Friday, March 17, 2006

Damietta chooses AVP to train Pan African Conciliation Teams

The Franciscan Order in Africa has set up the Damietta Initiative which aims to proactively and reactively address community and inter-religious conflict in Africa. Local Pan African Conciliation Teams (PACT) will be set up consisting of people of different religions represented in the community. Their excellent website is worth a visit. They will be trained in Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops to start the process of building teams and getting in touch with their own ability to solve conflicts nonviolently.

Phaphama Initiatives trained the first two groups in Athlone and Parow at the begining of the year. The large Parow workshop of 27 played the simulation game Rafa-Rafa. Two communities having different values and ways of behaving were created. Observers were sent to listen and learn and then report back to the members of their community who were going to live in the other community. Each community preferred their own and found the other strange.

At the Athlone workshop we role played a situation where Catholic and Muslim neighbours were worried about their children playing together. We learned a lot by playing it four ways-both intolerant, one tolerant and the other intolerant, then the one intolerant and the other tolerant and finally both being tolerant.

Shortly after the workshops the groups faced the issue of the cartoons of the prophet that had been first published in a Danish newspaper. They worked on a statement for publication in the Catholic Southern Cross newspaper and for Muslim Judicial Council. Jeremy joined the Quaker Peace Centre who had organized to monitor the march that had been planned. Different newspapers reported the numbers from between 6 000 and 30 000- it was hugh. "I felt really proud to be a South African.
We were 5 Christian and 5 Muslim observers and we all felt pleased that the march had been conducted in such a peaceful manner when we
debriefed our experiences afterwards as we had been split up as children were at the front behind the leaders, then the women and finally the men.


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