The Peace Bridge Association (PBA), a partner of our Sudan Programme, conducted a three-day training on the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) that aims to create safer communities through the reduction of violence. The training was conducted between 21 and 25 July 2023 for Sudanese civil society actors stakeholders, and LPI Sudan and Kenya programme teams. The training focus was on the incorporation of AVP skills in conflict transformation through enhanced communication, peacebuilding and trauma-healing. The training focused on the five pillars of AVP, namely: affirmation, communication, transformation of power, community building, and conflict resolution.
Affirmation: This pillar emphasises respecting individual differences, recognising individual worth, and incorporating nonviolence, peace, and positive speech. It highlights the diversity in cultures and ideas and the importance of understanding how culture influences people's actions. During the training, an example shared was that in Sudan, some men are not comfortable sharing their personal history, hence holding on to past traumas.
Communication: The communication exercise taught open, respectful listening, and active listening skills like mirroring, clarifying questions, expressing empathy, acknowledging feelings, and assertiveness. It encouraged reflections on childhood memories, allowing people to share them regardless of their origin, and promoting empathy and assertiveness.
Transforming power: The transforming power pillar encouraged individuals to redefine power positively without manipulation. Most AVP facilitators have had a history of violence but have received training for transformation. One of the facilitators who had lost his mother and brother during violent conflicts in Sudan, at first condoned violence but later joined the AVP training team. The process transformed him into a peace champion because he learned about components of forgiveness. The pillar teaches people to choose to respond rather than react, promoting a more positive and effective approach to power.
Community building: This pillar emphasised unity and interconnectedness. Participants learned how to build bridges and facilitate conversations between diverse groups that allow participants to identify common interests and goals.
Conflict resolution: The facilitators underscored that conflict can be a healthy part of relationships and should not escalate into violence. Techniques for peaceful conflict resolution included: negotiation, collaboration, and nonviolent methods. Strategies for de-escalation were also discussed. The training allowed for the integration of AVP exercises with resilience toolkit exercises, such as personal transformation exercises that were linked to the capacity to transform in the Resilience in Conflict Analysis Toolkit (RCAT) https://life-peace.org/resource/the-resilience-in-conflict-analysis-toolkit-rcat/
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