Caritas boosting development through peacebuilding
Caritas peacebuilding efforts have entered the cyber-age with the launch of a Peacebuilding: Web Toolkit for Trainers that contains everything a trainer needs to run workshops in their communities.
The Peacebuilding: Web Toolkit for Trainers offers peacebuilders a comprehensive tool for designing peacebuilding training workshops.
It’s the latest progression in the work of Caritas in bringing about peace from the grassroots up.
“The level of destruction reached in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990’s showed that without peace, you can’t talk about development,” says Fr Pierre Cibambo, Caritas Internationalis’ Africa Liaison Officer.
Caritas set about integrating peacebuilding into its emergency and development activities by creating a working group to study the issue in the mid-90s. The group produced “Working for Reconciliation: a Caritas Handbook”.
“Peace isn’t just an absence of war,” says Fr Cibambo. “Peace is about how we live with ourselves, in our families and in our communities. It’s about how resources are managed, about social conditions and the political situation.”
In 2002, Caritas produced its “Peacebuilding Training Manual”. The book contained case studies, information and exercises regarding peace, reconciliation and conflict resolution to help train peacebuilders belonging to the Caritas network. The trainers would then go out into conflict-ridden communities and use the manual to tackle the root causes of conflict.
Fr Cibambo says the key is to manage conflicts so they don’t become violent. He says the Peacebuilding Manual helps peace agents understand and analyse conflicts and as a result, they are equipped to transform them at a grassroots level before they become violent.
The Caritas Peacebuilding Manual has laid down the groundwork for peace across the globe from Colombia to Papua New Guinea. It has been translated into over ten languages including Arabic, Indonesian and Russian, as well as some local languages.
Initially intended for member organisations of the Caritas network, it has since been used by academics and peace practitioners in other spheres.
The authors of the manual emphasise that it isn’t “a recipe” that offers easy solutions. The ideas and concepts behind conflict and the skills required for peacebuilding are often very complex and the whole process takes time, patience and resources.
“Poverty and misery are a basis for war,” says Fr Cibambo, “but there are also many other factors. For example, in my home country of Congo, the illegal exploitation of mineral resources is a part of the conflict there.”
The Peacebuilding: Web Toolkit for Trainers offers peacebuilders a comprehensive tool for designing peacebuilding training workshops. It is a living and breathing resource, with which peacebuilders can share their experiences and ideas with others no matter where they are. As it is web based, peacebuilders throughout the world will be able to access it, build their own websites, and share knowledge with other experts in the same field.
“While there is war and injustice, Caritas will continue to work towards peace on all levels,” says Fr Cibambo. “From heads of state to communities in the forgotten corners of the world, Caritas will be there offering its experience and support and opening the road to dialogue.”
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