For the last two weeks, an organization here in Yei has put on the first module in their inaugural Reconcile Peace Institute. The organization (helped by generous donors) brought more than 20 dynamic Sudanese community leaders and mobilizers from across Southern Sudan to their headquarters here in Yei for the three month course on peace building and trauma healing.
Since I was a young child, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of being a peacemaker. I’ve never presumed to call myself such, but whenever I’ve witnessed or been caught in the middle of conflict, I’ve longed to apply my energy toward a solution. Often, I was told by authority figures not to get involved, but I didn’t know how to reconcile their advice with the fact that Jesus blessed the peacemakers. He said they will be called sons and daughters of God!
No, I don’t want to meddle; I don’t want to push into messy situations so I can go home and gossip about them. However, I do want to help the parties come to a workable solution without resorting to violence. I do want to see restored relationships. That matters!
So, when I heard about the Reconcile Peace Institute in early December, I became very excited. “Finally! An opportunity to learn about peacemaking!” I was thrilled.
Of course it wasn’t possible for me to attend the entire three month course, but Michele excused me to attend two of the six modules, one this month and another in March. The other staff at Iris have generously pitched in to help with my duties during the first module the past two weeks. Because of Patrick’s funeral and other issues on the compound, these weeks have been quite crazy. I had to miss two entire days of classes, arrived late most of the other days, and ducked out of class now and then due to responsibilities at the base, but I have learned so much about peacemaking.
What does it mean to build peaceful interpersonal relationships? A peaceful community? A peaceful nation? How can we identify and deal with the root causes of ongoing conflict? What are some tools we can use to address issues and mobilize the parties toward transforming the conflict?
Those are a few of the questions addressed in the first module called “Learning about Conflict Analysis,” which I completed today. After Michele gets back, I’ll be able to attend another module, “Mobilizing People for Peacebuilding.” In the coming days and weeks, as I learn about and also try my hand at peacemaking, I may dump some of my reflections on this blog. Please read along, learn with me, and comment!