Liberia's Challenge & Opportunity
Civil war has left the country deeply affected and devastated.
Conflict easily erupts at fault lines such as weakened respect for elders, ethnic
tensions and integration of refugees. There is a tremendous need for local
leaders to experience and learn skills for inter-group trust, nonviolent
conflict resolution, reconciliation and collaborative networking, which provide
the foundations of democracy, development, and a sustainable peace.
The Peacebuilder Initiative
This initiative offers deep discussion and visioning among all
constituents. A microcosm of the whole of Liberia, beyond Monrovia, is needed
to build peace at the grassroots, not just official levels. This reflects President
Sirleaf's call for "...real conversation, real debate...
We need to talk openly and honestly all over the country about our history and
our roots, about the evils of our past and the good in it too." We plan to create an expanding community based network
of Peacebuilders across age, gender, ethnicity and social status differences. This
builds capacity to manage tensions at the grassroots, taking a powerful step
towards creating a healthy Liberian national identity, true democracy and
How it works: Peacebuilder teams of three local community leaders (elder, woman, and youth) from
the major ethnic groups across all counties attend.
A series of five-day Summits -regional and national, comprised of:
· Compassionate Listening training
· Council Circles with women, youth and men where all voices are
· Nonviolent conflict resolution skills adapting traditional
· Restorative Justice Circles -- listening to each other's
stories to move toward reconciliation
· Celebration and co-creation through music, art and dance
· Sharing meals and social time
· Inclusion of national leaders
· Large group dialogue and deliberative processes in a Town Hall
What happens beyond the Summits is key: Peacebuilders bring the learnings home, supported by a Peacebuilder Manual of the processes and skills
learned. The teams:
· Hold local workshops on Compassionate Listening and conflict
· Facilitate dialogues after showing the DVD of Peacebuilders'
stories and Summit highlights
· Organize Town Halls to address local issues
· Utilize text messaging system to give/receive support with the
growing network of Peacebuilders and serve as an Early Warning/Response Network
· PCO staff monitor and support the teams, and co-facilitate
local Town Halls
PCO gathers government and national leaders in Monrovia to discuss the
Peacebuilder Report and see the DVD.
Each new Summit brings a multiplying effect, resulting in over
144 Peacebuilders, 48 local workshops, 48 Town Halls and 4800 community
We hope to begin in fall of 2010, once funding is secured.