Imagine peace between peoples: From grassroots to global voice
South Africa is known as the “Rainbow Nation”. It has eleven official languages and up to three million people have migrated there. But when men in the township of Alexandra went on the rampage with iron bars shouting “kick the foreigners out”, it showed that peace in South Africa is not guaranteed.
Caritas has since begun to create peace groups. “We want to bring together people of different origins and religion in one place so they can tell their story in a safe environment,” said Sister Aine Hughes of Caritas South Africa.
People discover that wherever they’re from, they all have the same story to tell. Caritas funded the initiative to train 180 facilitators to each lead peacebuilding groups of around 20 people for six months. They use Caritas peacebuilding tools like “Working for Reconciliation: A Caritas Handbook” and “Peacebuilding: A Caritas Training Manual”.
“One of the advantages of using the Caritas peacebuilding manuals is that they also give our programmes a spiritual base,” said Sister Hughes.
Advocacy activities on peacebuilding centred on the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Caritas worked with the Central Africa Policy Forum on Kenya, Burundi, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.
The Head of Delegation in New York, Joseph Donnelly, played a critical liaison role with the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Caritas Uganda’s role in supporting ‘safe spaces’ alongside efforts to start peace negotiations. Following the post-election violence in Kenya, Caritas joined Franciscans International at the UN in Geneva to urge the Nairobi government to ensure human rights in the country.