For the past three weeks, over 35 religious and civil society leaders from Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea (including Bougainville), West Papua, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa and American Samoa, have undergone an intensive training course in peacebuilding. Representing non-government organizations (NGOs) and faith-based organizations, the Pacific Peacebuilding Training Intensive (PPTI) was held for the fourth consecutive year at the Pacific Theological College (PTC) in Suva, Fiji. The initiative is a collaborative endeavour of God’s Pacific People (GPP), the Pacific Centre for Peacebuilding (PCP) and the United Nations Development Programme’s Strengthening Capacities for Peace and Development in the Pacific (CPAD) project. The Training Initiative focused on three key components: conflict analysis, trauma healing and conflict resolution skills. Part of the training, this year, also focused on translating and contextualizing key concepts and skills to the Pacific Region. This is necessary to help leaders talk about peacebuilding in their communities effectively.
Janet Murdock, CPAD Programme Specialist, said the project is a great example of sustainable peacebuilding. “In the first year, UNDP provided both financial and technical support for this initiative. But now it has become a yearly programme exclusively of GPP and PCP. UNDP’s involvement has become less and less. This year, UNDP support was limited to some technical assistance helping GPP and PCP figure out the most cost effective way to design an add-on Training of Trainer component.”
“This year’s programme included – for the first time – a Training of Trainers (TOT) workshop for seven participants from Fiji, PNG (including Bougainville) and Solomon Islands. By adding the TOT component, qualified trainers will now be able to design workshops in their countries and communities. There is no more effective means of disseminating information and skills for strengthening peace and non-violent conflict resolution in the Pacific than through the churches. This is what we call a highly strategic endeavor.”
Sr Lorraine Garasu, the Coordinator of the Nazareth Center for Rehabilitation in Bougainville is one of seven participants who attended the TOT. “I am already facilitating training in Bougainville but what I found most interesting is learning new skills and tools for facilitating peace building modules. During the workshop we developed modules around peace building, conflict analysis and resolution, and trauma healing – this is very important for my work in Bougainville.”
Sr Lorraine also explained how the course helps people to understand conflict and peace in a holistic way. “We’ve looked at how to deal with family feuds and how to deal with violence against woman and children. It has not just about peacebuilding as a result of armed conflict.”
Father Mark Graham from the Church of Melanesia and head of the Anglican Church of Melanesia’s (ACOM) Commission on Justice, Reconciliation and Peace in the Solomon Islands and TOT participant said that being part of the Training Initiative offered him new ideas about how to better facilitate training. “What I enjoyed most was conflict mapping because it involves a number of things from analysis, how you analyse the parties involved; you also look at the relationships within the conflict and externally, and investigating point of entries to intervene.”
First-timers June Grundler representing the Nauru Congregational Church and Wipi Menai from West Papua’s Evangelical Christian Church found the training very useful.
Ms Grundler said “I have learnt so much from my peers and hope to take back what I have learnt to my community.”
“Being here I realized that there are many conflicts in the Pacific. As a young person, this training has helped me think deeper and go beyond the surface and has given me a lot of things to think about when I go home and how I analyse and apply what I have learnt,” said Ms Menai.
All the participants used the training platform to build together a common vision and better understanding of effective approaches and specific skills to build peace in the Pacific.