were taken. “There are over 100 armed groups in the region carrying various identities and espousing various liberation ideologies.” The start of HMI’s work in the Northeast can be traced to a three-week workshop on conflict transformation in Darjeeling in May 2000, facilitated by Kraybill, Diane D’Souza and Ramesh. The Naga Women’s Union Manipur then invited them to work in the Northeast. HMI staff thus began working in Manipur (from 2000), Nagaland (2001), Assam (2002), and Arunachal Pradesh (2002). “We began by building relations with key social, human rights and church-based peace organizations,” says Ramesh. Two CJP graduates – Aküm Longchari, MA ’00, a newspaper editor in Nagaland, and Babloo Loitongbam, MA ’06, a human rights worker in Manipur – were invited to workshops “as resource persons to share their insights, knowledge and wisdom related to peace, reconciliation and human rights work,” Ramesh explains. On the CJP alumni website, Aküm described one of the region’s peace initiatives this way: In 2008, I joined with other representatives of civil society organizations to form the Naga Forum for Reconciliation, with support from
The Henry Martyn Institute (HMI) sponsors evening typing classes for religiously mixed groups of adolescent boys in a low-income area.
Catering to young men, electronics classes organized by HMI bring together neighborhood Muslims and Hindus to interact peacefully.
members of the Society of Friends in Britain and members of the American Baptist Church. The forum seeks to reconcile various Naga armed groups on the basis of the historical and political rights of the Nagas. The forum has been meeting with militant groups … and the groups are moving away from violence and mistrust toward fragile progress and decreased violence. On the same CJP website, Babloo summed up the challenges peacebuilders face in the Northeast: The cycle of violence keeps the region in turmoil. There are a number of insurgency groups vying for autonomy or outright independence. This in turn makes the [Indian] military use harsh measures. Great economic difficulties drive desperate people to join the insurgencies and the cycle continues.
Ashok Gladston Xavier, MA ’04) and their home in Chennai. As did Florina before him, Ramesh heads the praxis programs of the Henry Martyn Institute. My first impression of Ramesh wasn’t of him – it was of his black T-shirt, featuring a dignified-looking American Indian man wearing an eagle-feathered headdress. From beneath a tan-woolen visor, Ramesh’s hair flowed loosely below his shoulders. He was not one who would blend into a crowd. Ramesh holds a master’s degree in international peace studies from the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame. He’s been doing peace work for 16 years, often in sensitive situations that can (and do) regularly explode into conflict. Four full-time staffers and two associate facilitators report to him. Collectively, they train about 450 people per year. I soon realized Ramesh’s appearance heralded his passion for indigenous peoples – for their connections to nature, for their spirituality, for their relatively egalitarian ways of living, for their need for justice. For survival. A month earlier, Ramesh had directed the ninth session of the South Asia Peace Workshop, which centered this time upon three topics: the UN Declaration on Rights of the Indigenous People; the relationship between respect for individual/group rights and peace; and appropriate development alternatives for indigenous people. Called “tribals” in the Northeast and adivasis in other regions, the indigenous peoples of India have been described as the most exploited people in that country.
Leadership from Florina to Ramesh Two years after completing her MA at CJP, Florina Benoit joined HMI as associate director of praxis, responsible for four teams: conflict transformation, community development, women’s interfaith journey, and tsunami relief and rehabilitation. Florina shepherded to publication A Manual for Facilitating Peace Building Processes and brought in playback and interactive theater and puppetry, which complemented the arts-based work HMI had been doing through the visual arts, especially paintings.3 In her 30 months at HMI, Florina’s conflict transformation staffers led about 30 trainings per year – reaching about 600 people annually – largely in the Northeast, but also in Kashmir (with the India-Pakistan conflict and its effects) and Gujarat (west coast location of recurring riots and massacres between Hindus and Muslims). In all her trainings, “I found people were hungry for ways to emerge from the cycles of violence in which they felt trapped,” says Florina.“The STAR approach [addressing the underlying trauma that fuels violence] proved to be highly useful to the trainees.” While employed at HMI, Florina did doctoral work at Osmania University. After completing her PhD in 2008, she resigned from HMI to return to her husband (social work professor 3 The two articles dealing with playback and interactive theater in the 2008 MCC Conflict Transformation and Restorative Justice Manual were written by Florina Benoit and Ashok Gladston Xavier (her husband).
Struggles over natural resources “Nobody likes to have their land stolen,” said Ramesh, by way of explaining why tribals throughout India are distressed and choosing to resist in some manner. “Successive Indian governments have lined up with corporate forces to grab the mountains, forests and seas – to extract resources regardless of the people living there – regardless of their ancestral rights and constitutional protections. And if the people resist their dispossession, they are often labeled as leftists or antidevelopment.” Ramesh and his team are trying to offer tools for transformation that are alternatives to taking up arms. Throughout much of the Indian subcontinent, the possibility of warfare lurks just PHOTOS by Bonnie Price Lofton
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“In spite of 60 years of armed struggle, we have not gotten anywhere. We can be nonviolent and continue the struggle in other ways.” beneath the surface. Immediately north of Hyderabad, for example, is the “Red Corridor.” This is a swath of central India where Maoist guerrilla fighters known as Naxalites are most active. Of India’s 84 million tribals, 70% of them live in this Red Corridor, where they are facing massive displacement and communal destruction in India’s rush to extract coal, iron ore, limestone, dolomite, and bauxite, according to National Geographic (April 2015). Dams for hydroelectric power are also being constructed. Amid this widespread extraction, the Naxalites combine intimidation, youthful soldiering, and populist appeals to flesh out their ranks of fighters. “Rather than reduce the imbalance between the rich and poor, mineral wealth has exacerbated the divide, adding pollution, violence and displacement to the daily struggle of those whose livelihood is locked up in the land,” said National Geographic.
Diverse team The five who make up the core conflict transformation team at HMI reflect the diversity with which they must grapple in their work. Ramesh is a Tamil with indigenous sympathies, Robinson Thapa is a Christian tribal member from the Northeast of India, Jalaja Devi is a Hindu woman from Kerala, and Najma Sanai and Arshia Ayub (both associate facilitators) are Muslim women from Andhra Pradesh. Veteran facilitator Robinson belongs to the Tangkhul tribe, one of 16 tribes in Manipur. He saw his father killed. Close friends and relatives were raped and tortured, if not killed. “I grew up in a place where violence seemed to be the only way to address the issues that we faced.” He himself once believed in armed struggle. Out of curiosity, Robinson attended a workshop in Manipur on conflict transformation and peacebuilding and got hooked on the ideas – because “in spite of 60 years of armed struggle, we have not gotten anywhere. I now believe we can be nonviolent and continue the struggle in other ways.”4 Najma Sanai has a counseling practice in Hyderabad, where she particularly serves Muslim women like herself and seeks to improve parenting skills. She started on the road to being an associate facilitator at HMI when Ron Kraybill took her aside during one of his HMI trainings in 1990-2000 and said, “You have a gift for facilitating conflict transformation. Would you want to be a staffer here?” She felt honored. “Ron’s facilitation skills were amazing. We looked to him as our guru.” For years, she worked at getting peer mediation programs and other cultural shifts into the schools, but such change, she came to realize, must be sought within the system. “The schools would never give us the time we needed. They said, ‘We can’t spare teachers for two days,’ even for just two- or three-hour sessions. 4 When this Peacebuilder was at pre-press stage in April, Florina Benoit conveyed the distressing news that Robinson Thapa had died after falling ill while conducting a workshop in Imphal, the capital of his home state.
I learned an important lesson – the time, space and inclination must be there for a program to take off.” Today, Najma works in both the praxis and academic wings of HMI. On the academic side, she regularly lectures on Islam and women’s rights, trying to dispel what she regards as myths pertaining to the religious basis of the subjugation of women.
The results? Ramesh is not given to boasting. So when I asked him what the Henry Martyn Institute can show for its 16 years of conflict transformation work, he said modestly, “The amount of hatred and stress has come down in the areas where we’ve worked.” Then he added, “People have stopped one village from burning another village because they knew it would become cyclical. We’ve seen those kinds of changes. But have we been able to stop something big? Not so far.” It’s not that Ramesh doubts the value, the ultimate impact, of what his team does. It’s just that “you have to invest in the long term – it cannot be done on a one-time or short-term basis.” Beginning in 2002, for example, HMI staffers worked patiently and persistently for two years to bring 42 leaders from different communities and tribes in the Northeast together for the first time to talk about their common problems and possible solutions. The logjam was broken by women in the communities, Ramesh said, who were the first to see the possibilities of such a meeting. Now he sees increasing numbers of young people – some from human rights organizations, some from women’s groups – who want to collaborate on peacebuilding. HMI’s conflict transformation work over the years has been largely supported by grants from church-based development and relief organizations, including Bread for the World-Germany, Mennonite Central Committee, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Church of Sweden, the Church of Scotland, and KAIROS – Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. A handful of governmental agencies, such as the United States Institute for Peace and the Canadian High Commission, have also contributed. When Ramesh and his team aren’t doing trainings or interventions (or preparing materials to do these – everything is customized to suit the context), they’re preparing reports for their funders or writing applications for further funding. They feel challenged to communicate the necessity of culture-sensitive, region-specific, participatory approaches to trainings that aim at empowering as many people as possible to do peacebuilding in their own ways, adapted to their own environments. This is not something that can be accomplished quickly. Of the five proposals written for 2014-15, two yielded funding for HMI’s conflict transformation work. “It may take 20 to 50 more years – or beyond my lifetime – to see the results of our work,” says Ramesh. “But if we do our work conscientiously, our descendants will benefit from its long-term effects.” — Bonnie Price Lofton
Ramesh Prakashvelu (seated at left) was the successor to CJP alumna Florina Benoit (right) as associate director of praxis at the Henry Martyn Institute. Between them is Najma Sanai, an associate facilitator at HMI. Standing is Robinson Thapa, a core HMI team member, who suddenly fell ill while conducting a training in his home state of Manipur. He died in April 2015, five months after this photo at HMI.
What Ramesh learned from Ron Kraybill
6. If there is an “elephant” in the room, acknowledge it; if there are important things that are unspoken, speaking about these things will help.
7. “Energizers” (lively exercises as breaks in the workshop) are important.
8. When you do brainstorming, don’t judge the ideas people contribute. Let them be registered for consideration.
When Ramesh Prakashvelu, the Henry Martyn Institute’s associate director of praxis, was asked what he learned from Ron Kraybill, a former CJP professor who spent 1999-2000 on sabbatical at HMI, Ramesh quickly recited this list of 14 takeaways. In Ramesh’s words, but in no particular order:
1. Early on, Ron taught us, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything will look like a nail.”
2. How to organize a participatory and empowering workshop, centering around attentive listening and allowing space for different perspectives and values.
3. The importance of a posted “activity sheet,” so people can see what they can expect to learn and how long it will take. They can see their questions added as we go along and they can see notes on what we’ve done.
4. Always cover the importance of confidentiality in the workshops – that is, what occurs should not go outside these walls.
5. We all have our biases – none of us is objective – so we need to beware of our own biases. We need to put them out on the table or leave them out of the room, in order to do our best to reflect the views of the people in the room.
9. How to write effective role plays that elicit empathy and let people put themselves in others’ shoes. Now we are able to create role plays on the spot – it was drilled into us.
10. The importance of working together as a team and not being “experts” who come and go in the room. We facilitators are all present from beginning to the end, regardless of who is the lead facilitator at a particular time. And we always sit together and debrief at the end of each day.
11. Being willing to change, to adapt what we planned, based on the needs of the participants and the flow of the workshop. Always maintaining awareness and making adjustments, as needed.
12. Having respect for the people in the workshops. Choosing to walk with them – rather than exercising power over them – and acknowledging that we are all learners, we’re all doing the best we can.
13. Lose your ego. Ron taught us, “Either you can work for solutions, or you can work for credit.”
14. Most importantly, trust your own resources – don’t parrot what other facilitators do. I, as a Tamil, was told, “Your culture, language and religion can contribute as much to peacebuilding as they do to conflict,” so I started digging for Tamil peacebulding practices and I found them.
PHOTO by Bonnie Price Lofton
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API 2000 • SOUTH AFRICA Planting peace clubs in African schools
WEEKS OF XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS in spring 2015 on migrants living in South Africa deeply affected Mulanda Jimmy Juma, though he was not threatened personally. Not this time.1 Juma is a migrant to South Africa from elsewhere on the continent, like many of those attacked in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra and in Durban in March and April. In the 1990s, Juma had fled thousands of miles from his violence-torn home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to arrive in South Africa. But this time, as a trained and experienced peacebuilder, Juma knew some methods to address the violence rather than to simply flee from it. First, after the attacks began, Juma phoned the prime minister of the Zulu kingdom, whom Juma calls “Inyosi,” and asked him 1 Dr. Mulanda Jimmy Juma coordinates the Peace Studies Programme at St. Augustine College in Johannesburg, South Africa, and directs the Africa Peacebuilding Institute, an SPI-like initiative based at St. Augustine and funded by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Juma holds a PhD in politics, human rights and sustainability from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy and a master of commerce in peace studies and conflict resolution from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. Previously, he coordinated the Dag Hammarskjöld Centre for Peace, Good Governance and Human Rights in Zambia. He also worked for MCC as its regional peace advisor for southern Africa from 2009 through 2012. In this last role, he followed Dr. Carl Stauffer, currently on the faculty of CJP and co-director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, who was MCC’s regional peace advisor from 2000 to 2009. Juma and Stauffer are co-teaching “Justice in Transition: Restorative and Indigenous Applications in Post-war Contexts” at SPI 2015.
to urge the Zulu king to publicly call for an end to the attacks on foreigners. Juma had been a guest at the king’s recent wedding. Moreover, Juma was friends with Inyosi, who had participated in the 2014 session of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute alongside Juma. Being an advisor to the king, Inyosi acted upon Juma’s phone call. Second, Juma headed to the violence-affected areas of Johannesburg to “get first-hand information and see what was going on.” He then wrote a widely disseminated opinion piece where he called for a country-wide education campaign on how South Africans have benefited from their ties to other Africans. He also called for South Africa to lead the way in addressing factors underlying huge refugee populations across the continent and the victimization of refugees. A month after the attacks had subsided, Juma held a day-long training workshop on “practical responses to xenophobia” at St. Augustine College in Johannesburg. Juma came with his own successful response nine years earlier to xenophobia in Lusaka, Zambia. In that year (2006), after increasingly vicious actions against migrant refugees in Lusaka, Juma and two others associated with the Dag HammarskjÖld Peace Centre at the Mindolo Ecumenical Foundation reached out to Zambians living alongside refugees and persuaded some of them to sit with representative refugees to “talk about issues affecting the community as a whole,” said Juma. The Zambians spoke of feeling displaced and disrespected by those who had moved in. “They’re boastful, they don’t respect our
Carl Stauffer (left), currently on the faculty of CJP and co-director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice, was MCC’s regional peace advisor from 2000 to 2009. Mulanda Jimmy Juma was Stauffer's successor in the MCC role and in leading the Africa Peacebuilding Institute.
culture, they’re crooks, they bring disease,” were some of the comments Juma and his co-facilitators heard. From the refugees, they heard that Zambians “behave like whites and are not welcoming, treating us like crooks.” The peace facilitators led the two groups to listen to each other’s stories and then, eventually, to do some activities together, such as making and sharing peanut butter. The effort was hugely successful – destructive conflicts subsided in that community. The group grew from 10 people to 20. In the group were some “ring leaders,” who went and shared what they had learned and experienced with their followers. “In an African context, when you are able to convince the leaders and when those leaders speak, people listen,” said Juma.
Peace Clubs One Zambian, a participant in the original group, was a schoolteacher who took the idea of facilitated storytelling and shared activities into his high school, where the initiative was called the “Peace Club.” Peace clubs have now spread to 40 schools in Lusaka and adjacent Livingstone Province and are in schools in other countries, including South Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana and Uganda. “In our experience, the peace club children grow to become the leaders in their schools,” Juma said. Funding from Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has permitted the clubs to develop a curriculum, train adult mentors, and promote themselves.
At the 2014 session of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API), three peace club mentors – Issa Sadi of Zambia, Zamani Ndlovu of Zimbabwe, and Joan Alty, who works for MCC in South Africa – led a popular five-day module on how to set up and run peace clubs, including how to attract a broad spectrum of students and address bullying. It was the fourth consecutive year that API offered this module, preparing a total of 102 people to be trainers in their own contexts. The 2015 session of API (its 15th consecutive year) is expected to attract nearly 50 participants representing nearly 20 nationalities (mostly from Africa) for intensive educational modules on seven topics, including “Introduction to Conflict Transformation,” taught explicitly from an African perspective, and “Trauma Awareness, Healing and Reconciliation,” offering skills that can be applied immediately. Juma has led API since 2011. When Juma first attended API in 2002 (after meeting Carl Stauffer, MA ’02, then a MCC worker who led API), most of its facilitators were still coming from North America, usually from EMU. Founded in 2000 by Stauffer and other MCC workers from the U.S. and Canada, API was initially held annually at the Mindola Ecumenical Foundation in Kitwe, a city in northern Zambia that is not readily accessible for travellers from other countries. Zambia also required “study visas” that added to participants’ costs. As the leadership of API gradually shifted to experienced peacebuilders from various parts of Africa, they began to ponder where to locate API to make it more sustainable. PHOTO by Michael Sheeler
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“The big gap between the rich and the poor doesn’t allow South Africa to heal from the past.” “We wanted to ensure API’s future stability, ideally housed in an institution that would ‘own’ it,” said Juma. “We needed access to conference rooms, housing and catering [food].” The organizers also hoped to attract some participants who could pay for their own studies, instead of almost all participants being subsidized by MCC, limiting API’s potential size and reach.
Shifting to Johannesburg South Africa’s relatively stable economy, inspiring history of overturning the apartheid regime, and extensive airline, train and bus services – plus the strong interest of St. Augustine College in Johannesburg to host API – all factored into API’s move from Kitwe to Johannesburg in 2013. The cost of API remained modest in 2014 – $400 (U.S.) for five days of training, all meals and six nights accommodation. “API is really a no-brainer for us,” said Nicholas Rowe, St. Augustine’s academic dean and acting president, who taught at API when it was in Zambia in 2006 and 2007. “API is the perfect fit for St. Augustine.” As a Catholic-founded college (the only one in South Africa), its mission is to promote “ethical leadership, dignity of the human person and the common good.” At St. Augustine, Rowe and Juma started a BA (honors) program in peace studies in 2014-15, with view of adding degree programs in peace studies that will eventually go through the doctoral level. Rowe said they hope to retain the practice-based ethos of API. API has close links with a number of other peacebuilding institutes in Africa. The Great Lakes Peacebuilding Institute in Burundi was started in 2004 by alumni of API, as was the Reconcile Peace Institute in South Sudan in 2009.2 Juma shaped the curricula for both institutes.
Violence against migrants Looking at the South African context in the spring of 2015, overt violence erupted in areas where unemployment is particularly high (up to 80% unemployed or underemployed, according to some statisticians) and street-crime is rampant. As Juma knows from experience, it doesn’t take much for frustrated people 2 These institutes receive funding from MCC, as well as from other faithbased organizations. These institutes, plus the Nairobi Peace Institute (also a beneficiary of MCC support), often use the same instructors rotationally. CJP faculty who have taught or consulted at more than one peacebuilding center in Africa are Barry Hart, Vernon Jantzi, Lisa Schirch and Carl Stauffer. CJP alumni who have taught at more than one include: Babu Ayindo of Kenya, MA ’98; Alfiado Zunguza of Mozambique, MA ’99; Fidele Lumeya of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MA ’00; Krista Rigalo, MA ’00, of the United States; Gopar Tapkida of Nigeria, MA ’01; Emmanuel Bombande of Ghana, MA ’02; and John Katunga Murhula of Kenya, MA ’05. Two SPI alumni work with Reconcile, which is under the New Sudan Council of Churches: Milcah Lalam and Dele Emmanuel.
(particularly male young adults) to seek scapegoats, especially if someone in a leadership position gives them an excuse to do so. On March 20, the Zulu monarch in South Africa, Goodwill Zwelithini, criticized foreign workers, using these words, according to Al Jazeera: “Let us pop our head lice,” he said. “We must remove ticks and place them outside in the sun. We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and be sent back.” Zwelithini later said his words were taken out of context and mistranslated, but within days South Africans in impoverished communities were attacking stores and street stands owned by those they perceived as foreigners, accusing them of taking jobs away from South Africans and engaging in criminal activities. Sandra Ngwanya, a chicken seller from Zimbabwe living in Alexandra, said her neighbors told her (as reported on the Pan-African News Wire): ‘’We are going to go door to door, taking your stuff and beating you. So we want you to go back to your country.’’ Though she was married to a South African miner, away on a job site outside Johannesburg, and had lived in South Africa since 2006, she fled with thousands of others to one of a half-dozen camps run by a disaster-response NGO. This violence echoed a similar period in 2008, when antiimmigrant riots in South Africa took the lives of about 60 people. In both situations, church and government leaders pleaded for restraint and tolerance.
Lessons to be drawn Pondering the reasons for the violence, Juma pointed to structural problems in South Africa. “The big gap between the rich and the poor doesn’t really allow South Africa to heal from the past. Poverty is one of the major sources of violence in this country. The concept of reconciliation needs to be stretched to cover the empowerment of the weak and the poor, especially with improved education.” Juma’s pastor – who is also an API advisor and an alumnus of SPI 2010 – is Simon Lerefolo, whose “His People Church” has grown from 25 people a decade ago to 3,000 people in his mixedrace, mixed-income congregation in Johannesburg. Lerefolo, Juma and Stauffer all firmly believe and teach that if personal relationships are formed, if people from all walks of life come to view each other as brothers and sisters under God – or at least as something other than enemies – they will naturally turn their attention to mutually solving destructive structural issues. This is API’s underlying philosophy. These men point to the long, mostly unknown history of quiet meetings that helped end the apartheid regime.3 The famous talks are those involving Nelson Mandela in his final year as a prisoner in 1989-90. But, actually, church and other civil society organizations had been facilitating meetings since the early 1980s between representatives of Mandela’s African National Congress (labeled by the United States and Britain as a terrorist group in those days) and leading Afrikaners (including those in the white-supremacy ruling party, the National Party). These meetings were often held outside of South Africa. By the count of one historian, there were 3 Other factors that contributed to ending apartheid included international boycotts of South Africa that worsened its economy, and threats and fears of worsening internal violence leading to a nationwide bloodbath.
"His People Church" pastor Simon Lerefolo, SPI '10, and Mulanda Jimmy Juma, director of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API), pose on the grounds of St. Augustine College in Johannesburg, a Catholic institution which has hosted API since 2013.
167 meetings held in foreign venues from 1983 to 2000.4 H.W. van der Merwe, an Afrikaner raised in the Dutch Reformed Church who became a Quaker as an adult, is an excellent example of someone in civil society who worked assiduously, largely behind-the-scenes, to end apartheid. In 1968, he founded what became known as The Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University of Cape Town.5 By the 1980s, van der Merwe was traveling regularly to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Sweden and England to meet in-exile African National Congress (ANC) leaders to assess their openness to talking with those opposing them. In 1984, for example, van der Merwe began meeting with members of the ANC executive committee in Lusaka, Zambia, leading to meetings between them and Afrikaner newspaper editors, according to his memoir, Peacemaking in South Africa: A Life in Conflict Resolution. Van der Merwe also met Mandela in prison that year, four years before secret talks began between Mandela and representatives of the ruling regime. “Well over 1,200 diverse South Africans ... went on an outward mission to enter dialogue with the ANC in exile in a search to overcome the escalating conflict inside South Africa,” wrote Michael Savage in his online chronology of the meetings.6 4 From www.sahistory.org.za/article/chronology-meetings-betweensouth-africans-and-anc-exile-1983-2000-michael-savage. 5 Ron Kraybill, a founding faculty member of CJP, was the director of training at the Centre for Conflict Resolution from 1989 to 1995 (called the Centre for Intergroup Studies until 1991) in a supportive role to H.W. van der Merwe until the latter stepped down as executive director in 1992, fully retiring in 1994. 6 See footnote #4.
These “diverse South Africans” included business people, students and academics from universities, lawyers, women’s and writers’ groups, soccer and rugby associations, and charitable foundations. In those meetings on foreign soil, South Africans of all shades came to know each other as humans – seeking to put aside differences, fears and bitterness in order to find ways to make peace with each other. In some cases, they engaged in a kind of dressrehearsal for the future formal negotiations. Inside the country, “church leaders quietly facilitated retreat gatherings for the three years of national peace talks [1991-94], bringing together public leaders from all political parties,” said Carl Stauffer. “These interactions were strictly for the purposes of personal storytelling and relationship-building across all political divides. “Kept out of the glaring lights of the media, many of us believe these behind-the-scenes encounters had a powerful staying effect in keeping the otherwise divisive peace negotiations from splintering into civil war,” he added. Now that API is in South Africa, Juma hopes to gather these lessons into a practical pedagogy that can be applied more widely. In essence, API is trying to live out Nelson Mandela’s well-known saying, “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.”
Juma’s journey to peacebuilding Mulanda Jimmy Juma knows what it’s like to be attacked, to hide and to flee, as have hundreds of thousands of fellow migrants in the face of possible death across Africa. Juma’s father, Juma Lubambo M’smbya III, was a respected, PHOTO by Bonnie Price Lofton
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enlightened chief of a Congolese village within a region that was The rebels lowered their guns and said, “We know your family.” a colony of Belgium until independence in 1960. The region then Meanwhile (though Juma didn’t know this until later), both became part of the “République du Congo,” renamed “Zaire” the government forces and rebels were decimating his home vil(1971 to 1997), and now named the Democratic Republic of the lage – bombing, shooting, burning houses, and killing children Congo. by drowning them in rivers, cutting them, and disposing of them For generations – long, long before Juma’s birth in 1973 – in toilets. Juma’s father and mother hid and survived, as did three armed militias, rebels and soldiers of various stripes have swept of his brothers and two of his sisters. His youngest brother, age 6, through his family’s home region on the eastern border of Congo was caught in the village and killed. near Burundi. Sometimes these troops belonged to whatever Two years after this, his elderly father was arrested – on charges entity was functioning as a government at the time, usually a of having a gun hidden in his toilet (it was planted, as explained dictatorship. Oftentimes, the militias and rebels were proxies of later) – and was imprisoned and subjected to prolonged torture, neighboring countries – Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Angola – along with other traditional chiefs. One of Juma’s sisters was seeking to control Congo’s rich resources. raped, which caused her husband to reject her and their two Juma recalls three brushes with genocide at the hands of one of children. She's never since functioned normally. these armed groups in his home country. His first was when he was 4 years old, walking with his 6-yearSponsored by MCC old sister to visit an uncle in a neighboring village. “We reached This is the background to Juma’s desperate 2,500-mile journey a place where rebels used to kill people, and we saw government in 1998 from the eastern border of the Congo south to Zambia. soldiers coming on a big military vehicle. Going further, he arrived in South Africa in 1999 at age 26 and “When the vehicle stopped, we ran toward the lake and hid applied for refugee status. “I didn’t know where my father and under a rock. They came looking for us. They walked all over the mother were,” he said. “I was told by some people, ‘Your father rocks calling us ‘insects’ in Lingala and saying, ‘If we see them, was killed.’ I lived with that thought for almost four years.” we’ll kill them.’ By 2000, Juma had landed IT work with a Catholic diocese “We were hunched over with our arms crossed, and we tried to and had helped the diocese develop a program for assisting a refustop breathing. They looked for almost an hour, but there were gee community in Durban. That work led him to cross paths with many rocks. MCC representative Suzanne Lind, who offered to help Juma “We heard their vehicle going away, but we waited and waited study peace. Juma began writing to Carl Stauffer, then MCC’s and waited almost another hour, until it was getting dark. Then regional peace advisor for southern Africa. Stauffer replied, “Yes, we ran back home. we will give you a scholarship to go to Zambia and you can join “As children, it was really tough. There were many other smaller API in 2002.” events when the rebels came and we’d go hide in the bush and In those days, API’s trainings lasted two months, which meant they would take our chickens and cattle. Whether rebels or govJuma needed to stop working with the Catholic diocese in order ernment soldiers, they took whatever they wanted. That’s the kind to do the API trainings. It also meant he needed to ride in an of environment we grew up in.” airplane for the first time. After much prayer, Juma decided to The violence rendered Juma unable to start school until age accept the MCC scholarship to API. 9, and then he did so as a child sponsored by a U.S. nonprofit, The API trainings led to work with the Great Lakes PeacebuildInternational Compassion. ing Institute in Burundi (which led to meeting the woman he In 1996, when Juma was a university student doing a developwould marry) and to this wonderful discovery: his father had surment internship in a small town, he was coming out of his aunt’s vived the torture (though it had claimed the lives of other chiefs) house on a Sunday when he saw armed men on foot. (Later Juma and was living again with his mother in their home village. realized these were Tutsi rebels backed by Burundi and Rwanda In 2004, Juma had another miraculous experience: a cousin on a quest to overthrow the Mobutu regime.) invited him to meet the soldier who had planted the gun in the “They started shooting randomly. I ran behind the house into toilet to frame his father. “He was from my tribe, but he was actthe coffee trees, toward the lake. I found two uncles and one of ing as a kind of spy when he did this. He apologized for what he my brothers and was going away with them, when I met a child I did. He said he was misled.” knew. His siblings were already killed. I picked him up and took Juma forgave him. He could not do otherwise, after all the him with me to where my uncles were hiding. trainings and teachings he had done on reconciliation and on re“When it was dark, we got into a small boat to cross to the other integrating ex-soldiers into their home communities. side of the lake. There were about 15 of us, two uncles, my brother, “Our culture has resources that we don’t value enough. We have wives, kids. It was windy and we nearly drowned. We had to love and support from our family members and from the comthrow a lot of things into the water.” munity in general. Despite all the bad things that have happened, Juma was not entirely successful at avoiding the rebels. Two there is always something positive that remains. People capitalize of them found him and pointed their guns, ready to shoot. One on the little that remains. That is how they cope. There is usually screamed, “Who are you?” hope within them. They say, ‘I have to live because tomorrow will Juma, who had the tall, slim appearance of a Tutsi, replied: “I’m come, and it will be better.’” — Bonnie Price Lofton the son of the chief of I’amba-Makobola Village.” 36
Flora Bringi Francis says she was transformed by attending the 2013 session of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute. She now leads nonviolence training workshops and community trauma-healing workshops in South Sudan.
‘My breakdown became a breakthrough’ Flora Bringi Francis of South Sudan wrote these reflections after attending the 2013 session of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API). Her words have been slightly edited to fit the capitalization, punctuation, and grammar style of Peacebuilder.
My stories are usually immersed in feelings of hopelessness that are always initiated by a crisis. I have come to realize that only I have the answer to life that I have been looking for. No one else has it for me. As I looked back over the last 20 years of my life, I remembered that even then I was searching for “an answer.” The world around me was full of misery and suffering, [especially a] country like South Sudan. For example, good people were murdered, [and others] suffered the loss of loved ones, sickness and disease. No one was immune to the reality of suffering and the continuation of violence in different corners. But after I attended API in June 2013, it became the beginning of a journey that, as it unfolded, answered many questions: Why is there so much suffering? What is the cause? Is there a way out? What is the answer? Why am I here? In addition, I began to make connections as modules built on each other, starting from the River of My Life [and continuing] during the modules on Trauma Healing, Peace Clubs, and Introduction to Conflict Transformation–African Perspective to
Nonviolence. It was at this point that I started to feel like there was a way out; the lock on my mind came with a key. As all this new information began to sink in, I acknowledged that just as surely as the problems lay deep in my mind, so also did the solution. As I realized this, I began to feel deep feelings of gratitude to API. After the training at API, I am able to facilitate four nonviolence training workshops and two community trauma healing and recovering workshops. Each of the activities hosted a minimum of 25 participants from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in South Sudan. Additionally, more than 15 outreach programs were carried out by participants who attended the trainings, and media talk shows were organized. All the above activities have impacted positively on the attitudes and behaviors of people at the grassroots, who have lived with conflicts for some years. They have now started living normal lives after traumatic events and addressing their daily conflicts in a nonviolent manner, rather than using violence as the means of solving problems as they used to. This is a good beginning for change. In mid-2014, I started to educate the new generation about peace approaches. I was also able to raise funds for peace clubs, which I introduced in three schools as a new project in South Sudan. API has helped me to create a new foundation, and I make sure I spend time doing work I’m passionate about: coaching. One of the great benefits of the API program is the turning of a breakdown into a breakthrough. For that, I am a much better leader now. Besides changing others, I work continuously on my personal transformation.
PHOTO courtesy of
Flora Bringi Francis
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MPI 2000 • PHILIPPINES Growing branches from a healthy tree trunk
THE ORIGINS of the first peacebuilding institute in Asia can be traced to a conversation in the home of John Paul and Wendy Lederach when they lived near EMU in 1998. John Paul was then the visionary behind EMU’s 4-year-old Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). Myla Leguro recalls joining seven other Filipinos around the Lederachs’ dining room table to talk about setting up a peacebuilding institute modeled after SPI in Mindanao. It would be located in the heart of the southern region of the Philippines where violent conflict had raged for generations.1 Two years later, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) began holding summer training sessions, initially underwritten by Catholic Relief Services and Mennonite Central Committee. Two seasoned SPI instructors flew to the Philippines to teach at MPI’s inaugural year: Nancy Good (Sider), a social worker and an EMU faculty member, and Mohammed Abu-Nimer, a Muslim-Palestinian who had recently finished his PhD in the United States.2 Over the next dozen years, as MPI grew to have more than 1 The eight Filipinos were: two Mindanao bishops, Abp Ledesma and Bp Dela Cruz; two Muslim religious leaders, Alim Elias Macarandas (deceased) and Alim Julabbi; two Civil Society Organization peace advocates, Guiamel Alim and Deng Giguiento; and two Catholic Relief Services staffers, Myla Leguro and Peter Rothrock. 2 Mohammed Abu-Nimer went on to found his own peacebuilding institute at American University in Washington D.C., which ceased functioning in 2013, as described on page 44.
1,800 alumni, Mindanao gradually moved from being convulsed by near-constant warfare to experiencing a fragile peace across much of the island. In March 2014, the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front signed a comprehensive peace agreement, which paved the way for a new Muslim autonomous entity called “Bangsamoro.”3 Top-level peace negotiations had occurred over many decades, facilitated by leaders from largely Muslim countries. From 1976 to 1996, Indonesia facilitated the peace talks. From 1997 to the present, Malaysia has done so. Yet these negotiations also fell apart repeatedly – until the most recent series of talks leading to the 2014 agreement. How much credit for the current shift toward peace is traceable to the efforts of MPI in training hundreds of peacebuilders – who, in turn, trained or influenced thousands of others through their religious organizations, educational systems, neighborhoods, tribes, government agencies, military networks and nonprofit organizations? 3 Political and social hurdles remain for this agreement: the Philippine Congress must ratify it, followed by a plebiscite of voters in the affected region. A major setback occurred January 25, 2015, when the elite “Special Action Force” of the Philippine National Police launched an anti-terrorist operation in an area occupied by Muslim rebel groups. The operation was interpreted as a broader attack on groups that had agreed to a ceasefire. Fighting ensued. At the end of the day, 44 police and 23 rebels lay dead. Despite this, many leaders have urged that the peace process continue.
Reporter Bonnie Lofton (center back) is surrounded by core team members of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) in late 2014.
Tracing this influence is as impossible as determining exactly which molecules of water flowing in a river are traceable to a specific spring at the river’s headwaters. Yet people knowledgeable about the decades of conflict in Mindanao point to MPI’s key role as a constantly flowing spring of peacebuilding practices in the Philippines, merging with those of other springs, such as the Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc. and Southern Christian College, both based in southern Mindanao.
Trip to Cotabato In October 2014, the five-hour minibus journey from Davao, the commercial hub of the island of Mindanao, to and from Cotabato City required passing through multiple checkpoints staffed by heavily armed government soldiers. (Cotabato City is a densely populated urban area with a mix of Christians and Muslims, surrounded by a largely Muslim province, where rebels have fought government troops for decades.) These soldiers looked bored, as if they were not expecting trouble. Only once were the passengers forced to disgorge themselves from their crammed-tight minivan. The only obvious Westerner among the passengers – a female reporter for Peacebuilder – had been advised to keep her head covered and to dress modestly for the duration of the trip to and from Cotabato, but the soldiers paid scant attention to this grandmother-aged woman. They seemed intent on checking everyone’s belongings for something – explosives, arms, drugs, dangerous literature? It wasn’t clear what. Apparently satisfied after 10 minutes of poking inside the van, they sternly waved everyone back inside. In Cotabato City, Rhea Silvosa, an MPI administrator in her 20s who was acting as guide and host, urged the Westerner to stay close to the perimeter of their hotel, where security guards hovered, until time to depart for a meeting. The worry? Some Westerners had been kidnapped for ransom in recent memory. Viewed from a slow-moving vehicle on packed streets, it felt as if Cotaboto were trying to decide if it would be a city at peace or not – and what its identity would be. Beyond a high fence surrounding a campus with the Catholic name of Notre Dame University, about three-quarters of the women appeared to be Muslim, with their heads covered by scarves. The other quarter of the women would have looked at home in Manila – with
Myla Leguro, SPI '98 & '04, an administrator at Catholic Relief Services, was instrumental in founding MPI.
their flowing hair and tight jeans and T-shirts. Meanwhile, in the streets outside the campus, more than a few women were fully veiled, resembling women circulating publicly in Saudi Arabia. A number of schools had draped peace-themed banners or mounted billboards at their entrances. “This school is a zone of peace” was seen more than once.
The Kadtuntaya Foundation At the Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc., headquartered in a twostory building in a densely populated residential neighborhood, seven staff members (five men and two women) who had taken MPI courses sat around a conference table on a Saturday – normally their day off – patiently ready to answer questions for Peacebuilder. First a bit of background about the foundation: A couple who married across faith lines – he being Muslim, she being Christian – founded this nonprofit in 1989 to “bridge the gap between the Christians and the Muslims as well as the non-Muslim indigenous tribes in Mindanao whose relationship had been strained by decades of conflict and wars,” according to Kadtuntaya Foundation literature. The organization focused in the 1990s on “facilitating dialogues” among these groups, “aimed at reducing prejudices, improving relationships, and forging mutual understanding and cooperation.”4 As explained by Norlyn A. Odin, a Muslim woman on Kadtuntaya’s staff, the decades of conflicts have had much more to do with socio-economic issues – such as rights to resources, livelihoods, and group identity and dignity – than with religion per se. The ancestors of the indigenous people were in the area first. They began to be marginalized and oppressed with the advent of Muslim missionaries and the growth of trade with Muslim countries in the 1300s. With the conversion of prominent local leaders, divisions developed over many generations between the descendants of the Muslims and of those who did not embrace Islam. Spanish colonial rule came in the mid 1500s, followed by U.S. 4 In addition to its peace focus, Kadtuntaya promotes sustainable livelihoods and disaster risk-reduction (necessitated particularly by climate change), including promoting environmentally friendly farming and the production of marketable handicrafts.
PHOTOS by Gabrielle Aziza Sagarai (left) and Bonnie Price Lofton (right)
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“While I may not be able to bring back the lives of the people who had become our victims, what is important is that I am no longer a problem to society. I am now one of those who builds peace.” occupation at the beginning of the 20th century. Colonialism shifted power to Christians, and programs of settling Christians in the southern Philippines began. The Marcos dictatorship of the 1970s and early 1980s brought large-scale atrocities and unparalleled armed conflict, fracturing communal relations and displacing masses of people. The Marcos regime also appropriated Mindanao land and handed it to large numbers of Christian settlers, who displaced both indigenous people and Muslim people. Of Kadtuntaya’s seven staffers around the conference table that Saturday, two were Christians who did interfaith work; four were from the Muslim community (including one whose Muslim-rebel father had been tortured by government soldiers and one whose husband is a policeman); and one was of indigenous background, who was active in organizing a 10,000-person march in 2008 to insist on peace negotiations between the government and rebels and a 1,000-person march in 2009, where indigenous people called for recognizing their land rights. Kadtuntaya’s focus on dealing simultaneously with all three major groups of people – and its considerable local credibility, especially among Muslim communities – made it an ideal partner for MPI, which invited it to send representatives to Davao for intensive training in peacebuilding from the early 2000s on.
Peace trainings Florderick T. Sanico, 35, spoke of how his Christian-settler family had lost members in the conflict – “I’m personally a victim of the violence.” Kadtuntaya sent him to MPI in 2007 and he emerged feeling transformed by the training: “If you want peace, you have to start with yourself… I need to change my advocacy and attitudes away from violence.” Under the auspices of Kadtuntaya, he went to work in “very remote areas” where he brings together Muslims and Christians in a series of MPI-like trainings called the Grassroots Peace Learning Course. Catholic Relief Services started these trainings in 2003 to reach the widely dispersed communities affected by violence, initially using MPI-formed facilitators like Sanico, then using facilitators emerging from these trainings. More than 500 individuals from more than 200 organizations in Mindanao had come through these trainings by the close of 2014. The trainings are comprehensive, divided into nine modules, and may take up to 10 months to complete. The first four deal with self-understanding, the theory and tools of conflict transformation (extending over two modules), and Mindanao’s history of both harmony and turbulence. The next two modules focus on “horizontal peacebuilding” – aimed at strengthening the ability of communities to effect change (in this vein, Peacebuilder interviewees often mentioned clan-to-clan troubles and the need for projects that increase collaboration). Two modules address “vertical peacebuilding,” aimed at helping 40
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communities at the base to influence governmental and other structures above them. And the final, ninth module, centers on participants designing action plans for their own contexts.
Stories show results In 2010, Catholic Relief Services published 28 autobiographical stories of module participants, mostly written in their everyday languages of Tagalog or in Cebuano-Bisaya. Twelve of the stories eventually were translated into English in a 2011 booklet titled Working for Peace: My Cloud’s Silver Lining and Other Stories by Grassroots Peacebuilders in Mindanao. In one story, a 36-year-old woman talks about growing up in a place where killings were an everyday occurrence and then becoming a killer herself. “We did not care who got killed in the war – whether the victim was a child or an adult…. “One day, I woke up to the realization that my own kin and family had become victims of our group…. I started distancing myself, moving from one place to another to start a new life.” Eventually, she joined an organization consisting of three tribal groups, which sent her to take the Grassroots Peace Learning Course. She did the entire nine-module series and was sad when she had to say good-bye to those who studied with her – “the dear people I had grown to love, the people who accepted me despite knowing my past life.” “While I may not be able to bring back the lives of the people who had become our victims, what is important is that I am no longer a problem to society. I am now one of those who builds peace.” She went on to describe leading seminars, dialogues and other activities to spread the lessons she learned. Several others in the book describe laying down their guns as a result of doing the Grassroots Peace Learning Course. One Muslim man had a Christian neighbor whom he viewed as his enemy. Both neighbors ended up in the same peace-course cohort. And both changed so much that the Christian man, as he lay dying of an illness, asked the Muslim to take care of his family, a request lovingly met.
Wishing donors would visit for feedback Lo Ivan R. Castillon is one of the eight Christians (out of 47 workers) at the Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc. He graduated from a Roman Catholic institution, Notre Dame University in Cotabato City, where 70% of the students were Muslim. He confesses, though, that he harbored “biases regarding their behavior and attitudes” until he underwent training to be a peacebuilder. In his Kadtuntaya work, Castillon writes monitoring reports that help his organization satisfy the requirements of funders. Currently these are two Catholic organizations (CRS and CORDAID), two Dutch organizations, and two German organizations (Bread for the World and Mensen met een Missie). Personally, he is more motivated by the stories he hears rather
Norlyn A. Odin, a Muslim woman on Kadtuntaya's staff, seeks to empower women at the community level.
At Southern Christian College, peace--promoting arts are woven into the curriculum. Here two staffers flank a dove-centered creation.
than the “dry reports” he produces, which is why he loves to get major populations in Mindanao) for a four-week residential sumout to the field as much as possible. mer program. Explicitly patterned after MPI, this institute has “I like to hear how people have changed their lives, overcome prepared more than 300 peacebuilders, who are now spread across things, and now are positive sources of change,” said Castillon. the region as teachers, social workers, NGO employees, commu“I like to hear women talk about how they were not recognized nity volunteers, and government officials. before in their communities and now they are leaders, about how One of those 300 peacebuilders was at the conference table, peacebuilding makes a shy person to become a confident person.” Rodelio Ambangan, Melody’s husband. He directs the college’s He wishes more donors would come see such changes for them- Institute for Peace and Development Studies and is the chairselves – to talk to community members who have seen schisms person of the Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement, an alliance healed, violence come to be rejected by themselves and their of more than 100 organizations encompassing 30,000 to 40,000 neighbors – and realize the importance of supporting this work indigenous peoples from Mindanao’s three major tribes and many over the long term. “We need to work for peace for a lifetime – smaller ones. there are more challenges to come. We can’t stop. This has to be a “I learned peacebuilding first and foremost from my home,” way of life.” says Rodelio, referring to both his family home with Melody and A trait of the Kadtuntaya Foundation is to midwife the birth his larger home among his peoples, the Erumanen ne Menuvu. of other initiatives, owned by the participants themselves. As “Indigenous people are peace loving,” he adds. Under the stress an example, it has worked with dozens of organizations in the of survival threatened by conflict and natural disasters, though, Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, which (in turn) has some of the peace traditions have been in danger of disappearing. helped organize early-warning, quick-response teams of farmers, Rodelio works at reminding his people, “We have our own ways fisherfolk, religious people, students and so forth to be voluntary of doing restorative justice and it’s not just human, but also done peace monitors and advocates within their own communities in consultation with the Spirits.” across central and southwestern Mindanao. The teams are called Peace studies and practices seem to be woven into every aspect Tiyakap Kilintad, meaning “care for peace.” of the college. A weekly one-hour radio show is recorded at the college that always deals with ways to transform conflict. There’s At the Christian college an arts for peace program with theater, music and painting comTwenty-nine miles from Cotabato City resides Southern Christian ponents – peace-themed posters and paintings line walls everyCollege in the mid-sized city of Midsayap. One weekend morning where. The college sponsors mixed-ethnic, inter-religion sports in late October, 10 men and women assembled at the college’s programs to foster peace. lovely, tree-lined campus to offer their stories of peace work. Concurrent with its peace emphasis, the college deals with All but one of the 10 had taken MPI courses. Social work dean community building through outreach, offering literacy, health, Melody Ambangan was the first from Southern Christian environmental, livelihood, and gender-equality programs. College to attend MPI. In 2009, six years after her first three MPI In one corner of the college campus – near the main college courses, she said she dug out her MPI course materials and used entrance – is a building labeled “Saranay Feeds.” This turns out them to address gender issues, as well as the “anger and hurt,” to be a mill that produces animal feeds, a combined agricultural affecting the 100 or so students enrolled in the College of Social education and income-producing activity, with profits going Work. (She also returned to MPI in 2009 and took a course she toward student scholarships. missed in her first round: “Introduction to Conflict Transformation.”) In municipal government Each summer, the college’s Institute for Peace and DevelopTwo of the most surprising interviewees at the conference ment Studies invites 30 young people (10 each from the three table were not formally associated with the college. Bartolome PHOTOS by Pop Manara Salagog
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B. Lataza Jr. was introduced as the former mayor of the municipality of Alamada (population 56,000) in Cotabato province, along with his former executive secretary, Arjay Neville L. Repollo. Lataza started his journey toward peacebuilding as an enlisted man during the martial law period (1972-81) of the Marcos dictatorship. After 22 years of military service, he retired as a major and won Alamada’s mayoral election in 1998. Alamada was in the grip of “identity-based conflict” that manifested as spiritual and religious schisms, worsened by environmental degradation. Nearly 80% of the population lived below the official poverty line. “If we have peace, then there will be development,” Lataza and Repollo decided. The two gathered representatives from each major group to sit and talk to each other, followed by “thanksgiving meals” (Kanduli). They found peace themes to reference in the Bible and Quran and indigenous traditions. They let everyone speak freely about their realities, about their victimization. They encouraged all municipal employees to go and “listen to the cries, hear the sentiments of the IDP [internally displaced peoples].” In 2011 and 2012, Lataza and Repollo attended MPI, taking courses in restorative justice, religion and conflict, trauma healing, peace and justice advocacy, and arts-based peacebuilding. Today Alamada is a relatively peaceful municipality, where alternative dispute resolution is practiced and governing occurs transparently. “People say that investing in peace is expensive,” says former mayor Lataza, who also served multiple terms as city counselor and vice mayor. “But how much more expensive are war damages to businesses, [are] traumas, [are] thousands of IDPs?” Repollo says he learned that a different kind of power comes from peacebuilding. “You are more powerful because you are tranquil as a peacebuilder. You can be a lamb in the lion’s den if you are a peacebuilder. “Peacebuilding is a way of life, though it is a way that requires training and experience,” he says.
Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute at age 15 Catholic Relief Services in Davao physically housed the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute for its first nine years of existence. It ran the annual trainings and provided support services, such as bookkeeping, as well as some funding. Additional funders during most of MPI’s years have been the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and Mennonite Central Committee. (MCC continues to offer support by sending participants regularly to MPI’s annual training.) In 2009, MPI became a free-standing nonprofit, as originally envisioned by its founders, under the direction of Christine Vertucci. In the following four years, MPI experienced considerable staff turnover and financial challenges. MPI is now finding its footing again as a peacebuilding institute serving a wide geographical region, attracting the majority of it trainees from outside of the Philippines, says Vertucci. It also collaborates with other peacebuilding institutes, such as the Peacebuilding and Development Institute in Sri Lanka and the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute. The former institute got its start from former SPI instructor Mohammed 42
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Jeremy Simons, MA '02, is a regular instructor at MPI.
Abu-Nimer; one of his students, Saji Prelis; and Maharuf, an MPI alumnus. “Today MPI is pointed in three main directions – (1) education and training, (2) networking, and (3) research and documentation,” Vertucci says. Of these three, she admits that the last is more of an aspiration than an accomplishment. With MPI’s funding largely dependent on fees charged for attending courses, MPI has lacked the budget line to research and document the impact of its trainees over the last 15 years. Vertucci’s links to MPI go way back. She served on the founding committee of MPI in her previous role as the country representative for MCC. She was an early attender at EMU’s SPI, taking a course in 1996 with John Paul Lederach to prepare for her MCC work in the Philippines. She returned in 1998 for two courses– with Hizkias Assefa on reconciliation and with Vernon Jantzi on organizational conflict. Vertucci is not averse to MPI working its way out of a job in the Philippines – given that its graduates widely replicate MPI’s work on the local level – but she thinks that day hasn’t yet arrived, not with people from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Myanmar and so forth (not to mention a number of African countries) still coming for training. Born of U.S. parents, but raised and permanently settled in the Philippines, Jeremy Simons, MA ’02, was a member of MPI’s staff from 2011 to 2013 and continues to teach an MPI course each summer. “MPI has the power to be a convener, having trained so many people,” says Simons. He notes that MPI’s caliber of trainers, with most holding advanced degrees in the peace field, enables it to offer a comprehensive level of training that cannot be matched by other organizations in the Philippines. He points to unmet needs for MPI’s trainings both within the Philippines and without – to the need for alternative dispute resolution spread through court systems, restorative disciplinary practices introduced to schools, trauma-healing for almost everyone, much more work with the military and the police on how to be forces for peace rather than violence. Which leads us back to the observation of former mayor Lataza: the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute just needs to show that it’s much more cost-effective for donors to invest in peacebuilding, rather than focusing on fixing the damage emerging from humanmade or human-worsened disasters. — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO courtesty of Jeremy Simons
From computer programming to military peacemaking Twenty years ago, when she was 36 years old, Maria Esperanza “Pitts” Muyot-Liamco never imagined the role she is playing today – working for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, where she is a passionate advocate of peace education. Muyot-Liamco majored in statistics at college and then worked in information technology for 20 years, including 14 years doing systems analysis and programming in Bahrain. Family matters brought her back to the Philippines – her son and daughter to raise, mother with cancer to care for. In 2011 came an unexpected invitation. The Armed Forces of the Philippines decided to open a Peace Process Office. The officer selected to head the initiative knew Muyot-Liamco and her ability to grapple with data. Today Muyot-Liamco is the lead researcher within the 20-person Peace Process Office. The office consists of five officers and 11 enlisted members of the armed forces, plus four civilian researchers headed by Muyot-Liamco. The career military personnel get reassigned or promoted on a regular basis. As a result, Muyot-Liamco is the only person who has worked in the office from the beginning. The office has no enforcement power. Its power lies in encouraging peace-supportive policies. It works closely with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the government agency that oversees the comprehensive peace process with the rebel groups. When Muyot-Liamco realized the influential role the Peace Process Office could play, she also realized that personnel within the office would benefit from being trained in the field of peacebuilding. Upon learning of courses offered by the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, she took MPI classes covering: (1) the fundamentals of nonviolence; (2) resource-based conflict; and (3) indigenous ways of resolving conflict, centering around field meetings with elders and other local leaders.* The MPI experience was transformative for Muyot-Liamco. In that first session of MPI, followed by another round of MPI coursework in 2014, Muyot-Liamco found herself in classes with people struggling day-to-day with addressing violence in the Philippines, plus peace-motivated people from across Asia – China, South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, India, Cambodia and Laos. She even met a security * MPI was founded in 2000 by people who had done coursework at EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute and was explicitly modeled after SPI, as described in the accompanying feature article.
Maria Esperanza “Pitts” Muyot-Liamco
officer from Nigeria. “Aside from the formal education, I received a cultural education,” says Muyot-Liamco. “It was nice to live together and share our experiences with each other. I really appreciated the after-dinner conversations. The multi-national context allowed us to learn a lot from each other. I still maintain ties with some of my classmates.” From her research prior to attending MPI, Muyot-Liamco understood that conflict in the southern Philippines was “rooted in economic underdevelopment, discrimination, and identity issues.” But MPI helped her to bring that understanding down to the level of the human beings struggling with these issues, and to see how relationship-building can sow seeds for peace. Muyot-Liamco, who is Christian, especially valued the MPI field trips – such as one where she sat in “an open-air hut,” talking with people like the Muslim principal of an elementary school who spoke of incorporating peace principles into the school’s math, English and health curriculum. Local officials spoke of setting up committees “to look after the interests of all” that included representatives of all groups in conflict with each other. Village elders spoke of ceremonies of reconciliation, tapping indigenous traditions. In mid-2014, the Peace Process Office in Manila invited an MPI instructor to Manila to hold an educational session for the entire group, focusing on the impact of violence and resulting trauma on people, including military personnel. “This was the first time that something like this had happened in our office,” said Muyot-Liamco. Half-day lectures by the Peace Process Office are now included in the trainings for officer candidates and intelligence officers in the Armed Forces. — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO by Bonnie Price Lofton
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7 AU’s Peace Institute 2001 • WASHINGTON, D.C. Joining peace practice, scholarship and development AFTER EARNING A PHD in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in 1993, Palestinian-Muslim Mohammed Abu-Nimer applied for 176 academic jobs in the United States. His desire to work in this country made sense at the time. His wife Ilham, also born in a Palestinian town in Israel, was working on a PhD in early childhood education, and they had a young son (later joined by a daughter) they wanted to raise in the United States. Abu-Nimer was rejected 176 times. “Nobody wanted to take a fresh graduate in conflict resolution from the Middle East,” Abu-Nimer recalled in a November 2014 interview with Peacebuilder, adding that conflict resolution was just beginning to be recognized as a field of study. The 177th application he filed – with Guilford, a small Quakerrooted college in North Carolina – finally yielded a job offer. Vernie Davis, then an anthropology professor who also taught on peace and conflict topics, hired Abu-Nimer in 1993-94 to teach about religion as a source of both conflict and peace. The next year, a writer-editor working for EMU’s new Conflict Transformation Program, Cynthia Sampson, suggested AbuNimer teach on the same subject at its Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). And so he did, from the summer of 1995 to 2005. In 1997, he shifted from teaching at Guilford to American University in Washington D.C.1 Abu-Nimer’s SPI experiences gave him the yeast he needed to open his training institute in 1999, the Peacebuilding and 1 Mohammed Abu-Nimer has also taught at a summer peacebuilding program at the School for International Training in Vermont (whose founder, Paula Greene, visited SPI before starting that program) and at the Caux Scholars Program, a summer program in Switzerland that attracts international participants to explore peace and conflict issues. (The academic director of Caux from 1997 through 2010 was Barry Hart, a CJP professor who was in the GMU doctoral program with Abu-Nimer; Hart’s successor at Caux is Carl Stauffer, a restorative justice expert on CJP’s faculty.)
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Development Institute at American University (AU), as well as to help guide the founding of two others: the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in the Philippines in 2000 and the Peacebuilding and Development Institute in Sri Lanka in 2008. Today, Abu-Nimer is a tenured AU professor, with a lengthy CV that lists many journal articles, plus 11 books he has written, co-authored or edited, including Dialogue, Conflict Resolution, and Change: Arab-Jewish Encounters in Israel (1999); Peacebuilding and Nonviolence in Islamic Context: Bridging Ideals and Reality (2003); Modern Islamic Thought: Dynamic, Not Static (2006); Unity in Diversity: Interfaith Dialogue in the Middle East (2007); and Building By, Between and Beyond Muslims and Evangelical Christians (2009). He is also the founder and co-editor of the Journal of Peace Building and Development, published quarterly by the Kroc Institute at the University of San Diego. Such prodigious scholarly output is not unusual among AU’s professors. But Abu-Nimer brought something different to his AU work: ongoing practical, hands-on work. Since the mid-1990s, Abu-Nimer has responded to calls from dozens of conflict zones, such as Palestine, Israel, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Egypt, often facilitating both formal negotiations as well as trainings with community leaders and civil society groups. Abu-Nimer insisted on combining practice and scholarship in his Peacebuilding and Development Institute at AU, similar to SPI’s philosophy. He always aimed to attract an even mixture of university students and practitioners from the field. Over the years, he was largely successful, averaging a total of 60 to 70 enrollees in a series of classes, typically two or three offered weekly, running for three weeks total. His institute operated in the black financially, though it didn’t rake in big money for the university. Abu-Nimer’s development focus distinguished his institute from SPI. “I was interested in how you integrate peacebuilding with doing development – with microfinance, health, education,
agriculture. CARE, UNICEF, DANIDA, USAID and CIDA are all development institutions – how do you integrate peacebuilding into the framework of what they’re doing? That’s a question that interests me.” Today the peacebuilding institutes in which Abu-Nimer played foundational major roles are all functioning well, except (ironically) for AU’s, into which he poured himself for 15 years. Revised policies at AU led to the closure of his summer institute and four other centers under AU’s School for International Service in the last several years. “Throughout the years, it has been a struggle to get the practice of peacebuilding valued as highly as so-called research and scholarship,” Abu-Nimer said. “AU, like most heavily academic and research-driven universities, does not automatically recognize the value of scholar-practitioners.” In recent years, Abu-Nimer said he has watched AU’s School for International Service, along with many other international studies programs in the D.C. area, struggle with pressure to focus on research and scholarly publication, with coursework centered on matters that are upper-most in the minds of Washington D.C. policymakers and funders: national security, mitigation of terrorism, global governance, development management and diplomatic relations. International peace and conflict resolution at AU, Abu-Nimer noted, has always functioned as an interdisciplinary program, tapping faculty from other departments and disciplines, such as sociology, international relations and psychology. Its courses have been ”electives” – that is, not regarded as essential for earning a specific degree. By contrast, noted Abu-Nimer, peace-rooted, globally experienced Mennonites at EMU founded CJP precisely to address violent conflict around the world by linking theory with real-world practice. And, at EMU, the SPI courses can be an integral part of earning a master’s degree or (more recently) an undergraduate degree. This acts as a feeder for SPI and ensures its sustainability too, said Abu-Nimer. In short, the shifting tides of this era played into the closing of AU’s Peacebuilding and Development Institute after a successful summer session in 2013, where two courses were taught by CJPlinked people. Current CJP faculty members Elaine Zook Barge, MA ’03, and Vernon Jantzi, PhD, taught “Trauma-Sensitive Peacebuilding,” while SPI instructor Babu Ayindo, MA ’98, taught “Media and Peacebuilding.”2 “The most rewarding aspect of those three weeks,” said AbuNimer, reflecting on the institute’s 15 years of operation, “was being able to bring practitioners from places like Kenya, Nigeria, Iran and Afghanistan and put them in D.C. in the context of policymakers…. The interaction for me was explosive, seeing the dreams for change come into contact with the voices of reality.” The impact of peacebuilding is hard to prove, he said. It takes innumerable moments, countless small steps, to gradually build a stable society largely able to settle conflicts without violence. “Cause and effect will never be clearly established in this field,” 2 Past and present CJP faculty who taught there in earlier years: Nancy Good (Sider), Ron Kraybill, Lisa Schirch, Howard Zehr and Catherine Barnes.
PHOTO by Kara Lofton
Mohammed Abu-Nimer, founder of an institute closed after 15 years
he said. “It’s frustrating, because there is now such a demand for quantifiable measurements of success, and this field does not lend itself to that.” Abu-Nimer regards it as a strength that SPI has theological reasons for working at peace, because such reasons are less susceptible to shifting in response to prevailing political tides. He believes broad support for SPI from a peace-oriented community helps account for SPI’s longevity and ensures its continued viability. “Few peacebuilding institutes have an institutional host as supportive as EMU is,” he said. “SPI is more than good instructors, shared meals, opening and closing rituals, evening socials, and caring people. There’s a whole community, even beyond EMU, that supports SPI. This is a huge advantage few have.” In the fall of 2014, Abu-Nimer was awarded a fellowship to spend a semester in Vienna, Austria, as a “senior advisor” at the King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID). This center was founded in 2011 by Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, with the official support of the governments of Austria and Spain and the Vatican as an observer. “Representatives of all the major religions of the world are on the board [of KAICIID],” said Abu-Nimer. “Its basic rationale is sound – to collaborate to prevent the manipulation of religion for violence.” Morever, he added, “many governments ignore the positive role religious leaders can play in alleviating poverty and promoting health and education.” The invitation to advise KAICIID was timely, arriving when he needed it most. “I was exhausted. It was painful to see the institute [at AU] being closed down after 15 years of work.” — Bonnie Price Lofton peacebuilder ■ 45 emu.edu/cjp
In this 2001 SPI photo (not the class described below), professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer is in the back row, third from the right.
Studying under a maestro of peace In the years I spent earning my master’s degree in conflict transformation in the early 2000s, the Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) class I took with Mohammed Abu-Nimer remains a touchstone for me. The course title was something like “Understanding the Cross-Cultural Aspects of Conflict Transformation.” I don’t remember the names of my required readings, nor do I recall the papers I wrote to earn my three credit hours. Instead, what I distinctly recall are the conflicts that occurred among the students in the room and how Mohammed – SPI professors are always addressed by their first names – handled them. I can picture my classmates in my mind, seated around a circle of tables in what was normally a light-filled studio for artists. There were 20 of us (evenly males and females) from 12 countries. We looked to be early 20s to late 50s. Seven of us were some stripe of Christianity, five were Muslim, and one was Buddhist – judging by references made to faith-based values and experiences in class discussions. The remaining seven made no mention of their beliefs. As the week wore on, it became clear that some came from settings of severe persecution promulgated in the name of certain religions. Our appearances were highly mixed, from an Indian woman in a silk sari to an American man in a T-shirt and Bermuda shorts. There was a Middle Eastern woman fully covered in a hijab and jibab – i.e., covered head to toe except for her face – who was sharing a dormitory room with a woman in our class from the same nation. The latter tended to appear in tight clothes that revealed most of her legs and much of her chest. Their distance from each other as roommates was visceral. One man had issues pertaining to his impending divorce; a
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PHOTO EMU archives
woman had issues pertaining to her engagement to be married. A prison official spoke of a grandchild serving time in prison. A middle-aged woman from Asia was sorely missing her young adult children back home and wishing they were with her, while a twenty-something woman from another part of Asia was dreading her return home, where she would be expected to abide by her parents’ wishes in every way. The question of terrorism arose frequently. Why were radical Muslims targeting innocent Americans in New York City? Why was the U.S. military bombing Muslim civilians overseas? By Day 4 of the seven allocated for our class, our group felt electric with tension to me. One of the Middle Eastern roommates was openly hostile. Wearing a perpetual half smile, Mohammed was usually on his feet, moving within our circle of tables like a dancing bear considering whether to attack or retreat in the face of threats. Finally he gave a short talk that seemed to be prompted by the behavior of someone from his background (Palestinian-Muslim), but that applied to many of us at that point in the week. This is the gist of what he said: I’m in this profession, teaching this course, because I believe that it is possible for people holding different beliefs, living in different ways, to learn to live without harming each other, perhaps even cooperating with each other. But this requires that we listen to each other and treat each other with respect. This is what I teach. I hope nobody signed up for this class with a mistaken understanding that I will tolerate disrespect and harm inflicted on others. Now, can we all agree that we will proceed with what we are learning together about each other and about conflict, despite our cross-cultural, cross-religion and crossgender differences? The atmosphere in the class shifted. New friendships developed over the next few days, even between the two Middle Eastern women, who chose to remain roommates after all. And I knew I had studied under a maestro of conflict transformation. — Bonnie Price Lofton, MA ’04
8 Just Peace Initiatives
2005 • PAKISTAN Winning hearts and minds with carrots, not sticks
ALI GOHAR looked out of place at the train station of Bradford, England, on a drearily damp-cold November day in 2014. Not because he’s Pakistani – about a quarter of Bradford’s halfmillion residents have recent roots in Britain’s former colonies in and around the Indian subcontinent. It’s just that Gohar looked as if he were still living and working among his beloved Pukhtoon people in northwestern Pakistan. Gohar was wearing his traditional Pukhtoon garb – a brown coat and a vest over a tunic extending to the knee, over white linen pantaloons. On his head sat a pakol, a soft, round-topped men’s woolen hat typical of his home region. Gohar looked much as he does in photos taken at jirga meetings in conflict-gripped regions of Pakistan that border Afghanistan – namely Baluchistan, Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Gohar admitted to feeling stuck in Bradford, a former factory city that once claimed to be the wool-processing capital of the world. Today its factories stand empty, and the working-class housing is mainly occupied by relatively recent arrivals to Britain, hoping for a more secure life than they had back home. Stuck in Bradford? Gohar and his family were in the required paperwork-and-waiting stage of gaining semi-permanent UK residency during the fall and winter of 2014-15. (Much of his wife’s family has settled there – her parents and two brothers and their families.) Meanwhile, Gohar says it’s been a challenge to travel extensively to do his peace work in some of the most violent areas of Pakistan – with funding inconstant, depending on the priorities of the donor agencies – while simultaneously trying to be a good husband and father. When his wife sought to move herself and their four children from Pakistan to England, Gohar went along with the idea on
“Everywhere in the world, it is important for restorative justice practices to be embedded in the local culture and context, or local people will not feel that they own them.” a trial basis. But one year has turned into six, and the children have thrived in Bradford’s school system, surrounded by many students from their home country. The Gohar family’s love and devotion is obvious when they’re all in the same three-room flat in Bradford, with the 22-year-old twins (one of each gender) usually studying science books in one small room in their quest to be physicians, while Dad, Mom and the younger two girls sit in close proximity in the almost-as-small living room, working on their projects late in the evening. If a Skype call comes in, everyone gathers to smile, wave, and say hello into a laptop screen.
His heart is in Pakistan After Gohar’s family gets its residency, though, history suggests he will be on a plane, heading back to the place where he has deep roots and loyal staff, working from an office that doubles as his sleeping quarters in Peshawar, Pakistan. Once there, if the past is a predictor, Gohar will rely on Skype to stay in touch with his family, plus an annual visit of a couple of months. In 2002, after Gohar finished his master’s degree at the Center peacebuilder ■ 47 emu.edu/cjp
Ali Gohar has traveled extensively to do peace work in some of the most violent areas of Pakistan – with funding inconstant, depending on the priorities of the donor agencies – while simultaneously trying to be a good husband and father. for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) of Eastern Mennonite Pukhtoon tradition. Gohar’s maternal great-grandfather was University (his Fulbright scholarship provided just enough for killed in a dispute in 1923, causing the son who became a Servant his family to live in the attic of a house near campus), they all of God to be raised fatherless. A maternal uncle of Gohar’s returned to Pakistan where Gohar worked with another CJP decided to take revenge for this 1923 offense by killing in 1996 the graduate to co-found what is now called Just Peace Initiatives. grandson of the 1923 killer. This maternal uncle was then killed Funding was non-existent those first few years, and the other in 1971. Another Gohar uncle took revenge in 1973. And it kept alumnus, Hassan Yousufzai, soon shifted from Just Peace to going. government employment. By the time 1978 rolled around, 12 people had been killed from Just Peace now has five professionals as its core staff, plus these two family lines. “I had never seen my mother happy – she two support staff (a watchman and a driver). Another 20 or so was always weeping, crying,” said Gohar. “It had been a 60-year university-educated Pakistanis have been through Just Peace train- enmity – that was enough.” ings and are hired when grant money permits. The unevenness Jirga members approached Gohar’s maternal uncles and of the flow of grant money means their income is never certain, separately approached men from the other family, using what though. Cherished staffers have needed to take other jobs during Gohar calls “parachute diplomacy.” Deciding eventually that the lean times, returning as volunteers when they can. feud needed to end “for the sake of God,” the families extended Truth be told, Gohar pockets so little from Just Peace that each forgiveness to each other “without even payment of blood money,” of his family members old enough to work holds paid-by-theending the multi-generational cycle of violence. hour jobs in Bradford (one of them does double shifts, working The success of jirga (a traditional consultative process for resolvtwo jobs). The family lives much less securely, for example, than ing community problems) in addressing his family tragedy helped that of fellow Pakistani graduates of CJP who hold government Gohar to see its potential for implementing a Pakistani form of positions. “restorative justice,” as it’s called at CJP. “God brought us here to relieve suffering,” Gohar says. “I am a poor man. I suffer. I see the suffering of others. I can’t just live Tapping traditions well and watch others suffer. I have the most respect for those “My Pukhtoon culture is at least 5,000 years old,” Gohar says who work for a better future for others. Everyone wants the best proudly. “Our system of jirga has been part of our culture since for their family, not just me.” long ago. About 90% cases in rural areas and 70% in urban areas Normally an optimist, Gohar confesses he reached a nadir in are still resolved through jirga. Since the system still functions 2011 when Just Peace chief executive Javed Akhathar was shot and and is respected, it needs to be used” – preferably, he adds, killed while traveling by car. Just six months previously, the man’s informed by modern concepts of human rights, restorative 22-year-old son had died of cancer. Akhathar’s widow and the two justice practices, women’s participation, and decisions that are remaining children needed all the support Gohar could muster. documented. “It took me a year to recover my spirits and energy,” Gohar says. “Everywhere in the world, it is important for restorative justice “I wondered why he [his colleague], who never hurt a soul, lost his practices to be embedded in the local culture and context, or local life and wondered why God had spared me so far, despite all the people will not feel that they own them,” he explains. dangerous places I’ve been to.” In contrast with the jirga system, Gohar says, Pakistan’s criminal court system might render a decision, but “it does not Family history of enmity reconcile the parties in conflict or promote consensus. Even after Always in the back of Gohar's mind is this story: Gohar’s years of litigation, an acquitted person is often killed in vengeance maternal grandfather responded to the Bacha Khan’s call and on the same day, even going home from the court.”1 became a Servant of God. Arrested by the British, he spent years Though Gohar is a devout Muslim, he has positioned Just in prison, enduring beatings and other forms of torture, including Peace as “a nonpolitical, nonreligious, nonprofit civil society a winter’s night in freezing pond water. He lost his eyesight and initiative that uses conflict transformation methods to promote his mind as a result of this treatment, spending the rest of his life 1 For more information, read Towards Understanding Pukhtoon Jirga: An bitter and angry. Gohar’s grandmother and the children survived Indigenous Way of Peace-Building and More (2012), by Hassan Yousufzai by selling the family’s land, piece by piece. and Ali Gohar, available via amazon.com. Articles on the topic may be found on www.justpeaceint.org. More family tragedy centered around revenge killing, in the 48
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Ali Gohar (in vest), MA 02, speaks among a circle of Pakistani men who are considering ways to meld traditional jirga practices with modern concepts of human rights. For his extensive work in this field, Gohar received the 2015 CJP Alumni Award for Outstanding Service.
peace, justice and dignity in Pakistan.” That doesn’t mean that Gohar shies away from religion. On the contrary, he uses the faith and cultural traditions of Pakistan as a key resource for the teachings of Just Peace. “I can persuade my people if I can just sit with them. That’s all I need – time and permission to sit with them.” Gohar and his staffers almost always start their Just Peace workshops – which may be as short as a day and as long as three days – with a reading from the Quran and a story relevant to them. He says he wants each participant to seek to have a clean mind and heart, “to fight within their own souls” to build peace. Gohar reminds his listeners that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) asked his followers to respect life, calling the life of one person more sacred that the holiest place on earth. Moreover, in both the eyes of the Muhammad (PBUH) and that of Pukhtoon tradition, men who fail to honor women – who raise their hand against them – are acting shamefully, notes Gohar. He points out that Muhammad (PBUH) forgave his enemies, including those who killed his uncle. In recent years, when equipment is available, Gohar brings along a CD to show a half-hour dramatization of a true story – one which he scripted for production by Pakistan Television – of a young woman who, after being violated by a man, nearly loses her life due the practice of honor-killing. The show is one of four written by Gohar, all with social justice themes, which have been broadcast on national television. “UN agencies and NGOs in Pakistan are now using this show in their capacity-building, trainings and workshops,” says Gohar. “I’ve had policemen and jirga elders tell me they cried when they saw it – it was the first time they had considered honor killing from the woman’s point of view.”2 Somewhere during his workshops, Gohar typically points to his personal hero, Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1890-1988), a friend of 2 Search YouTube for “Bya sahar sho” to view an English subtitled edition of the show.
Gandhi’s who fought nonviolently for his people’s independence from the British in the mid 1900s. The Bacha Khan, as he is affectionately called, was a Pukhtoon political and spiritual leader (100,000 followers in his non-violent army, called “Servants of God”), a lifelong pacifist, a believer in the equality of women, a champion of the poor, and a devout Muslim.3 According to a 2013-14 research paper co-authored by Gohar and Australian criminologist John Braithwaite,4 Gohar’s work is not universally popular in Pakistan. Some professionals, notably city-based lawyers, object to Gohar’s view that the traditional approaches to justice in rural Pakistan should play a role in modernday Pakistan. They don’t agree that indigenous-style dispute resolution offers locals an alternative to the regular court system. Almost nobody disputes, however, that cases tend to drag out for years in Pakistan’s court system, with fees and payments typically greasing the process and tilting the wheel of justice toward the rich and powerful. In editorial commentaries and blogs, some women’s and human rights groups have argued that traditional “elders” identified by Just Peace are always men, often holding ignorant (even abusive) views on women and members of minority groups. Gohar nods and smiles wanly when these criticisms are raised in person. He doesn’t disagree. But he does disagree on how change best occurs, on how cultural attitudes shift. From experience, he feels he achieves more engaging people conversationally, rather than confronting them angrily, head on, causing them to react to protect their honor – especially in the honor-driven Pukhtoon culture. 3 More information can be found on the justpeaceint.org website under “Servants of God.” Also, a number of videos are circulating via YouTube, found by searching “Bacha Khan.” 4 This paper is available online for free downloading, titled RegNet Research Paper No. 2013/14, “Peacebuilding Compared: Restorative Justice, Policing, and Insurgency – Learning from Pakistan.”Go to emu.edu/now/ peacebuilder/2013/12/peacebuilding-compared-restorative-justicepolicing-and-insurgency-learning-from-pakistan/
PHOTO courtesy of Ali Gohar
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“Just Peace Initiatives has been a practice-based think tank focused on retrieving the wisdom and the restorative qualities of Pukhtoon traditions, while also campaigning for respect for human rights.” “I’m trying to win minds and hearts not with a stick, but with a carrot,” says Gohar. “But if you give people a carrot, you have to give them time for digestion.”
Muslahathi committees as a hybrid As a way of offering a complementary alternative to malecontrolled jirgas – which admittedly operate without formal checks and balances – Just Peace has promoted a “hybrid” (Braithwaite’s word) approach since 2008. The approach is embodied in what Just Peace calls muslahathi (“reconciliation”) committees, which don’t necessarily replace jirgas. They simply give community members, especially women, another option for dispute resolution. Ideally, these muslahathi committees consist of respected members of civil society, including several women, plus one police officer who is charged with reminding committee members of relevant human rights laws. Unlike the informality of jirgas, the decisions of the committee are supposed to be recorded for future reference. Operating under the auspices of the local police station, it was thought, would also give members of these committees a measure of protection against attacks by the Taliban. In their 2013-14 paper, Gohar and Braithwaite describe how the Taliban typically move into lawless situations and eventually kill even respected elders who deliberate in jirgas, viewing them as competitors for the people’s loyalties. With financial support from the Australian government and Asia Foundation from 2008 to 2010, Just Peace succeeded in launching these muslahathi committees, with trainings provided to all committee members, in 73 village-level police stations in the volatile district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. At the time, Just Peace’s work benefited from the strong endorsement of Malik Naveed, a high-ranking police official who was inspector general of police for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.5 Naveed and Gohar met at a restorative justice symposium in Peshawar in 2003 – also attended by Braithwaite – and decided to collaborate on adapting restorative justice practices to Pakistan.
A blessing and a curse This collaboration has proved to be both a blessing and a curse for Just Peace Initiatives. The blessing was being able to see if the muslahathi committees were workable. And – as Braithwaite found in the spring of 2013 when he spent a month in Pakistan doing research that included 5 Malik Naveed had first been introduced to concepts of restorative justice at a 2002 United Nations Asia and Far East Institute conference in Japan (Braithwaite was there, too). Afterwards, Naveed contacted CJP professor Howard Zehr, an internationally known expert on restorative justice, who told him he should meet Ali Gohar, Zehr’s former student.
site visits, interviewing muslahathi committee members, and reviewing their records – many of them worked remarkably well, even continuing to function on a voluntary basis when outside funding (and trainings) ceased in 2010. These committees, whose members receive no pay (other than the police officer on his usual salary), had successfully settled civil disputes involving businesses, land, gambling, roadways, water usage and other environmental concerns, treatment of women, and more. In so doing, they had extinguished sparks that typically fueled cycles of violence. The curse aspect came from Just Peace being associated with inspector general Malik Naveed when, in 2010, he was accused of illegal activities not related to the functioning of the muslahathi committees. To this day, Naveed is fighting court charges pertaining to embezzled payments for large-scale arms sales. And, to this day, Gohar emphasizes that Just Peace has never benefited from any arms sales (an activity that would violate Gohar’s pacifist principles, in any case), but is an organization that – then and now – operates frugally and is happy to have its activities monitored by anyone at any time.6 As an example of the social-support role of muslahathi committees, Braithwaite cited a situation in 2012 where hundreds of people fled the fighting between the Pakistani army and Taliban in the Swat Valley and arrived in Abbottabad District (known today for being Osama bin Laden’s last place of residence.) The locals hospitably opened their homes to them. “In one of these grossly overcrowded situations, people living in the ceiling of a home were peering down into the adjacent home, invading the privacy of women,” wrote Braithwaite. “Violence erupted. Homes were burnt down.” The local muslahathi committee helped the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) – including those involved in the violence – to rebuild a destroyed house, even supplying building materials and their own labor. Peace was restored between the host community and the IDPs. “Perhaps the most impressive thing about muslahathi committees is the volunteerism that has sustained the fruits of a modest donor investment of approximately $90,000 years after it was spent,” wrote Braithwaite. “It is a remarkable thing that one of 6 In Regnet Research Paper No. 2013/14, pages 23-27, John Braithwaite discusses at length “legitimacy challenges” to the work of Just Peace, including its being maligned by a widely circulated, anonymously written news blog (easily located online by typing “KPK police embezzled millions”) addressing financial corruption linked to police inspector general Malik Naveed. After Braithwaite fact-checked a number of the assertions in the 2013 news blog – though the main source quoted, Dr. Murtaza Mughal, did not respond to Braithwaite’s queries – Braithwaite concluded that the aspersions cast specifically on the work of Just Peace did not hold up to scrutiny. In fact, they were contradicted by Braithwaite’s own on-the-ground month-long research project in Pakistan that same year.
Restorative justice professor Howard Zehr (left) chats with Ali Gohar at a May 2015 event at EMU marking Zehr's retirement from teaching.
the largest restorative justice programs (restorative justice hybrids) in the world has no public funding apart from the salary of the police officer.” In early 2015, a year after Braithwaite wrote these words, Gohar expressed regret to a Peacebuilder reporter that Just Peace has not been able to secure funding to continue to train, advise and monitor existing muslahathi committees, much less establish new ones.
Worked in settings as varied as public schools, refugee camps, hurjas (village community centers), universities, churches and madrasases (Islamic schools). In the first six months of 2014, for example, Gohar facilitated eight threeday workshops in three locations in the northwest tribal area of Pakistan, reaching 90 female and 150 male teachers on restorative methods of handling conflict with students, reintegrating drop-outs, and addressing students’ trauma and other psychosocial problems.
Other work In addition to rejuvenating the jirga system and introducing muslahathi committees through publications, workshops and presentations, Gohar’s accomplishments via Just Peace Initiatives cut a broad swath.7 As a partial summary, Gohar has: Written scripts for nationally broadcast programs aimed at combating drug use, preventing AIDS, reducing domestic violence, stopping honor killings, and introducing restorative justice. Produced books and manuals in both English and Pukhto that offer instruction on the basics of conflict transformation, including A Little Handbook on Restorative Justice co-written with Howard Zehr, Distinguished Professor of Restorative Justice at EMU. Collaborated with CJP research professor Lisa Schirch in producing an op-ed piece “Lessons from South Asia for an Arab Spring,” plus articles on the role of rituals in peacebuilding, the role of Pakistani civil society in peacebuilding, and the way drone warfare contributes to the growth of terrorism. 7 Visit www.justpeaceint.org for considerable information, including photos, video clips, newspaper reports and research publications.
Over the years, major funders of Just Peace projects have included United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNHCR, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOCHA), Asia Foundation, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, Catholic Relief Services, U.S. Institute of Peace, Concern Worldwide, and International Fellowship of Reconciliation. About 6,000 have attended one of the day-long workshops held by Just Peace in all four provinces of Pakistan since 2003, and 2,027 have attended one of the three-day Just Peace workshops. The attendees included 900 women. We’ll give the last word on this subject to John Braithwaite, a renowned criminologist and restorative justice pioneer on the faculty of Australian National University: In conditions where hundreds of jirga leaders have been assassinated by the Taliban, and jirgas attacked by suicide bombers (because jirgas are more popular than the Taliban justice system), Just Peace Initiatives has innovated with collaborations between state justice and restorative justice in order for jirgas and muslahathi committees to be held in secure conditions. Under the inspiring leadership of Ali Gohar, Just Peace Initiatives has been a practice-based think tank focused on retrieving the wisdom and the restorative qualities of Pukhtoon traditions, while also campaigning for respect for human rights. — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO by Michael Sheeler
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Members of the Pukhtoon Society of Bradford, England, who are setting up a hujra (from left): Awais Ali, youth member; Zia Zakirullah, general secretary; and three executive committee members, Kader Khan, Haji Shahrif Khan and Ali Gohar.
Migrants to England hope their hujra will build community “There’s no community here at all,” says Ali Gohar, MA ’02, in disgust, as he urges a visiting reporter from the United States to accompany him and his son, Awais, to meet three other Pakistani men in a non-descript rowhouse in a working class district of Bradford, England. “We have a big need here – even the police agree – we need to start building a sense of community for our young people,” he continues. Zia Zakirullah, Kader Khan and Haji Shahrif Khan introduce themselves as members of the Pukhtoon Society of Bradford and as executive committee members of a group establishing a hurja. That’s Pukhtoo (one of Pakistan’s languages) for “village community center.” A hurja is not just a place, the men hasten to explain. It’s the heart of a village, the focus of hospitality for visitors. In the absence of hotels in rural Pakistan, travelers always know they can find shelter, food and safety within a hurja. At least, that is the way it was in the old days, before much of northwest Pakistan and northeast Afghanistan – the traditional homeland of the Pukhtoons – began descending into violence, mostly stoked by outside powers and interests. Gohar explains that most of the thousands of Pakistani citizens who have moved to Bradford in the last 50 years “came to earn money and then to go back home.” Yes, one of the other men nods soberly, “we always thought
we would go back home.” But then their children came along, and they went to Bradford’s schools, where all the lessons were in English and centered around Britain. And the children no longer felt like natives of Pakistan. They didn’t quite feel British either. Yet they didn’t want to go live in their parents’ homeland, which they didn’t know at all, or not much. “We were an agrarian society, we depended on each other,” says Gohar. “Now, here, we are not unified. We don’t help each other. The young don’t listen to the elders. The elders feel disrespected by the young. Crime is a problem, and we don’t know how to find solutions, the way we did with our hurjas. “Back in Pakistan, the jirgas [problem-solving groups of male elders] developed from our hurjas. I want to preserve this wonderful hurja tradition of taking care of each other.” “Our young are walking the streets and getting into drugs,” says Zakirullah. The solution, these men have decided, is to set up a Bradford version of a hurja. And, through it, to teach that the Pukhtoon code of life is to love and respect each other. Zakirullah points out that migrants from Bangladesh, Kashmir, and Kurdistan have community gathering places, why not the Pukhtoons? The reporter wonders about the mosques – couldn’t they serve as community centers? Zakirullah says mosques should be reserved for worship (adding his regret that many in Pakistan have become political hotbeds) rather than being a site for hospitality and communal sharing the way hurjas are. Zakirullah explains: “We need a place for celebrating and grieving, for cultural events, for inviting friends who are Hindus or Christians to join us.” — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO by Bonnie Price Lofton
9 The Peace Academy 2007 • BOSNIA/HERZEGOVINA Detoxifying the post-Yugoslavia region MUCH OF SARAJEVO still looks battered by the sniper fire and artillery shelling of a quarter century ago, with gashes in the gray concrete of the multi-story apartment buildings and halfdemolished homes behind some garden fences. Yet the setting is stunning. Heavily forested hills, with five big mountaintops, hug the valley where Sarajevo nestles along the placid Miljacka River. This 600-year-old city, now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), must have been a breathtaking location for the 1984 Winter Olympics. For a first-time visitor from EMU, it’s startling to realize that the hills lining Sarajevo – from which Bosnian-Serbian snipers and artillery terrorized Sarajevo for nearly four years in the early 1990s – are about as close to Sarajevo’s main street as EMU’s hill is to Harrisonburg’s Main Street. The constant barrage from the nearby hills killed 11,500 and wounded 50,000, almost all trapped civilians, many of them children. In less than four years, Sarajevo was pummeled from being a multi-ethnic European city – with a mosque, Catholic church, Orthodox church and synagogue sometimes within blocks of each other – to being a rubble-strewn place where much of the population had lost their homes. Today, 20 years after the U.S-brokered Dayton Peace Agreement ended open warfare, Saravejo is again a gracious-feeling city where Bosnians emerge in the evenings and on weekends for korzo – taking a walk, stopping to chat with friends, lingering in a kafana, or coffeehouse. In the oldest part of the city – where most Ottoman-era homes and buildings have been restored – restaurants and bars are full. New hotels have opened. In the words of the Lonely Planet, “In the 1990s Sarajevo was on the edge of annihilation. Today it’s a vibrant yet very human city, notable for its attractive contours and East-meets-West ambience.” Yet underneath the loveliness savored by a growing trickle of tourists is this reality:
“The trauma of survival [has] shifted from running away from guns during the war to the present situation of not having enough money to feed the family and send children to school,” wrote Amela Puljek-Shank, MA ’04, in a Peacebuilder Online article posted May 20, 2012. Amela said that the underlying tensions in the region were not being addressed. They were smoldering. In her 2012 article, Amela added: In the former Yugoslavia, with the exception of Slovenia, we live under the constant threat of potential armed conflict.1 This or that group wants to separate from this or that country. We justify the crimes committed in the region in the name of defense and out of fear. The politicians use this reality to get elected, stay in power and keep fear present, which increases mistrust and the inability to live together. Through it all, I see the trans-generational transfer of trauma. My generation grew up hearing the stories of World War II's horrors, and elements of these stories have been played in front of our eyes in these last wars in former Yugoslavia. As a society, we have successfully given a new generation our reservoirs of trauma and told them to carry it. Little has changed in the years since Amela wrote this article, based on Peacebuilder interviews with a half-dozen people in Sarajevo in November 2014 including: Amela and her husband, Randy Puljek-Shank, MA ’99; a colleague of Amela’s, Tamara Šmidling; and human rights lawyer Nedim Kulenović. The four shared links with the Post-Yugoslav Peace Academy, which offered an annual 10-day training program modeled after EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute, from 2007 through the summer of 2012. “We are still a deeply divided society,” said Kulenović, who was one of 60 participants in the 2012 Peace Academy, the most recent one held. The mix of ethnicities in the classroom – Bošniaks 1 Wars raged in Slovenia in 1991, in Croatia 1991-95, in BosniaHerzegovina 1992-95, and in Kosova/o 1999-2000.
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Nedim Kulenović, a human rights lawyer
Tamara Šmidling, one of the Peace Academy organizers
with Muslim roots, Croats with Roman Catholic roots, and Serbs Donor issues with Orthodox Christian roots – surfaced tensions, but the Peace “Donor policies, I don’t understand them” – Tamara Šmidling was Academy provided safe space to wrestle healthily with the tenexpressing her frustration at the end of a long Thursday on the sions, he said. heels of an exhausting trip to assess the needs of refugees in camps Too many schools in BiH are sharply separated along ethnic in the Middle East.3 lines, Kulenović explained. Children from the same neighborBut Šmidling’s six words were ones her listener, a reporter with hood may walk to different schools, or even different ends of the Peacebuilder magazine, had heard (and would hear) in many same divided building. They’ll study different historical narraforms, many times, during six weeks at the close of 2014 while tives, which extoll their own ethnicity and degrade others. The interviewing peace-committed people in nine countries, includsame neighborhood may have multiple fire brigades, one for each ing Bosnia and Herzogovina. ethnicity. These people were all intent on sweeping up the embers of Discrimination of one group against another (the group in the violence in their societies and replacing these red-hot embers majority shifts from district to district, or even town to town) with skills and materials for building peace. Yet almost all the is rampant, says Kulenović, who works for Vaša Prava BiH, a interviewees felt frustrated that they were more likely to see an network of 30 human rights lawyers in nine offices, supported infusion of donor dollars if their regions were hit suddenly with heavily by grants from funders outside of BiH, including the flooding and mudslides than if peacebuilders were making slow Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, the UN High Commissioner but steady progress toward enabling people to live cooperatively. for Refugees, the European Commission, and Open Society.2 And that is what Šmidling was wearily referring to. Kulenović and his fellow lawyers can and do file suits to address In mid-May 2014, for example, her country had declared a state injustices. But he would like to see more being done to shift the of emergency when rain poured down so heavily in three days, underlying culture, the prevailing social attitudes, that give rise to it exceeded what would normally fall in three months. Dozens injustices. And this is where the Peace Academy was positioned died, hundreds were injured, and hundreds of thousands had to when it operated for those five years – preparing people to return evacuate their homes. Potable water ran short, electricity failed. to their home settings to do a conflict analysis and determine Landslides exposed live landmines from the 1990s war. partnerships and pathways for detoxifying their society. Bosnian governmental systems were (and remain) largely nonfunctional, so families, neighbors and citizens helped each other to the best of their ability. But with half of the country unemployed, local resources were limited. Some disaster relief came from outside the country, including some provided by Mennonite 2 According to its website (vasaprava.org), Vaša Prava BiH’s “core Central Committee (MCC) in North America. activities are directed to the removal of deep-seated barriers to equality of Being an MCC staffer, Šmidling obviously is not opposed to opportunity and outcome, such as discriminatory laws, customs, practices and institutional processes. It also entails concern with the development of the freedoms of all individuals, irrespective of gender; to choose outcomes they have reason to value.'
3 Tamara Šmidling reports to the director of MCC’s Europe and Middle East office, Amela Puljek-Shank, MA '04.
PHOTOS by Jasmin Sakovic/Bulb Art Studio
“In the former Yugoslavia, with the exception of Slovenia, we live under the constant threat of potential armed conflict.” disaster relief. Šmidling just wishes donor dollars flowed as readily and more steadily toward long-term projects, like the Peace Academy in Sarajevo that she helped launch in 2007.
The Peace Academy MCC provided the seed money for this Peace Academy, which enabled it to run for 10 days, two summers in a row. Then the Balkan Trust for Democracy added some funding to MCC’s, and the Peace Academy functioned for another three summers (current CJP academic dean Jayne Docherty taught there in 2012). The Peace Academy averaged more than 150 applicants for the 60 seats available each session. Participants contributed toward the cost of their classes, each running five full days at a time, based on their ability to pay, from 50 to 350 Euros per class, including room and board. In a region where unemployment runs at about 50% – and those lucky enough to have jobs earn low wages – some participants struggled to pay the minimum 50 Euros. The actual cost was 600 to 700 Euros per participant, so heavy subsidies were needed for each. “We explored nationalism, mass violence, crimes, collective identities and their connection with past war crimes, nonviolent movements and gender issues,” said Šmidling, who previously was a trainer for the nonprofit Center for Nonviolent Action in BiH. “We were the one place in the region where scholars and activists could meet and find common ground.” These topics drew heavily on the coursework that Šmidling did at EMU’s 2005 Summer Peacebuilding Institute, where she studied the legacy of violence and addressing this legacy through transitional restorative justice; navigating cross-cultural differences; and the roles of ritual and the arts in peacebuilding. In addition to Šmidling, two of the other six organizers of the Peace Academy were alumni of CJP – Amela and Randy PuljekShank both had master’s degrees in conflict transformation from CJP and were serving as co-representatives for Southeast Europe with Mennonite Central Committee from 2002 to 2011. (Amela’s home city is Jajce in western BiH, from which she fled when it came under siege in the early 1990s. See the following article titled “From war survivor to MCC administrator.”) Online surveys of former participants found that the Peace Academy approach worked well. They ranked all of the classes highly. They appreciated coming to one place where people of all types – all ethnicities, both genders, a range of ages, urban and rural, scholars and laborers – could learn together and from each other, sharing meals and socializing outside of classes. Learning occurred interactively, using the “elicitive” approach popularized by CJP’s founding director John Paul Lederach, said Amela. It was peace education with a clear purpose – to prepare people from all walks of life to work for lasting change. “Bring-
Randy Puljek-Shank, MA '99, doctoral candidate researching “legitimacy and civic agency of civil society actors" in BiH.
ing practitioners from across the Balkans to learn theories of peacebuilding, alongside academics learning about practice – this brought fresh air to both groups,” she said. By Year 3 of the Peace Academy, however, MCC was realizing it did not have the resources to indefinitely support the academy without other donor partners. And the Balkan Trust also said its support was short-term. “For a year and a half, we sent out proposals – I don’t know how many – to dozens of addresses worldwide,” said Šmidling. But no foundation or international agency seemed interested in investing in long-term, grassroots peace trainings in the Balkans. The area was no longer making news with a civil war, as it was in the early 1990s. It was out of view in the global media, end of concern. Then, in February 2014, thousands went into the streets of Bosnia-Herzogovina to protest the rocket-high unemployment rate, unpaid wages (from bankrupt factories), and grinding poverty. They burned dozens of government buildings, expressing fury at the political inertia in the country following the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. The riots left about 300 injured. Soon thereafter Šmidling heard donor agencies talk about the need to focus on social justice issues in her country. A few months later came the torrential rains and flooding, and donors helped with that crisis. “Crises are what keeps them [foreign funders] alive and brings in their money,” Šmidling noted. “Instead of preventing crises – or equipping ourselves to better handle them peaceably – we peacebuilder ■ 55 emu.edu/cjp
“Many international donors come with a strong bias – they are antireligious and anti-ethnic, which is a problem getting funding for working here. The organizations with the most local legitimacy are not organized along the lines that the donors would like to see.” have to wait for them to happen to get the world’s attention. It’s a vicious circle.”
Living in the region since the 1990s war (Randy was a Mennonite relief worker when he met Amela), Randy notes that peacebuilding needs to begin with where people are currently clustered, Bottom up peacebuilding which is largely not in secular, multi-ethnic organizations. The toxicity in the Balkans is understandable, given the recentness “Unfortunately, many international donors come with a strong of brutal warfare affecting almost everyone in horrible ways. bias – they are anti-religious and anti-ethnic, which is a problem The world is familiar with the Nazis’ genocidal acts in World getting funding for working here,” he says. “The organizations War II, including in BiH (then part of the Kingdom of with the most local legitimacy are not organized along the lines Yugoslavia). But many may not realize that such acts occurred that the donors would like to see.” again when Serbs led by Slobodan Milošević began to systematiRandy also bemoans the short timeline of most big-time cally eliminate Bosnian Muslims. donors. “International donors tend to operate on a two-year Milošević’s militias forced repopulation of entire towns, puttime frame. This leads to formalism – to the appearance of doing ting men and boys in make-shift concentration camps. In some something significant, such as holding a big conference. But if the locations, Muslim males were killed en masse, with hundreds at a conference makes no difference – maybe even occurs in a time time buried in unmarked trenches. Between 20,000 and 50,000 frame when everything gets worse – the donors just shrug and say, women, mainly Muslim, were raped, according to some estimates. ‘That’s not my problem.’” The United States was roused to initiate military intervention Randy is of two minds. On one hand, he would love for some when a Serb-launched mortar shell hit the Sarajevo marketplace, major donations, committed for at least five years, to ensure that killing 68 and wounding nearly 200 on February 6, 1994. the Peace Academy is on solid footing with a professional staff. By the time a U.S.-brokered peace accord was signed on On the other hand, he wonders if it would be better to forget December 14, 1995, over 104,000 people had been killed, accordabout putting the Peace Academy on a professional basis and to ing to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former “go back to our roots” and run it informally as activists, making it Yugoslavia. More than 20,000 were missing and feared dead, into a movement that strengthens ties among networked activists. while 2 million had become refugees and displaced. Amela didn’t agree that this second approach was doable. InterThe Dayton Agreement set up a multi-layered, confusingly difviewed on the heels of a draining 14-day trip to MCC programs fuse array of governmental jurisdictions across the country, based in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan with Šmidling, Amela reminded on ethnicity. The result, by all accounts, is permanent paralysis. Randy that the two of them and Šmidling had exhausted themNo government agency, for example, can organize a conference to selves for more than five years, often working 14-hour days, trying develop a school curriculum that would cease the vilification of to do their regular work, while trying to get the Peace Academy different ethnicities. No such country-wide agency exists. up and keep it running. To change the functioning of the various governmental bodies When the academy stopped functioning after the summer of would require changing the constitution emerging from the 2012, “we lost continuity, we lost rapport with previous particiDayton Agreement, and the Parliament of the Federation Bosniapants,” said Amela. “It is difficult to build a good reputation in Herzogovina is far too divided for such a task. So the country is peacebuilding – people [in the Balkans] are feeling disillusioned frozen from the top down. with the whole concept. We needed to keep it running for at least The Peace Academy was trying to work the other way – from a decade – you just cannot stop.” the bottom up in building a viable, truly democratic state. Nedim But how do you run something for a decade on volunteer labor Kulenović, the human rights lawyer, notes that a federal system in a country where everyone is scrambling to survive financially, can work in a multi-ethnic society (pointing to Switzerland’s where nobody has the time to step up and be the one in charge? multi-lingual nationhood), but it has to rest on a foundation of Randy conceded, “It’s hard to direct things collaboratively – fiscal equalization and social harmony. ownership of the project becomes diffused. We [the six volunteer “We prefer to view religion as a resource for peace, not just a diorganizers, representing four organizations] divided up tasks viding factor,” says Randy Puljek-Shank, who is a PhD candidate among ourselves, and things weren’t getting done. We needed to at Radboud University in the Netherlands, researching “legitimastep back and be a board and hire a director and a staff.” cy and civic agency of civil society actors in Bosnia-Herzegovina.” But even doing that requires a major investment at the front 56
Amela and Randy Puljek-Shank with their son, Isak
end – as other peacebuilding institutes covered in this issue of Peacebuilder demonstrate – before an organization can find a way to be self-supporting.
Ongoing trauma Everyone interviewed by Peacebuilder in BiH saw the need for widespread trauma healing of the type provided by CJP’s Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), plus an understanding of identity issues. Amela summed up the situation in her 2012 article thus: The longer we are here, the more we understand the significance of trauma education in the Balkans. We continue to take parts of STAR and adjust and adapt it for different aspects of our work. STAR is a cutting-edge approach to trauma across the world. It covers not only how you deal with it on a psychological level, but how it affects your entire being, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Seeking better grounding in addressing the aftermath of war, the successors of Amela and Randy as MCC representatives for East Europe, Ruth Plett and Krystan Pawlikowski,4 did coursework at the 2014 Canadian School of Peacebuilding.5 Plett took STAR, instructed by CJP staffers Elaine Zook Barge and Vernon Janzti, while Pawlikowski took “Arts-Based Approaches to Community Peacebuilding.” Interviewed in their MCC office in Sarajevo, Plett and Pawlikowski were backed by wall-mounted photos of about 20 projects and organizations that MCC has long supported in BiH, Croatia, Serbia, Kosova/o, Ukraine and Russia – ranging from 4 Both families – that of the Puljek-Shanks and of Plett and Pawlikowski and their respective children – live in Sarajevo. At the beginning of 2013. Amela became the supervisor of the East Europe office staffed by Plett and Pawlikowski, in addition to overseeing MCC’s work throughout the rest of Europe and across the Middle East. 5 This school was co-founded by CJP grad Jarem Sawatsky in 2009 and is covered at length in a separate Peacebuilder 2014-15 article.
Krystan Pawlikowski and Ruth Plett flanking their daughter, Misha
a Muslim organization that runs soup kitchens, to a number of orphanages, to an interfaith choir that sings music from all of the singers’ religions.6 Amela and Randy translated STAR materials from English and used them for trauma trainings in 2005 and 2006. They were partly motivated by "Franciscans [who] came to us and said that people were coming to their priests, feeling suicidal," said Randy. Today there is a trauma center that evolved from those trainings, located at the Bread of Saint Anthony, a Franciscan charity. These trauma materials and approaches also radiated out to MCC-supported partners, like a center that works with veterans from Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. “They offer a basic training where the veterans come from different sides of the conflict,” explained Amela in her 2012 article. “During these week-long trainings, they share about their experiences with war. It is very intense, but it offers a space to listen, empathize and break down prejudices. “The organization stays in touch with these veterans and gives them the opportunity to be involved in peacebuilding activities, such as developing videos about the consequences of war, visiting each other’s front lines, and seeing each other’s memorials.” Amela says she hopes the Peace Academy, which will reopen on a limited basis in 2015 and resume fully functioning in 2016 (if funding works out, as Šmidling fervently hopes), will focus on “developing resilience in our society” through understanding the multi-generational impact of trauma and how to break cycles of trauma. “Trauma can be not only a curse,” she says, “but a gift.” — Bonnie Price Lofton
6 The funding from MCC that each project receives ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 (U.S.). MCC would have to bleed these other worthy projects to be the sole supporter of the Peace Academy, which Plett and Pawlikowski are understandably unwilling to recommend.
PHOTOS by Jasmin Sakovic/Bulb Art Studio (left) and by J. Daryl Byler (right)
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From war survivor to MCC administrator A version of this article appeared in the fall 2005 issue of Peacebuilder, when Amela and Randy Puljek-Shank – both alumni of EMU’s masters program in conflict transformation – were representatives of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Southeast Europe. Today Amela oversees MCC’s Europe and Middle East operations and Randy is pursuing a PhD through a university in the Netherlands. In her wildest dreams as a middle-class person in Yugoslavia, Amela never thought she would be in a war. Never thought she would be a penniless, hungry refugee. Never thought she would be married to an American. She crossed each of these thresholds, one at a time, before she turned 30. At last she came to EMU where she earned undergraduate and graduate degrees to prepare herself for returning to her home region to work for peace and justice. Randy is the son of Gerald and Ethel Shank of Ephrata, Pennsylvania. After high school in Ephrata, Randy earned a bachelor’s degree at Brandeis University, a Jewish-sponsored university in Massachusetts. Next stop was an international Mennonite organization based in Germany, which sent him to do relief work with refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. There in 1994 he met Amela who worked for the same organization. “We were co-directors of a team of 10 people – we were a mix of ethnicities – distributing material relief like food, hygiene items, notebooks for school,” recalls Amela. Randy was the only non-local person in the group. Amela had been disillusioned by the religious groups she saw around her. “If faith was what I was seeing in my environment – where the Catholic and Orthodox churches were enticing each other to hate each other, and the Muslims were the same way – then I thought it was better to not be identified with any religion.” But working beside Mennonites day after day under stressful conditions helped her to see that their understanding of Christianity was different. They offered spiritual nourishment and hope and worked to heal rather than hurt people. Amela was a 22-year-old college student in 1992 when war came to her hometown in western Bosnia, Jajce. Her parents were aligned with no side in the conflict. Her mother, an accountant, had Bosnian Muslim roots. Her father, manager in a chemical factory, had Catholic-Croat roots. “There was pressure to choose a side, but my family did not
want to be affiliated with any agenda, with any nationalist group,” Amela recalls. “This made things more difficult for us. There was no group to turn to for support. We couldn’t get food or work. When the shelling started, we had to flee our home.” Amela, her 15-year-old sister and parents left home on foot one night, just ahead of an invading Serb army. They carried just two suitcases filled with some essentials. After two days of walking toward central Bosnia, “we were so tired, we wanted to throw away even these two suitcases.” They stopped in a town called Kakanj – the first safe area where they could stay. For a year and a half, Amela’s family lived with four other people in a one-bedroom apartment. “Mom and Dad dug coal to keep us warm over the winter, and Dad would sometimes be able to do manual labor in return for a kilo of oil for cooking.” Amela calls the Red Cross their “saving grace.” The Red Cross kept the family from starving, though they were hungry from October ’93 to May ‘94. To sustain the Puljek family of four for about 10 weeks, the Red Cross supplied oil, beans, lentils and laundry detergent – about enough of each to fit into a quart-sized milk jug. Toward the end of this period, the Red Cross opened a soup kitchen that served one meal a day. After Amela and Randy were married by a Mennonite minister in a Bosnian Catholic church, they headed to Amela’s home town with a group of 20 international volunteers to help returning Muslim refugees reclaim their houses or rebuild them. Amela discovered that her family’s home was occupied by a Croat family. She found that old acquaintances and schoolmates dodged her, perhaps embarrassed or fearing the consequences of acknowledging her. She ran into former school buddies who were working for the secret police. Randy and Amela were shadowed, and their phone was tapped. “This period gave us a taste of what fascism was like,” says Amela. It also left them feeling utterly empty. “Randy wanted to come to the Conflict Transformation Program and study, and I just wanted to get out of it.” From 1997 through 1999, Randy completed his master’s degree in conflict transformation while Amela worked on finishing her bachelor’s degree. Taking classes at the Summer Peacebuilding Institute opened Amela’s eyes to the possibilities of being equipped to return to Bosnia, and she enrolled in the master’s program. In 2003, about the time that Amela finished her coursework in conflict transformation, her mother and father were able to return to their home in Jajce. None of their furniture or other belongings remained, but they were thrilled to have a home again after 10 years as refugees. What about Amela’s initial skepticism of Randy’s Anabaptist faith? “Theologically I am a follower of Christ. I have felt sustained by reading the Gospels and answering Jesus’s call for justice and peace. Anabaptist peace theology is the core on which my personal faith and call to serve is based.” – Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO by Howard Zehr
2007 • FIJI
Responding to violent power, ethnic strife, resource extraction, and climate change
ON A MUGGY, WARM DECEMBER MORNING, fourteen peacebuilders waited patiently in a rural Fijian village. They had arrived at the appointed hour, yet “Fiji time” prevailed. A village meeting involving the headman was taking place in the nearby hall. So they waited in a reception room adjoining the man’s house, 12 women and two men from the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP), sitting cross-legged on the traditional woven matting that covered the bare wood floor, fanning themselves and idly chatting. Tea arrived, accompanied by plates of jam sandwiches and flatbread soaked in coconut milk, all prepared by a few village women. The contingent, led by PCP executive director Koila CostelloOlsson, was comprised of staffers from two offices. Those from PCP’s main office, located in Fiji’s capital of Suva on the largest island of Viti Levu, had journeyed to Vanua Levu, the secondlargest island, the previous day – taking an exhausting day-long route by bus, ferry, and then bus to the large town of Labasa, where the northern office is located. Over the next two days, traversing asphalt and red-mud roads by charter bus (accompanied by a soundtrack of Bollywood dance music played by the Indo-Fijian driver), the PCP group would visit five rural villages where peacebuilding projects had been implemented. The size of the PCP delegation was designed to build trust and emphasize the organization’s commitment to ongoing facilitation, Costello-Olsson said, at a time when NGOs typically come with short-term solutions and then disappear. (During the visits, many villagers mentioned this common
dynamic in one-on-one conversations with PCP facilitators: “They come and leave before anything is accomplished,” as one man put it.) PCP/CJP-style peacebuilding calls for years of commitment and deep wells of good-natured patience. Yet the wait time was also an opportunity for those doing emotionally draining work in often-difficult circumstances to share laughter, to pause and reflect on the goodness of a warm smile of a stranger, curious children, chickens pecking, and the bright vivid beauty of verdant hillsides visible through unglassed windows. For Costello-Olsson, such rare informal time with her staff is an opportunity to see their camaraderie and resilience, and to re-affirm and restore her vision for what has become one of the largest peacebuilding organizations in Pacific island-nations that are struggling for post-colonial stability and democratic governance. Since its founding in 2007 by Costello-Olsson, MA ’05, Paulo Baleinakorodawa, MA ’04, and 15 others who weren’t connected to CJP, the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding has trained village leaders, women’s groups, politicians, pastors, civil servants and members of the police and military in applicable combinations of restorative justice; stress and trauma awareness and healing; interethnic dialogue; and conflict analysis, prevention and resolution. Workshops and trainings are designed to meet the needs of the specific group and the challenges they face. “Our vision is Pacific people transforming, reducing, and preventing violent conflicts,” said Costello-Olsson. “We want to peacebuilder ■ 59 emu.edu/cjp
Nearly every person in Fiji knows people whose human rights have been violated, including being jailed for peaceful dissent. raise awareness about the concepts of peacebuilding and conflict transformation, strengthen people’s existing tools, and build a network of empowered people who can listen, analyze and intervene in a mindful and positive way,” whether that person is a wife and mother sharing her voice in the village women’s group or a professional working on environmental issues or in a government ministry office. PCP’s area of influence includes 12 sovereign nations within the South Pacific island groups of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia – an expanse that covers tens of thousands of islands and many tribal groups with their unique customs and languages. With its central geographic location and infrastructure, Fiji is the base for much of the region’s education and training; the island has two major centers of education, the University of the South Pacific and Pacific Theological College. (The theological college works collaboratively with PCP, as will be explored later.)1 Because outreach is inclusive – participants come from Bougainville, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, West Papua, Tonga and Vanuatu, among other island nations – it is important that this work move forward with a respectful, “hybrid approach” that taps the traditional peacebuilding and conflict resolution practices of those cultures, Costello-Olsson added.
Breadth, depth of challenges Each location also has its own challenges. The Solomon Islands, for example, were wracked by armed conflict from early 1998 to mid-2003, which not only claimed hundreds of lives, but saw thousands displaced from their homes, the use of children as soldiers, and widespread raping of women and girls.2 Though each conflict in the region has a distinct historic background and cause – traceable often to the dysfunctional layering of colonial practices over indigenous ones – common triggering factors include social issues: economic deprivation; high unemployment rates for male youth; ethnic disparities and misunderstandings; resource extraction and development issues (over 90% of land in Pacific-region nations is communally owned); and governance issues, including non-democratic, transitional and/ 1 Major funders of PCP have included Bread for the World-Germany, Conciliation Resources, International Women’s Development Agency, European Union, and United Nations Development Programme-Strengthening Capacities for Peace and Development (UNDP-CPAD). 2 Abuse of women in the Solomon Islands was worsened by warfare, but it existed before 1998 and has continued since 2003. Research by the Solomon Islands Family Health and Safety Study, published in 2009, found that 64% of women aged 15 to 49 who had ever been in an intimate partner relationship had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by their partner in severe forms, such as punching, kicking or having a weapon used against them (as compared to somewhat lesser violence, such as being slapped or having objects thrown at them). Such treatment began early – 37% of women in this age group reported having been sexually abused before the age of 15.
or weak systems. Gender-based violence and multi-generational trauma have accompanied the foregoing.3 The South Pacific region is also dealing with the impact of climate change, resulting in coastal erosion from rising tides, saltwater intrusion that ruins gardens and makes groundwater non-drinkable, and low-lying swamps that are a breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitos. In the Fiji Islands, three villages have already been relocated and 45 others are slated for relocation in the near future, with dramatic effects on daily life, culture and economic well-being.4 In one village visited by the PCP bus-riders, the residents talked about how buildings are now often flooded at high tide (due to climate change). With loss of farmland comes food insecurity and economic pressures. Children weren’t visible in this village during the day because – it was explained – they were sleeping, fatigued from night fishing expeditions. The elders are painfully aware that their ancestral roots in this village – tied to sacred rituals and extended family networks of support – are under threat. If these villagers have to move, where will they go, and what can be kept intact wherever they land? Climate change is not an abstract notion in the South Pacific – residents of low-lying small islands, such as Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea, seem destined to be the world’s first national groupings rendered as refugees due to climate change. Obviously, such displacements can fuel conflict, both within the displaced peoples and externally, as they bump against others in the quest for liveable land. Though Fiji is an educational center among the Pacific nations, it has not been a haven of stability for the functioning of PCP. Since 1986, Fiji has had four military coups. The most recent one in 2006 ushered in nearly seven years of military dictatorship, which ended with elections in the fall of 2014. At Peacebuilder’s press time, Fiji had a fragile democratically formed government. In the past several decades, nearly every person in Fiji, including those associated with PCP, know people whose human rights have been violated, including being jailed for peaceful dissent. Contributing factors to these decades of conflict are inter-ethnic dynamics between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.5 Compounding the situation, church denominations have taken sides. 3 A study in The Lancet, published September 10, 2013, found that 41% of men on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, reported having raped a non-partner and 14.1% reported having committed gang rape. 4 Reported at the February 2015 Climate Change and Health Adaptations Symposium, Suva, Fiji. (pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2015/February/02-13-03.htm) 5 Most Indo-Fijians are the descendants of Indian indentured laborers, called girmitiyas, who were brought by British colonial authorities to work in the sugar fields, although some are descended from a later wave of free settlers from different provinces and castes in India.
A contingent of staffers from the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding awaits a meeting with a village headman at a community center in Fiji.
For civil society organizations concerned with promoting a healthier society, such instability causes seismic shifts in NGO and governmental funding from out-of-country sources, such as the governments of Australia and New Zealand, the European Union, and UN agencies. Following the 2006 coup, Costello-Olsson left her position at the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy to be one of the founders of PCP. Baleinakorodawa, then working for the Columban Fathers, joined her, along with similarly motivated individuals. They envisioned a wider outreach into all sectors (rather than simply a focus on religious organizations) and also an expanded geographic reach. Four years later, Baleinakorodawa decided to become an independent consultant on peacebuilding matters. Other founding members have since also gone on to other pursuits.6 Given the stresses under which PCP operates, it’s not surprising that organizational identity and structures must be constantly revisited. PCP has struggled to reconcile large differences of opinion among staff on a range of matters, including political viewpoints, preferred paths of action, and how to handle perceptions of bias toward stakeholder groups. Costello-Olsson says PCP has grown mindful of the need to strengthen organizational structures and culture through internal peacebuilding and ongoing training of staff, which consists heavily of young adults under age 30. PCP engages in bi-annual reviews, the second of which is a multi-day retreat with an outside facilitator who aids staff and board members in extensive evaluation of all aspects of the organization. In December 2014, the village visits were an important, though enjoyable, task before this process began.
6 Leadership and staff turnover in peacebuilding institutes, particularly in their formative years, is the norm, as other articles in Peacebuilder show – especially in highly unstable environments.
Ceremonial introductions Back in the village community center, the PCP visitors enter barefoot, careful to observe protocols. One’s head must not be higher than the headman, and women's legs should always be covered. (Both women and men among the visitors are wearing traditional long skirts called sulus that make this a simple task when seated on the floor.) A traditional gift of thick yaqona root, used in the kava ceremony, is presented by PCP facilitator Veni Cakau. He and the headman alternate a series of short speeches in highly ceremonial language. This protocol, which is always carried out by men using the Fijian language, will enable the group to continue their visit in the village. After the speeches, Costello-Olsson introduces herself. In a traditional manner but using the English language, she speaks of her father’s island ties and then her mother’s island ties. Depending on historic relationships between the tribes and island groups, this will determine how much levity might be included in social interactions (for example, in one village, Veni is teased mercilessly, and then invited to come back and marry a local girl). “I am of Fijian, Irish, Samoan, Tongan and English background,” Costello-Olsson says, adding that she is a “real tropical fruit salad,” a common expression for the many mixed heritage islanders, which draws smiles and laughter from the crowd. “My husband is Max Olsson, and if you recognize that name, yes, he was a rugby player on our national team,” she says, and waits for the appreciative noises and nods. Rugby is the national sport of Fiji and its players are celebrities. Costello-Olsson’s introduction includes mention of her two children, as well as an explanation of her work with PCP. To see Costello-Olsson in this very real relationship-building among indigenous Fijians engaged in subsistence farming and fishing allows one to gain an appreciation for the very different cultural worlds she straddles: from her native island, where she earned a diploma from the University of the South Pacific, to a university PHOTO by Lauren Jefferson
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Veni Cakau, a PCP staffer adept at ceremonial greetings
education in Australia to graduate school at Eastern Mennonite University. On behalf of PCP, she’s traveled the world in recent years throughout the Pacific region and to Africa, Europe, Asia, and the United States. Costello-Olsson’s relationship with EMU began in 2001, when she sent an email to John Paul Lederach, founding director of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, asking for help in finding facilitators for Fiji’s first peacebuilding conference. Lederach recommended CJP professor Lisa Schirch, who gave a keynote talk at that conference and co-facilitated. She also encouraged Costello-Olsson and Baleinakorodawa to embark on longer-term study in peacebuilding. Costello-Olsson earned her graduate degree mainly through attending EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She returned to SPI for further training in 2008 and to co-teach in 2009.7 In the summer of 2011, Costello-Olsson was among the 18 experienced global peacebuilders (including fellow CJP graduate and 2011 Nobel Peace laureate Leymah Gbowee) who developed the broad outlines of the Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program (explored further on pages 64 and 76 in this Peacebuilder). The development of PCP has gone hand-in-hand with strengthening academic and ecumenical ties in the region. Since 2010, PCP has partnered with Pacific Theological College to run a Pacific Peacebuilding Training Intensive (PPTI) for three weeks each year.8 7 The summer of 2015 marks Costello-Olsson’s eighth teaching stint at SPI – she’s co-teaching a course on adult-centered learning, “Training Design and Facilitation.” 8 The success of this training has led the Pacific Theological College to add a program of such studies to its regular pastoral curriculum, under the direction of Rev. Rosalyn “Rosa” Nokise, who attended SPI in 2013. In an interview with Peacebuilder, college principal The Rev. Dr. Felese Nokise (Rosalyn’s husband) was enthusiastic about the possibility of offering a graduate program in peacebuilding.
Rev. Dr. Felese Nokise, principal of Pacific Theological College
PPTI has trained about 200 religious and civil leaders in the principles of conflict analysis, trauma healing and conflict resolution. In 2013 and 2014, PPTI hosted “Training of Trainers” sessions, which then expanded the network into other South Pacific countries.
Traditions versus change Incorporating traditional customs and methods of resolving conflict into current peacebuilding practices sounds like a nobrainer, but it does present challenges in a society that is highly patriarchal and filled with violence. This is the current reality throughout the South Pacific islands, regardless of how this came to be historically. As a positive example of traditions, everybody nodded when the Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission encouraged restoring the social fabric of war-torn communities – and reintegrating victims and ex-combatants – through activities such as traditional dances, cleansing ceremonies, and rituals to bless and heal the bush, land, rivers and sea. (A founding board member of PCP, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, was one of the three members of this Truth and Reconciliation Commission.) Equally lauded was the symbolic exchange of food and traditional shell money in the Solomon Islands between conflicting parties, marking reconciliation and forgiveness. Yet what about this common tradition in the Solomon Islands? The male relatives of a rape victim visit the male relatives of the perpetrator and insist that the perpetrator (if single) marry the victim (whether the victim wishes this or not). The victim’s family also expects compensation, which is typically transferred between male relatives (uncles, brothers, fathers), and serves to pacify the male relatives and reconcile the families involved. The victim’s wishes and needs (perhaps for medical attention, counseling, and
PHOTOS by Lauren Jefferson (left) and Eliki N. Ravutia (right)
Koila Costello-Olsson, MA '05, PCP executive director
Rev. Jerry Waqainabete, district supervisor for Methodist church
her idea of justice) are not part of the picture.9 One of the major challenges that PCP-trained peacebuilders face, then, is how to encourage their communities to retain lifegiving, healthy traditions, but to give up or transform ones that are oppressive, even life-threatening, to women and other groups. The village community hall, for example, is a multi-purpose communal space: for this PCP visit, it was used to welcome strangers, perform traditional greeting ceremonies, and offer the hospitality of a meal. But PCP facilitator Sindhu Lata Prasad, one of two Indo-Fijian women working in the Labasa office, shared that she often spent the night in such halls when conducting workshops in rural villages more than a half-day’s travel away: “The first time I did it was the first time I had gone into an I-taukei village,” Prasad said, using the common term for indigenous Fijians. “And it was the first time they had hosted an Indo-Fijian.” That the village space is opened to a woman in a leadership role, traveling alone, much less a woman from a different culture with which there are historic tensions, shows a willingness on many levels, from many stakeholders, to broaden and apply traditions in a new way that fosters mutual understanding. “We need to train men and women,” says PPTI trainee Kelera Nai Cokanasiga, who heads House of Sarah, a counseling service in Suva, Fiji, administered by the Association of Anglican Women. “We can’t only help one side. They have to live together. That is peacebuilding.” Cokanasiga sees a great need for the clergy to become advocates for women, and ecumenical programs such as PPTI offer ways for
this training to begin. “This [PPTI] training has provided a great impact in all lines of the work I have done,” says Cokanasiga. From using conflict analysis to facilitating circle processes with women traumatized by domestic violence, she says the skills learned in PPTI have helped her train other counselors and work with survivors as well. Among the diverse denominations served by PPTI’s trainings are leaders of the Methodist Church, the largest denomination on the island, connected to 34% of the population (and 66% of the indigenous Fijians), according to the last census in 1996.10 In Fiji, a history of politically led subjugation of the Methodist church has made lifting up and valuing voices of all citizens a priority for The Rev. Jerry Waqainabete, supervisor of the Wesley district (English-speaking) churches in Fiji, who recently spoke on gender-based violence and climate change at the UN headquarters in New York City. “We can never win this struggle for empowering women if you sit in the back of the room,” he tells women at church meetings. “I tell them, ‘Come up here. When we sit at the table, we are all at the same table.’” Elizabeth Leasiolago, who is married to a Samoan pastor getting a doctorate at Pacific Theological College, says, “I used to wonder what I could do to help my husband.” But after trainings at PPTI, she says she now recognizes “the skills I have and the changes I can help make in issues that we need to pay attention to. When we return to Samoa, I plan to reach out to women in the congregation and to help them see that they can also make changes.” — Lauren Jefferson
9 The examples in this paragraph and the preceding one come from “Confronting the Truth for a Better Solomon Islands,” which is Vol. III of the Final Report of the “Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” published February 2012. (pacificpolicy.org/files/2013/04/ Solomon-Islands-TRC-Final-Report-Vol-3.pdf )
10 A 1996 census by the Fiji Island Bureau of Statistics provides the most recent data of population by religion and race. A 2007 census tallied only population by religion. These statistics may be found at: www.spc.int/prism/fjtest/Social/religion_stats.htm
PHOTOS by Eliki N. Ravutia
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Sowing peace via women across the South Pacific As is true around the world, women in the Pacific Islands are often leaders in organizations that can contribute to peace, yet they tend to work in unsupported and invisible roles. The Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding aims to inspire, educate and create a needed safe space for women to dialogue, gain support and develop action steps. Noting that short training sessions had a limited effect on women’s abilities as peacemakers, Koila Costello-Olsson, MA ’05, was an early proponent of a program focusing on women’s peacebuilding leadership. In June of 2011, she attended the consultation at EMU with 18 experienced global peacebuilders (including 2011 Nobel Peace laureate and fellow CJP graduate Leymah Gbowee) that developed the broad outlines of the Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program (WPLP). Jan Jenner, MA ’99, was its founding director. WPLP’s first class began in 2012, with 13 participants from Africa and three from the South Pacific. Class 2 included 16 participants from the South Pacific region and five from East Africa. Class 3, which began coursework at SPI 2014, is composed of eight women from Kenya.1 A glance at a half-dozen of the WPLP graduates shows the way they are seeded throughout the South Pacific, from a prime minister’s office and a branch of juvenile justice to women’s rights groups and a theological college: Elizabeth Krishna, a lay sister in the Catholic Church, has worked in the office of the prime minister of Fiji under the current and previous three office-holders. She serves on the board of the ecumenical group Interfaith Search Fiji, which brings together 19 religious groups, including Christians, Hindus and Muslims, in an effort to build “bridges of understanding.” In 2016, at age 54, Krishna hopes to retire and prepare herself for further peacebuilding work by completing a master’s degree at EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. Patricia Galama Gure, in the first cohort, is now deputy director for juvenile justice in Papua New Guinea, where she manages staff dealing with young people, aged 7 through 17, who come into conflict with the law. “I promote the use of a restorative justice approach,” she said in an email. “And I am heavily involved in collaboration or partnership initiatives within the communities.” Menka Goundan entered WPLP as a communications and research officer at PCP and now works in a similar position for Fiji Women’s Rights Movement. 1 Funded by Bread for the World, Conciliation Resources, and the European Union.
Training and empowering women are goals of the Women's Peacebuilding Leadership Program in the South Pacific.
Ana-Latu Dickson works at the Pacific Theological College in Suva, Fiji Islands, coordinating its pastoral counseling program and providing mentorship to church ministers, lay workers and community practitioners who are students in the program. She also coordinates the EVAW program (Elimination of Violence against Women/girls), which provides training to church ministers, lay workers and community practitioners. Tarusila Bradburg is co-coordinator of the Pacific Youth Council, an organization that works with national youth councils or congresses in 10 Pacific nations, based at the Secretariat for Pacific Community. Georgia Clarinda Tako Molia is on the executive committee of Young Women in Parliament, which aims to see women stand for election, be elected fairly (amid the common practice of vote buying by powerful male candidates), and be among the first women to serve in the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands. She feels inspired to work with another WPLP colleague “to establish our very own peace institution for the Solomon Islands in the next three years. I have already started the dialogue with key people in the government and non-government sector to gather information/data to start the network and build from there.”2 These WPLP women agree that the first change they experienced in undergoing peacebuilding training was on a personal level. “God has to be moving somewhere,” Bradburg said. “We see it and feel it as it transforms us. You have to journey within it and sometimes the changes cannot be spoken. We have to value that space, because this learning journey is so different and so much more than the projects we are involved in and the work we do.” — Lauren Jefferson 2 There is precedence for a national-level peacebuilding institute emerging from a regional one – the Korea Peacebuilding Institute was founded in 2012 by some South Korean members of the Northeast Asia Peacebuilding Institute, which started four years earlier.
PHOTO by Eliki N. Ravutia
NARPI & KOPI 2008 & 2012 • SOUTH KOREA Reducing militarization in Northeast Asia, person by person IN MID-OCTOBER 2014, winter’s chill had arrived in South Korea. Inside a spacious conference room on the main floor of a newish multi-story building, 14 teachers were chatting animatedly about ways to be restorative in their lives and classrooms. They were participants in an advanced workshop on restorative justice sponsored by the Korea Peacebuilding Institute (KOPI). The glass-walled room was in the heart of Bundang-gu, a section of the Seoul capital region known for its luxury high-rise condominiums and high-tech companies. That evening, in an equally spacious room on the second floor of a neighboring building, about 50 people gathered to inaugurate the southern branch of KOPI with speeches, refreshments and socializing. This KOPI branch is anchored in upscale Bundang-gu to make it accessible to Seoul-area teachers, counselors and administrators who recently became interested in non-violent ways to forge harmony in their schools. “Two years ago, nobody had heard the term ‘restorative discipline,’” workshop leader Jungki Seo tells a Peacebuilder reporter. “Here especially in Gyeonggi province [which surrounds the city of Seoul and adjacent Bundang-gu], the schools have adopted restorative discipline as the main way of addressing conflict.” This interest developed after capital-area school leaders decided that hitting students would no longer be permitted. Questions arose. Could teachers control recalcitrant or even violent students, without military-style punishments, exercises in humiliation, or expulsion? At about the same time, stories were circulating in South Korea’s media about the high rate of suicide among the country’s teens, often attributed to bullying, but also to the extreme pressure to excel on academic tests. Newly formed KOPI stepped forward with this answer: To intensively train interested school personnel (who would then train others) in the principles and practices articulated in the
“Korean society has nurtured a violent culture in schools. Power is top down. Students are expected to focus on their grades to the exclusion of healthy relationships.” Korean translation of The Little Book of Restorative Discipline for Schools: Teaching Responsibility; Creating Caring Climates by Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz and Judy H. Mullet, plus several other titles in the Little Book series. 1 “Our minimum goal is to create safe spaces where people can gather to deal with sensitive issues,” says KOPI director Jae Young Lee, MA '03. “Korean society has nurtured a violent culture in schools. Power is top down. Students are expected to focus on their grades to the exclusion of healthy relationships.” Jungki Seo is the head of this new branch of KOPI, which is 15 miles from the main KOPI office in Deokso. Seo stepped away from university teaching to commit himself fully to co-founding KOPI in 2012 and being a key trainer for the school initiative. In addition to holding a PhD in anthropology, Seo completed three courses at EMU’s 2008 Summer Peacebuilding Institute, includ1 Jae Young Lee co-translated into Korean the Little Book of Restorative Discipline. Other Korean Anabaptists translated these Little Book titles: … of Restorative Justice by Howard Zehr, … of Trauma Healing by Carolyn Yoder, … of Conflict Transformation by John Paul Lederach. … of Strategic Peacebuilding by Lisa Schirch, … of Circle Processes by Kay Pranis. In addition, Lee edited the translation of Changing Lenses – A New Focus for Crime and Justice by Howard Zehr.
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Jae Young Lee, MA '03, a founding leader of both NARPI and KOPI
ing restorative justice with Howard Zehr and trauma healing with Nancy Good (Sider). In mid-2014 he returned to EMU and became certified as a trainer of STAR (Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience). To complete the entire series of trainings, school personnel must commit themselves to 128 hours of KOPI coursework over about a year, divided into introductory, intermediate and advanced levels. The introductory level costs the equivalent of about $200 (U.S.) for 24 hours. Completion of the whole series adds up to $1,450. In 2014, 200 people started at the introductory level and 30 went all the way through the advanced level. The schools have paid for some of these trainings, but many participants have dug into their own pockets for it. And yet there are more who want this training throughout Gyeonggi province than KOPI can handle.
Adapting to changing circumstances The small group of low-paid visionaries steering the KOPI boat have learned over time to tack with the prevailing winds, always heading in the direction they desire in terms of building peace on the Korean peninsula (indeed in the whole Northeast Asia region), but understanding that their journey may look like zig-zagging, even backtracking at times. KOPI has grown from four staff members to 18 since it was founded in 2012. Most of these staffers work from two rooms, plus a small adjoining kitchen, in Deokso – a moderately priced, edging-into-farmland suburban city just east of Seoul. KOPI is focused heavily these days on spreading restorative practices through area schools and, via young people and their mentors, into the wider community. In addition to leading KOPI, Lee coordinates the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI), founded in 2008. NARPI rotates three intensive weeks of summertime training among locations in countries that don’t always get along on the official level – so far NARPI has been held in South Korea (twice), Japan and China. Mongolia is the site of the 2015 summer session,
Jungki Seo, co-founder of the Korea Peacebuilding Institute
hosted by a local organizing committee.2 The roots of both KOPI and NARPI (both explicitly secular organizations) can be traced to an organization of Mennonitestyle Christians – the Korea Anabaptist Center founded by Lee, Kyong Jung Kim and Tim Froese, in 2001.3 Wanting to promote a cultural shift toward peace in the region but short of funds, the Korea Anabaptist Center decided to raise money by launching a for-profit, English-language training institute in 2004. Staffed largely by fresh graduates from Mennonite colleges in North America, Connexus did well until the end of 2011 by catering to financially secure professionals in Seoul. Buoyed by the proceeds of Connexus, Lee was able to experiment, trying a variety of ways to introduce peacebuilding concepts into the military-oriented, hierarchical culture of South Korea. For about six years, he tried offering his services and giving talks at no or low cost to churches, schools and judicial officials. “Sometimes six or seven people would show up, sometimes 20 people would show up,” he says. “I didn’t have high expectations, so I wasn’t disappointed if only six or seven came.” For two or three years Lee taught teachers mediation skills to use within their schools. But the teachers had no official backing – no official time off to pursue mediation and little top-level support for applying it. So they drifted away. In 2006, Lee got a breakthrough. The government agency responsible for Seoul’s courts and family issues asked Lee, in cooperation with the Women Making Peace group, to run a pilot project of using a restorative approach for handling juvenile 2 NARPI’s 11-person steering committee currently consists of five people from Japan, two from China, two from South Korea, one from Mongolia, and one from Taiwan. Each year the NARPI Summer Peacebuilding Training is hosted by volunteers native to the location where the session is held. But NARPI’s main organizing team – behind the website, main telephone line, communications, and accounting – is housed within the office shared with KOPI. 3 See the following article on Jae Young Lee’s journey to peacebuilding via Mennonite universities in North America. “Anabaptist“ is often used as an umbrella term for Mennonites and kindred pacifist-Christian sects.
PHOTOS courtesy of NARPI (left) and Jin Song (right)
“We decided to try another path – to focus on working at change at the community level through local schools, local teachers, local young people and local families.” offenders. “Everybody got excited,” Lee says. “Over two or three years, we developed 20 or so trained volunteer mediators.” In 2010, most of the mediators Lee trained were hired as official court-system mediators, soon joined by others not trained by Lee. “The number of mediators grew so fast, they hired anybody whatsoever,” he says. “The courts were looking for quick fixes, rather than investing in addressing the root causes of offenses.” Another problem: the head judge changed on an annual basis (South Korea’s way of combatting judicial corruption). But the unfortunate result, says Lee, is that he would spend a year educating a head judge about restorative justice, only to see that judge leave and be replaced by a less understanding judge, requiring Lee to spend the next year repeating the process. “There was no long-term stability, no deep change in the judicial system,” Lee says. “So we decided to try another path – to focus on working at change at the community level through local schools, local teachers, local young people, and local families.” At about the time Lee’s court-system work was coming to an end, members of Seoul’s business community stopped enrolling in English-language classes at Connexus, a shift attributed to the worldwide recession. Income could no longer cover expenses, especially in the high-rent district where Connexus held its classes.
Crisis and recovery Crisis time. Hours of prayer, conversation, and soul-searching led the Korea Anabaptist Center to a momentous decision to separate itself from Connexus in 2011. Mennonites in the United States lent the Korean Anabaptists $10,000 interest-free to wrap up their Connexus operations downtown (money since repaid).4 The Anabaptist Center shifted to Chuncheon City, two hours northeast of Seoul, the home of the first Anabaptist Church in Korea, Jesus Village Church. Jae Young Lee, Karen Spicher ’02, and the other Anabaptists who chose to remain in the area of Seoul reassembled themselves under the secular mantle of a new organization, Korea Peacebuilding Institute.5 They put the main office of KOPI – joined by NARPI – in much cheaper rental space in Deokso, about 15
4 Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Mission Network in the U.S., and Mennonite Church Canada Witness have at different points between 2001 and 2015 all stepped forward with support for projects envisioned by Korea’s Anabaptists. 5 Jae Young Lee gained a full-time partner in 2010 when he married Karen Spicher, a fellow EMU alumnus who arrived in South Korea as a Connexus teacher in 2007.
Karen Spicher '02 went to Seoul as a teacher and now calls it home after marrying Jae Young Lee. They have two young daughters.
miles east of downtown Seoul.6 Government entities, like schools and courts, feel more comfortable doing business with secular organizations like KOPI than with overtly religious organizations, explains Lee. Connexus was reconfigured as an after-school language program in the suburbs for families who wanted their children to learn English from native speakers in a non-competitive atmosphere (making it unlike the highly competitive, rote-learning, test-driven approach of many other private after-school programs). In its first two years, the reconfigured Connexus school [www.connexus.co.kr/English] grew from 10 students to 105, from two teachers to six. The Deosko group of Anabaptists didn’t ditch their religion. They worship on Sunday mornings in an egalitarian fashion, with a warmly relaxed gathering around a table organized by a rotation of lay people, followed by a shared lunch. On the morning of October 19, for example, 17 adults and five children at the worship session explored this theme through Scripture readings, hymn singings, prayers and conversation: “Your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, your endurance inspired by your home in Jesus.” Someone made reference to the number of conscientious objectors (600 was the figure) serving jail terms in South Korea due to 6 Three years later, in October 2014, KOPI opened a branch office back in an upscale business district, in response to the growing demand for teacher training in restorative discipline, as discussed earlier in this article.
PHOTO by Jin Song
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Manshik Shin, a teacher who has attended most NARPI sessions
their refusal to serve in the military, including a member of this Anabaptist church group. “We’re not free from violent structures,” murmured one attendee.
Communal-flavored way of life As of late 2014, Lee, Spicher and their daughters Lomie and Aurie, were living in a relatively new cluster of low-rise buildings near Deokso. Their three-bedroom apartment is also home to Sarah Wilson, an English teacher who had arrived in South Korea several years ago as a MCC volunteer with SALT (Serving and Learning Together). They frequently host visitors. Spill-over guests are dispatched across the hall to a bedroom in the apartment where Lee’s elderly parents live. In apartments above and below them, as well as in a neighboring building, live many others connected to KOPI, NARPI or Connexus. Typically, five staffers share one apartment. Connexus teachers are mostly fresh grads from Goshen, EMU, Canadian Mennonite University and other such Anabaptist institutions in North America, who sign up for at least a year of teaching in return for lodging, a food allowance and monthly salary of $1,000. On most mornings, almost everyone in these residences heads to work in the same commercial building, characterized by small ground-level stores lining a busy street. Occupying much of the fifth floor, the classrooms and offices of Connexus are about 30 feet away from KOPI’s and NARPI’s shared work spaces. At noon everyone in these rooms emerges to enjoy lunch together in a conference room, with staff rotating food preparation in the galley-sized kitchen. The communal-flavored way of living; the latest iteration of income-generating Connexus; the decision to move most of the peacebuilding team from an expensive Seoul neighborhood to comparatively working-class Deokso … These all evolved in 2011, the same year that NARPI held its first three-week summer session in Seoul, with 47 participants, plus 28 staff, from 11 68
Cheryl Woelk, MA '11 (education), teaching at NARPI 2013.
countries.7 “The past year has not been easy,” Spicher said in a Mennonite Mission Network newsletter published soon after the 2011-12 transitions. She added, however, that it had been “a faith-affirming experience to witness God’s provision of everything we need and more.” Spicher told Peacebuilder that her husband has “no fear of the unknown.” In fact, “moving and changing are energizing to him.” Lee doesn’t come across as a pushy person. He just has lots of ideas, a way of articulating them well, and boundless energy. Everyone says Connexus and peacebuilding institute decisions are made collectively and generally by consensus. Spicher described Lee’s leadership style as “visioning together.” The latest vision is to move the entire Deokso operation – KOPI, NARPI and Connexus – into space formerly occupied by a restaurant on a nearby busy thoroughfare. “Jae thinks having a coffee shop would provide us with more financial stability,” Spicher said. Yet, “he’s not a micro-manager,” she emphasized. “He needs detail people around him. His role is to shift to where he is most needed. If others are doing fine with their work, he’s fine in giving them the space to do it their way.” Spicher, with her native command of English, does the communications for NARPI, which uses English as the language that permits most attendees from the Northeast Asia region to understand each other. A volunteer staff keeps the books balanced. Well-trained facilitators run most of the workshops, some brought in from other parts of the world, sometimes including people connected to EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, such as Howard Zehr, Carl Stauffer and Al Fuertes. 7 In the summer of 2014, NARPI was held in Nanjing, China, organized by Liu Cheng, a Nanjing University history professor, assisted by students. Seventy-three people from nine countries were in attendance, either as participants, facilitators or staff.
PHOTOS by Bonnie Price Lofton (left) and courtesy of NARPI (right)
NARPI organizers reach out to military personnel, realizing that they too have their stories to tell. Here 2013 NARPI participants are visiting a site along South Korea's border with North Korea, a heavily militarized region.
‘Everything starts from one person’
historical traumas that one participating nationality may have Of the 17 adults who attended the October 19 worship service in inflicted on another. Shin was moved by the stories told by the NARPI/KOPI conference room in Deokso, seven had been Chinese survivors of the WWII-era massacres by Japanese troops through at least one of NARPI’s intensive summer sessions. in Nanjing. And by hearing from the survivors of the atom bomb Manshik Shin, for example, has participated in NARPI for dropped by the United States on Hiroshima. And from Korean three of the four years it has been held. After attending the first “comfort women,” used sexually by Japanese soldiers. NARPI gathering in Seoul in 2011, Shin traveled to Hiroshima, It is rare, explains Shin, for people from different countries to Japan, for NARPI 2012, and to Nanjing, China, for NARPI 2014. meet and intentionally and caringly talk about the harms inflicted For Shin, this was a major investment, both in money and time. on others in the name of one’s own patriotism. The ultimate He’s a 44-year-old high school history teacher, with a wife and lessons, though, were ones of hope. Even the victims asked that three children, 9, 11 and 14. The family must travel over an hour they serve as inspiration for “never again,” for peace. They held no to attend Sunday morning worship sessions in Deokso. rancor. Shin says he got interested in NARPI when he took a restorShin now believes that “everything starts from one person,” and ative justice course in 2011 co-taught by Jae Young Lee and Jungki he’s that person in his 700-student school. He has introduced Seo. “Sometimes there is conflict between students, sometimes restorative circles in that school and he’s training facilitators for between students and teachers, sometimes between teachers and those circles. parents. I learned how to deal with this conflict. He is interested in egalitarian churches now. “In Korean “I learned that the punishments the school was giving students churches, the pastor is the focus. He gives long sermons and – like making them clean the playground or classroom – were everyone sits and listens to him.” not changing their behavior. And we kept offenders and victims Shin motioned to his present surroundings, where he had separated and didn’t spend much energy to help the victims. After joined 16 others in worship an hour previously. There was a I understood restorative justice, I felt I could understand what’s simple multi-purpose room with a homemade wooden baby’s wrong among our Korean society.” crib by the conference table and, on the wall, a Martyrs Mirror Shin paused and pointed at a book lying on a conference table. sketch of Mennonite Dirk Willems rescuing the man who had It was the Korean version of Changing Lenses by Howard Zehr. been hunting him, labeled with the words “Love your enemies “After I read it, I could understand what to do – it got my imagiand bless them that curse you.” And Shin commented, “Frankly nation. It gave me insights.” speaking, I like these people, these Mennonites. They are Each NARPI session includes field trips and talks that allow culturally different in a way that I like.” participants to gingerly explore (and seek to begin healing) — Bonnie Price Lofton PHOTO courtesy of NARPI
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From making war to making peace He peered through binoculars intently. His life, after all, might be at stake. Through the optics he could see the enemy smoking a cigarette, just over the border. Jae Young Lee, 16 years later, remembers the absurdity of that moment. North Korea’s “beloved leader,” Kim Il Sung, had just died, and both militaries – north and south – along the “demilitarized zone” were on red alert. “We had been given orders to shoot anything that moved in the river [dividing the armies]. We were all very quiet as we dealt with our own thoughts and fears of life and death. I thought, ‘I don’t even know his name. I don’t hate him, but if war broke out, I would shoot him and he would shoot me.’” Lee’s transformation from watchful sniper to dedicated, savvy peacebuilder was over a decade in the making. After he completed his 26-month stint as a draftee in the South Korean army, his father suggested Lee might want to get some education in North America. Forty-five years earlier, in the aftermath of the Korean War, his father had worked as a farm manager in a vocational training school for orphaned boys. The school was run by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), which led his father to suggest that Lee apply to a Mennonite college. In 1996, Lee found himself in classes at Canadian Mennonite Bible College (now Canadian Mennonite University) in Winnipeg. One of his professors teased Lee that he was the first student to wear camouflaged fatigues to his class. “They were the most comfortable pants I owned,” Lee now says with a chuckle. In Canada, Lee kept hearing people talking about, and praying for, world peace. “One day I saw 20 old ladies packing health kits for North Korea. I asked them why they were doing this and they said, ‘There is famine in North Korea and we know that someone out there will get help from these kits.’ I cried because I realized that I myself had no concern, but these Mennonites cared.” In 2000, Lee headed south to attend the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at Eastern Mennonite University. His first class was “Introduction to Conflict Transformation” taught by John Paul Lederach. His second class was “Restorative Justice” with Howard Zehr. His third class was “Philosophy and Praxis of Reconciliation” with Hizkias Assefa. Lee had ended up in classes taught by three of the legendary professors of the program. The experience settled the matter of what he wanted to study. With financial support from MCC and his parents, Lee completed a master’s degree in conflict transformation at EMU in 2003. In Seoul in 2001, Lee joined a fellow graduate of Canadian Mennonite Bible College, Kyong Jung Kim, and a Canadian Mennonite service worker, Tim Froese, to found the Korean Anabaptist Center. Lee became its peace program director.
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Jae Young Lee, MA '03, speaks to two teachers at a KOPI workshop on restorative disciplinary practices for schools.
Lee began to envision ways to foster a paradigm shift in Northeast Asia, from an atmosphere of animosity and militarism to one where both national security and human security are guaranteed. And thus the idea of a regional peacebuilding institute was born. Northeast Asia contains more than a quarter of the world’s people and will likely emerge as the center of global economic and military power in the coming decades. In Lee’s view it is critical for the region to transform its “long-standing animosity and mistrust” created by “wars and military confrontations.” By the fall of 2010, Lee had visited China, Japan and Taiwan to build interest in the formation of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI) and had secured funding sufficient to launch NARPI in the summer of 2011 from MCC, Asian Community Trust, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Niwano Peace Foundation, and the Mennonite Mission Network. This is adapted from an article by Earl and Pat Hostetter Martin ’64, MA ’98, which originally appeared in the summer 2010 issue of Crossroads, EMU’s alumni magazine. Pat was on the staff (eventually the director) of EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute from 1998 through 2008.
PHOTO by Jin Song
CSOP 2009 • CANADA Helping Canadians to face difficult issues
IN 2001, Jarem Sawatsky headed from Virginia to his home in Winnipeg, Canada, with two key assets: a master’s degree in conflict transformation and the vision of a peacebuilding school similar to CJP’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute. Eight years later, after earning a PhD in law, Sawatsky saw his dream become a reality when he became the founding co-director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) at Canadian Mennonite University (CMU). When CSOP takes place in June 2015, it could very well be the school’s most successful year yet. Since Sawatsky helped start the school in 2009, it has grown steadily. Fifty people enrolled in CSOP in its inaugural year. In the summer of 2014, more than 200 students from around the world gathered on campus at CMU over two weeks for a selection of five-day courses. CSOP courses cover various approaches to peacebuilding, justice, reconciliation, conflict resolution and development, and are taught by local, national and international peacebuilders. Among the student body, you’re just as likely to find a 41-yearold church leader from Botswana as you are a 21-year-old CMU student from Brandon, Manitoba; the school aims to serve practitioners, professionals, activists, students, non-governmental organizations and faith-based groups alike. Fifteen years ago at SPI, Sawatsky joined others in talking about the value of starting regional peacebuilding institutes all over the globe, which would cut down on the cost of travel for participants, as well as lower the ecological impact of travel on the environment. This idea germinated in his mind for a half-dozen years, until Sawatsky was a faculty member at CMU and approached univer-
How to live with, and eventually die from, Huntington’s disease gracefully might be one of the biggest lessons Jarem Sawatsky and those who surround him teach and learn from each other. sity administrators about developing CSOP. “Educating for peace and justice” is the first of four commitments CMU has outlined as central to its mission, so getting administration as well as the university’s other faculty on board was not difficult. What makes the school uniquely Canadian, aside from its location in Winnipeg, is that key themes CSOP courses wrestle with include relations between settler and indigenous peoples, as well as care for the environment – topics at the forefront in Canadian society. When developing courses, Sawatsky and Valerie Smith, CSOP’s co-director since the beginning, approached teachers and asked them: “If you could teach anything, what would it be?” If the answer to that question might be a course that meets people’s needs, Sawatsky said, "Let’s make it a reality." “We’ve tried to run courses that deeply serve the needs of peacebuilders, and bring in excellent faculty and treat them really nicely… so that it’s a work of hospitality and loving kindness peacebuilder ■ 71 emu.edu/cjp
Jarem Sawatsky, MA '01, is the co-founder and former co-director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding
and compassion and risk,” Sawatsky said. “(We) then engage the students in the same kind of manner.”
Living as if time is short Sawatsky’s compassion developed at an early age. Born in February 1973 in Richmond, British Columbia (in western Canada), he is the second of two children born to Len and Donelle. His parents grew up in the Mennonite Brethren church. By the time Sawatsky and his brother, Andrew, came along, Sawatsky’s parents were “former hippies trying to build a Christian community lifestyle.” Social justice and activism were important, and Sawatsky can recall travelling with his family to anti-nuclear protests in nearby Washington State. Sawatsky’s parents – particularly Len – were usually on the fringes of the church, and liked it that way. When Sawatsky was 5, the family moved to Hamilton, Ontario, to start a house church as well as a magazine similar to Sojourners, a progressive Christian journal published in Washington D.C. Four years later, the family relocated to Winnipeg’s Wolseley neighborhood, where Sawatsky’s parents helped found Grain of Wheat, an ecumenical church community. Sawatsky attended Gordon Bell High School, which he compares to the United Nations – most of his friends were from different cultures and faith traditions, something he cherished. Sawatsky was an overachiever. When he graduated from Gordon Bell, he had earned enough credits to graduate twice. This trend continued in university. He earned his master’s degree in half the usual amount of time, and completed his PhD in two years, five years faster than most students. As a teenager and undergraduate student, Sawatsky came to love the work of Jean Vanier and Henri Nouwen – academically gifted Roman Catholic writers who spent a significant amount of time befriending people with developmental disabilities. Sawatsky has always been uncomfortable with the idea of striving for the kind of status typically accompanying his level of academic achievement. In Vanier and Nouwen, he found two kindred spirits. 72
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Wendy Kroeker, SPI '02, is Sawatsky's successor as co-director of CSOP; she brings extensive experience with other institutes.
“These two academics had incredibly sharp minds, but also knew sharp compassion was something totally different… and gave up the university to live in community with people with disabilities,” Sawatsky said. “I loved that. I loved the tragedy of it.” While earning his undergraduate degree at Canadian Mennonite Bible College, one of CMU’s predecessor colleges, Sawatsky was able to put theological language to the practices he had been exposed to growing up in community. He was also able to further engage Vanier and Nouwen’s writing in his coursework. Sawatsky takes comfort in Vanier and Nouwen’s work today, as his body and mind slowly degenerate as a result of having the gene for Huntington’s disease, an incurable neurological disorder. In 2011, Sawatsky tested positive for Huntington’s. On the recommendation of his neurologist, he left his university position after the 2014 session of the peacebuilding school and went on long-term disability. The diagnosis was not a complete surprise: Huntington’s is hereditary. His mother, grandmother and a few of his greatuncles had it, so Sawatsky knew he might some day develop it as well. Huntington’s causes progressively worsening physical and mental effects that, over the span of 10 to 30 years from diagnosis, become fatal. “Everyone kind of thinks bad things won’t happen to them, but I always thought of it [developing Huntington’s] as a very real possibility,” Sawatsky said over cups of green tea at his Winnipeg home in November 2014. “I’m kind of grateful for that now. “As a child, I looked at my hands and said, ‘There’s going to be a time when you can’t control any of this,’” he continued. “That leads to a different kind of awareness of how to enjoy life.”
Weeks together are best Sawatsky calls his time at EMU a gift. As a student, he valued being able to learn from instructors who were not only academics, but who were out in the field, working as peacebuilders. EMU provided Sawatsky not only with inspiration to create CSOP, but also equipped him with ways of teaching and being a peacebuilder. The stories he heard from both students and faculty PHOTOS by Matt Sawatzky (left) and courtesy of NARPI (right)
creativity and imagination happen. “Those sparks don’t occur when you have a formulaic package, so be willing to invite a variety of voices,” Kroeker said. “Make sure you’re porous and you’re open.” As a visiting instructor, Kroeker has worked at peacebuilding schools founded by CJP alumni elsewhere in the world, including the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in the Philippines and the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, based in Seoul, South Korea.
Facing the darkness head on What does post-CMU life look like for Sawatsky? He is still in the midst of figuring that out. Sawatsky has always done his best to maintain a work-life balance that allows him to be present and available to Rhona, his wife of 17 years, and Sara and Koila, the Jarem Sawatsky with his twin 13-year-old daughters, Sara and Koila, and his wife of 17 years, Rhona couple’s 13-year-old twins. When Rhona, a teacher, and the girls returned to school this past fall, Sawatsky began spending time going on walks, writing are stories he tried to honor in his own research, teaching and poetry and cooking for the family. He has also been co-editing practice as a peacebuilder. a book of essays by former CSOP instructors that is in its final “That’s been a very important gift to me that I’ve been grateful stages. to have received,” he said. He says his diagnosis in July 2014 was a relief because at that With Sawatsky stepping down from his responsibilities, Wendy time, he had already been seeing symptoms in himself that made Kroeker, instructor in peace and conflict transformation studies it difficult to keep working at CMU. He’s known for a while that at the university, has joined Val Smith as co-director of the CSOP. this day might come. Kroeker, also a SPI alumnus, says she hopes CSOP will one “When I helped start the Canadian School of Peacebuilding, I day run for three or four weeks each summer. This would allow never assumed I’d be around for a long time afterward,” he said. students to get to know each other even better than they already “I wanted to be able to let go while people still remembered somedo, and allow for more conversations outside of the classroom thing positive, rather than just be grateful that I’m gone.” – something Kroeker witnessed at EMU that she thought was Huntington’s is a dark disease. It includes psychological elements particularly meaningful. similar to schizophrenia, memory issues akin to Alzheimer’s and “You go into one of the lounges at SPI and you have an Israeli movement problems more exaggerated than Parkinson’s. and a Palestinian just going at it in terms of discussing issues in Sawatsky and his family are facing the darkness head on. He the Middle East,” Kroeker said. and Rhona have been open with their daughters about what is Continuing to offer courses that engage Canadian issues such going on, and they are free to ask any questions they have. as applying restorative justice practices to indigenous/settler Sawatsky also finds comfort in laughing about the situation. relations and colonial legacies are also part of the plan moving While at a family gathering in his brother’s backyard this past forward. summer, a tremor caused him to spill some of his drink on his lap “We’re trying to choose courses that we as Canadians also need just as his nieces approached. to struggle with,” Kroeker said. “We invite [people from other “I thought, there’s nowhere to hide from this, so I looked [my parts of the world] to be part of the conversation with us.” brother] right in the eye and poured the whole thing on my One of Kroeker’s key pieces of advice for anyone interested crotch,” he said, chuckling at the memory. “Part of figuring out in starting their own peacebuilding institute is to establish how to embrace the elephant in the room, for us anyway, has connections, and build relationships with, NGOs that can benefit been trying to become friends with it. That includes some, I guess from what is being offered. If an organization believes what you what others might call, dark humor. It’s become a good way of are doing is worthwhile, it will send its staff to take your courses. normalizing it.” CSOP has been able to build relationships with NGOs both How to live with, and eventually die from, Huntington’s graceinside and outside Winnipeg. fully might be one of the biggest lessons Sawatsky and those who “We have some participants from Winnipeg that have come surround him teach and learn from each other. every year,” Kroeker said. “This is now their place, their school, “I find there’s kind of a freedom in letting go,” he said of his and they’re excited about what they’re learning.” retirement. “The things that you think are important and part of She adds that including a diverse set of voices is key to a what makes you, and who you are, all of a sudden don’t matter.” successful peacebuilding institute. When the community helps “You can mourn that,” he added, “or you can embrace it and influence what sorts of courses are offered and when teachers and say, OK: How do I enjoy maybe an even more meaningful path?” participants learn from each other, that’s when possibilities for — Aaron Epp PHOTO by Matt Sawatzky
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Familiar feeling + fresh rituals = moving experience When Jarem Sawatsky wanted to bring trauma coursework to the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), he turned to two experts he knew well: Vernon Jantzi, who had taught Sawatsky when he was a CJP student a dozen years earlier, and fellow CJP alumnus Elaine Zook Barge. As CJP’s lead instructors for Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR), Zook Barge and Jantzi are in high demand around the world, but they said they couldn’t refuse a request from Sawatsky, who co-founded CSOP in 2009. They accepted it even before they learned that the 2014 session of the school would be Sawatsky’s last as co-director, due to his declining health. (CJP restorative justice expert Howard Zehr also agreed to teach at CSOP 2014). From the first minutes of the opening ceremony of CSOP, Zook Barge and Jantzi felt on familiar ground. Similar to SPI, CSOP began with a group ritual and introductions. But the ritual was one they hadn’t seen at SPI, and they loved it. “We all put some grass seeds into soil within a former oil barrel,” said Jantzi. “We were told that we were helping to transform this soil into something productive and nurturing.” At the closing ceremony that wrapped up the week, everyone could see shoots of grass poking through the soil. “It felt like the opening and closing rituals were bookends,” Jantzi said. “It was a moving experience.” STAR was popular at CSOP, capped at 24 participants in the class. The two dozen enrollees were predominately female, and their age range was wide, 19 to 85 years. Undergraduates comprised more than half of those enrolled, which is unusual compared to other STAR trainings. The undergrads were taking the course for college credit, requiring them to produce two papers. “We spent a whole lot of time grading papers,” Zook Barge said with a shake of her head, as if “never again.” She quickly added, though: “A lot of really good personal stuff came out of the papers that wasn’t shared in class.” The young adults didn’t have the life experiences that STAR participants usually bring to the trainings, making it difficult for them to connect what they were learning with happenings in broader society, said Jantzi. “But it was good to see the way they became reflective about their life experiences to date.” Jantzi, whose memories of SPI date to its founding years, said the lean staffing at CSOP reminded him of SPI two decades ago, when a tiny group of dedicated people were stretched to their maximum. “As far as I could see, [co-director] Valerie Smith and two student interns handled almost everything themselves – registration, food, snacks, taking photographs.” About 200 people attended CSOP at some point during
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Elaine Zook Barge, MA '03, and Vernon Jantzi are CJP's lead instructors for Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience.
its two five-day sessions. The structure of the day was similar to SPI, with coffee breaks that gathered people from all the classes, except that CSOP didn’t restrict these to morning breaks. They had a group break in the afternoon too. One other difference: CSOP holds classes for five straight days; almost all of SPI’s classes last for seven days, broken by a weekend. “We copied the opening ceremonies, coffee breaks and group photographs from EMU,” Sawatsky told his EMU friends with a smile. His friends smiled back: that meant SPI was doing its job well, if its tried-and-true model fit other places and peoples too. — Bonnie Price Lofton
PHOTO by Kara Lofton
Four of the 26 peacebuilders from 11 countries who met at EMU for four days in 2004 to ponder lessons from nine peacebuilding initiatives.
The 2004 meeting of institute leaders Lessons from first and only group gathering Supported by a grant from the United States Institute of Peace, a couple dozen people gathered at EMU for four days in the summer of 2004 to ponder lessons emerging from the first set of peacebuilding initiatives inspired by EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI). Of the nine initiatives, represented by people from 11 countries, five (in addition to SPI) have endured and offer intensive peacebuilding training to this day. Using the names by which they go today, these are the Nairobi Peace Initiative (headquartered in Kenya); West Africa Peacebuilding Institute (Ghana); Africa Peacebuilding Institute (South Africa); the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (Fiji); and the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (Philippines). No institute was able to be immediately self-supporting. SPI, for example, received grant money from the Pew Trust when it was starting, enabling it to hire a separate administration and to have three years in which to build SPI’s reputation and allow it to become self-sufficient. SPI also benefited from a relationship with organizations that identified people who should come for training and funded them. Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) sent 20 to 30 people to SPI in its early years, and Catholic Relief Services sent 10 or more. The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding received $90,000 in seed money from the Winston Foundation when it started in
1998, which enabled it to gain sufficient credibility to launch its annual West Africa Peacebuilding Institute in 2002, supported for its first two years by a Hewlett grant. Four of the five continuing initiatives (except for the Pacific Centre) received financial support from MCC in their early years, often in the form of providing funding for people to be trained at these centers, and sometimes with administrators and staffers paid by MCC.
14 take-aways Fourteen lessons emerged from this gathering of 26 peacebuilders on May 30-June 4, 2004:* These nine lessons have been implemented to some extent in the 10 years since 2004: 1. Institutes need start-up funding for a minimum of three years (and it’s likely to take about 10 years of trying various things to achieve income stability). 2. Partnerships with organizations that can identify and fund participants to the trainings – as MCC or Catholic Relief Services did for SPI initially – are very important, especially when the institute is getting established. 3. Site visits, curriculum sharing and teaching stints by CJP faculty and other outside experts help tremendously in launching peacebuilding initiatives. CJP professor Lisa Schirch, for example, traveled to Fiji in 2001 to help with its first national peace workshop, and both Schirch and Howard Zehr, restorative justice expert at CJP, taught there in 2005 at sessions that fueled interest in launching the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding two years later. 4. Women can be a tremendous force in peacebuilding in that they often function well across ethnic and religious lines, but they need to be empowered, through targeted education, mentoring and support networks, to play that role.
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5. Co-teaching and instructors attending each other’s classes is recommended for cross-fertilization. A common instructor manual helps ensure a standard level of instruction, as was used and continues to be used at the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute. 6. Context-specific materials are best, drawing on indigenous traditions, languages, resources and knowledge, rather than simply transplanting materials developed in North America. 7. Institutes typically emerge as a result of the high energy and vision of a gifted, charismatic person or, in some cases, two people (though co-leadership has not proved enduring). If the institute is to thrive over the long term, however, focus and power must shift from the founding visionary to one of “collective decision-making power” based on transparency. 8. Solidarity and cooperation among peacebuilders – whether from the northern hemisphere or southern – is to be valued. The North remains the home base of the majority of the funders of peacebuilding and has more pedagogical resources. The South is at the growing edge of the practice of peacebuilding. 9. Interacting hospitably and developing relationships are integral to the training of peacebuilders. Institutes should not grow so fast or so large that these qualities are lost. These next five 2004 lessons continued over the following decade to be ones largely not realized: 10. Fledgling institutes with newly hired staff need to focus their attention on one or two strategic priorities in the peacebuilding arena, rather than risk over-extending themselves. (Bridge Builders would be an example of this model in that it has chosen to focus exclusively on conflicts within churches in the United Kingdom.) 11. Positive relations with national governmental bodies should be sought, both for mutual understanding and to lessen organizational difficulties, such as obtaining visas to do peace work and attend trainings. (Four that do significant outreach to governmental bodies, including the police and military, are the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), headquartered in Ghana; JustaPaz in Mozambique; the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute in the Philippines; and the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, headquartered in Fiji.) 12. Links between peacebuilding institutes – and between them and other civil society organizations – need to be strengthened to exchange lessons, maximize their collective impact, and coordinate work. (The Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute, headquartered in South Korea, and the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute have found a way to connect at least annually – each summer a representative of each institute is given a free pass to attend the other’s summer session, which are not scheduled during the same weeks.) 76
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13. Practitioners around the globe need to document their experiences, expanding the field's practice-knowledge and theoretical base, preferably through a regularly published journal. (Practicalities are the problem – practitioners tend to be doers, not academic-style writers in one of the globally dominant languages. And they wonder how they will support themselves if they did choose to step away and shape their experiences into publishable writings.) 14. In-depth socio-economic analyses – incorporating such matters as poverty, lack of education, the impact of climate change – ought to be incorporated into the intervention strategies taught at peacebuilding institutes. (Efforts have been made, but there's still much room for clarity on this matter, especially regarding viable systemic alternatives.)
Women peacebuilders on the upswing Of the foregoing 14 lessons, the one on developing more women peacebuilders has taken flight most dramatically over the last decade. A brief overview: In the early 2000s, WANEP provided support to Liberian social worker Leymah Gbowee, who organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. This grassroots women’s organization was instrumental in ending Liberia’s war in 2003 and facilitating the 2005 election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female president of an African nation. Gbowee was also instrumental in forming two women’s organizations: Women in Peacebuilding Network under WANEP in 2001, followed by the Women Peace and Security Network Africa in 2006. In addition, her Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa gives special attention to educational and leadership opportunities for females in Liberia. In June 2011, a by-invitation meeting at EMU of 18 women from eight nations (including Gbowee, who had earned an MA from CJP in 2007) concluded that there was a need for a program specifically tailored to women and women’s issues in peacebuilding. CJP’s Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program began under the leadership of Jan Jenner, MA ’99 , the following summer with 16 women from East and West Africa and nations in the South Pacific. Today there are 45 alumni or enrollees in this Women’s Peacebuilding Leadership Program, which has been conducted partly at EMU and partly in the women’s home regions. Upon completion, they receive a graduate certificate in conflict transformation. In 2004, representatives of the African Peacebuilding Institute (API) reported “a very low registration by women practitioners.” Ten years later, the situation was markedly different. “For the first time since the start of API in 2001, the number of female instructors sponsored by API exceeded the number of male,” said API’s 2014 report. And the number of female participants at API was at its highest yet: 16 out of 48 (30%). In Fiji, a female graduate of CJP, Koila Costello-Olsson, is the executive director of the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding, which has arranged for 19 to enter CJP’s Women’s Peacebuilding Leader-
Pat Hostetter Martin ’64, MA ’98, staffer and then director of SPI for a total of 10 years, 1998 through 2008
Two of the original visionaries of the Women's Peacebuilding Leadership Program: Leymah Gbowee, MA '07, and Jan Jenner, MA '99
Christina Vertucci, SPI '96 & '98, director of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute, formerly employed by MCC
Koila Costello-Olsson, MA '05, executive director of the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding and frequent SPI instructor
ship Program since 2012. In the Philippines, the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute is headed by Christina Vertucci, a former Mennonite Central Committee worker who attended SPI in 1996 and 1998.
A few unrealized hopes One concern expressed in 2004 – one that bedevils most institutes to this day – is that their funding was not long-term or sustainable. Most depended on outside support in 2004, typically time-limited grants, for more than half of their budget. And the donor pool was small – just five major funders were identified for four of the institutes in 2004. (This may explain why four of the nine institutes/initiatives represented at the 2004 conference do not exist today.) “There is an urgent need to educate more funders on the need and the impact of the institutes,” said the 2004 Tending the Seed report. Donors need to be “constantly involved” in order to PHOTOS courtesy of EMU archives (upper left), Howard Zehr (upper right), Gabrielle Aziza Sagarai (lower left), Michael Sheeler (lower right)
understand the fluidity of conflict situations and the importance of grassroots feedback. To be avoided, if at all possible: “transient donor paradigms” dictating what is done and in what time frame it is done, irrespective of the realities on the ground; plus, onerous reporting mechanisms. Among hopes that have not been realized since 2004, the participants called for a gathering of peace institute representatives every two years to build a worldwide network of like-minded people and to discuss “what has worked and what has not worked.” (The 2004 gathering has not been repeated.) They also called for a “common journal for peacebuilding institutes to encourage peace practitioners to contribute their experiences, for collaboration between regions, and for sharing of resources and skills that have worked in one region and may be applicable in other regions.” This, too, has not emerged. — Bonnie Price Lofton
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2014-15 calls to action by peacebuilding institutes
The enactment of scenarios is often part of the experiential training of peacebuilders, as seen at this 2013 session of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute.
Recurring themes emerged as we prepared this Peacebuilder on SPI-inspired initiatives around the world. We have summarized these as 14 calls to action. They are in addition to the lessons identified by an EMU conference 10 years ago, covered in "The 2004 meeting of institute leaders" on page 75. 1. ADDRESS ENVIRONMENTAL SURVIVABILITY. Rapacious, unfair land and water usage, destructive resource extraction, and climate change are growing contributors to violent conflicts. Peacebuilders need to help empower communities to deal with these issues positively. In the South Pacific, for example, entire communities are already being uprooted as islands disappear under rising waters. Peacebuilders have a role to play in helping newly configured communities to live in harmony with their neighbors while maintaining the fabric of their traditions, families and peoples. 78
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2. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO REACH THE MASSES. “I would be hard-pressed to find a single person in the conflict transformation field who has got a formula for reaching large numbers of people through social media,” said Ron Kraybill as he was wrapping up his UN work in the Philippines in 2014. “This will take time and effort, but it is critical for the field of peacebuilding to envision reaching a half million people in the next three to five years.” 3. INTEGRATE CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION INTO SCHOOL CURRICULA. Young people are our best hope for positive change, yet they are also the best recruits for those pursuing violent agendas. Cultivating young people’s ability to solve problems non-violently – and to recognize efforts to turn them into violent pawns – is as essential as teaching them math, reading and writing. This is the reason for the spread of peace clubs in schools in South Africa and a half-dozen other African countries. PHOTO courtesy of NARPI
4. BE LINKED TO A LARGER INSTITUTION. Peacebuilding institutes that are freestanding, lacking affiliation with, and ongoing support from, a larger “mother” institution, tend to struggle. In the quest for stability, the trend seems to be toward linking peacebuilding institutes with a degree-granting institution of higher education. But it needs to be the right college or university – that is, ones with an underlying philosophy compatible with peacebuilding (and these tend to be faithbased institutions). Otherwise, peace studies may be viewed as expendable when educational fads move in other directions. 5. EXPAND THE FUNDING BASE FOR THIS FIELD. Conflict transformation is still not viewed as an essential and permanent ingredient – as basic as salt – in all recipes for ending war, running organizations and communities, and developing cultures that don’t resort to violence. “In addition to the needs for health, education, shelter and food, donors often forget the basic human need for peace,” says Ali Gohar of Pakistan. Most donor agencies look for results measurable in the short term, which is not how peacebuilding works. In an effort to free themselves from short-sighted donor dependency, a few peacebuilding initiatives have developed income-generating enterprises. An Englishlanguage training institute in South Korea, for example, generates some funding for the Korea Peacebuilding Institute. 6. RECOGNIZE THE IMPACT OF TRAUMA. Cycles of violence emerge from unaddressed trauma. The importance of addressing trauma cannot be over-estimated. This is a worldwide need for billions of people, both on the personal and societal levels. This is why Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) is one of EMU’s fastest-growing programs. 7. ENGAGE WITH GOVERNMENT AND OTHER STATELEVEL ACTORS. At least half of the 12 peacebuilding initiatives have ongoing interactions – often through providing trainings – with civil servants, politicians, and officials of the military, police and judicial systems. There is a synergistic relationship between grassroots civil society and state-level actors: the former can provide impetus for national-level peace processes, as well as help ensure their successful implementation; the latter hammer out the cease fires and peace accords.
9. CONNECT PRACTICE AND THEORY. Most peacebuilding institutes try to provide space for practitioners to delve into peacebuilding theory in order to see the broader picture, to pull back and analyze what they are trying to do, and to ascertain whether they are doing their work effectively. Conversely, academicians gain from putting themselves and their theories to test in the “real world” by collaborating with practitioners linked to these institutes. 10. ENGAGE RELIGIOUS LEADERS. In many places, the institutions with the most local legitimacy and influence are faithbased. Unfortunately, the prevailing Western paradigm is to view religion mainly as a source of divisiveness and violent dogma. The world’s religious leaders are not sufficiently engaged as a potential source of peacebuilding and disaster responsiveness. Places like South Africa and Mozambique show that religious leaders can and do play very positive roles, often in an interfaith manner. Governments, militaries, and international organizations like the UN need to be educated on how to engage positively with religious people. 11. TAP INDIGENOUS PEACE PRACTICES. In every country, in every culture, long-standing peace principles and practices exist, though some must be dug from the memories of the elders or from age-old literature. By hearkening back to their own traditions, people feel greater ownership, more self-esteem, and less dependency on the ways of the developed West. Peacebuilders need to encourage their communities to retain life-giving, healthy traditions, but to give up or transform ones that are oppressive, even life-threatening, to women and other groups. 12. BUDGET FOR TRAINED, PAID STAFFERS. Any peacebuilding initiative that is utterly dependent on passionate, devoted volunteers will not endure. Successful peacebuilding initiatives develop an institutional infrastructure and have a core group of experienced employees to keep the work on track.
13. FILL IN WHERE THE “GLOBAL ARCHITECTURE” IS LACKING. In our current highly volatile world situation, peacebuilders cannot depend on the UN – or “on the global architecture” – to solve global crises, or even to prevent them. Instead peacebuilders must take the initiative to do this work 8. DEVELOP A GLOBAL NETWORK OF PEACEBUILDERS. themselves at the local, national and regional levels. If all of the peacebuilding institutes were networked to exchange lessons, support each other, and give rise to a common voice, 14. EXPLORE AND NURTURE YOURSELF. Almost all major international donor agencies could be better educated trainings of peacebuilders involve some form of exploring how about the field and could be encouraged to support peacebuilding each participant deals with conflict. Some trainings also explore in an ongoing, sustainable manner. Ideally, donors would come how their organizations do this. Almost all trainings emphasize to think of this work in terms of a decade or longer, even multithat peace begins with oneself and that peacebuilders need to generationally. They would not impose their own agenda, but take care to avoid burnout. With proper training and awareness, would be responsive to the desires of the communities. They potential breakdowns can be turned into breakthroughs. could be inspired to visit those working at the grassroots and — Bonnie Price Lofton and Lauren Jefferson to see the difference they are making, rather than demanding reams of written reports and computerized data. Conversely, peacebuilders could be educated on how to assure donors that their funds have been invested wisely. peacebuilder ■ 79 emu.edu/cjp
From the top of the Charminar mosque-monument in Hyderabad, India, Bonnie Price Lofton surveyed this scene in late 2014, enjoying the view of vibrant commerce, only later learning that these streets had seen much deadly violence, fed by deprivation and stoked for political gain.
Seeking answers to structural violence What to do about a world system that rewards greed and views altruism as a personal hobby or (worse) as a weakness? A system in which those wielding power generally “win” by: monopolizing resources, determining our lifeways (not a word in the dictionary, but it serves), and overtly or covertly squashing anyone in the way of this approach. These questions played on my mind while studying for my CJP master’s degree, 2001-04. I voiced them in the 2004 book Critical Issues in Restorative Justice, in which I titled my chapter “Does Restorative Justice Challenge Systemic Injustices?” I discussed how restorative justice fails to turn off the spigot that floods the prison system with the perpetrators of one-on-one crimes. I pointed out that large-scale crimes are often not even defined as such: I am referring to the relatively faceless crimes of ruining people’s pension plans in the name of greed for a few, of forcing the public to pay unnecessarily high prices (as in the case of Microsoft’s monopoly on the Windows operating system), and of finding other ways to work the system to accumulate far more wealth than anyone can possibly need while others are suffering from want. The book editors, Howard Zehr and Barb Toews, weren’t entirely happy with my chapter. Howard asked me for my answer to the dilemma I pointed out, and I told him I had none. I ended up writing mushily: At least some of us need to move beyond restorative justice concepts into educating ourselves in the workings of the corporate economy. Our aim… should be to develop a more just social order while preserving the good parts – especially the dynamism – of today’s economic system… Moving with cautious urgency – that is, with urgent consciousness that 80
suffering and permanent damage are occurring now, but with cautious knowledge that ill-considered change may be worse than no change at all – we need to launch a worldwide discussion on what is the best possible socioeconomic system and how to get to it. This year, 11 years after writing that chapter and 10 years after I produced the inaugural issue of Peacebuilder, I am ending my role as editor-in-chief at EMU to pursue a better answer than the one I offered above. Of course, I’m not alone in hungering for a more just social order. Many of those interviewed for this issue of Peacebuilder alluded to their desire to address the “systemic” or “structural” roots of violent conflict. They expressed hope that their incremental grassroots efforts, one-on-one relationship-building, and policy consultations with world bodies would eventually yield the structural shifts they’d like to see. Like me, many of my fellow graduates of CJP fret over the consequences of our current global system, as it foments a massive trade in war weapons, the crushing of indigenous cultures, tidal waves of economic and political refugees, environmental catastrophes, and wealth concentrated in the hands of 1% of the world’s population. But nobody has clarity on a better system, much less how to bring it into being. I don’t see myself as an original thinker, but rather as someone who is willing to spend years pulling strands of thought from here, others from there and yonder, and (inshallah) to one day weave an attractively fresh paradigm. One thing is for sure: it’ll be entirely different from the one that Ayn Rand popularized with her books – namely, “the virtue of selfishness,” the glorification of winner-take-all scenarios, and the inherent morality of unregulated capitalism. I’d like to stay in touch with as many from the CJP community as possible and, in the years ahead, to get your feedback for my lines of thought as they slowly evolve. To locate me, try LinkedIn, Facebook, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (As for leaving my current role, there's a splendid editor, Lauren Jefferson, taking my place!) — Bonnie Price Lofton, MA ’04, D.Litt. PHOTO courtesy of Bonnie Price Lofton
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Published on Jun 8, 2015
Peacebuilder magazine from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University looks at peacebuilding issues and activi...