Reconciliation: An Unexpected Impact of Peer Support Work to Reduce Violence within Communities

Peer to peer support along with micro credit through SILC programs (Savings and Internal Loan Communities) is a project which CEDAC along with AOAV (Action on Armed Violence) and AEOEP (Framing Association for young Orphans and Peace Education) is currently working with. The participants consist of young people from different political parties, ex-combatants, and other vulnerable categories of people, such as youth, head of families, refugees, IDPs (Internally Displaced People), and Twa. All who together are working towards reducing and preventing violence within the Burundian community. Reconciliation is an important impact of the project, which could be seen through a field visit to Bujumbura rural, where testimonies were told and young people pardoned each other due to the peer to peer support work. The peer to peer support project is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and has been active since July, 2014. CEDAC has put together a team of peer support workers, who are sharing the same background as the participants.

The peer support workers are trained in psychology, business management, and conflict resolution. A recruited psychologist expert, from the CISR (Center for International Stabilization and Recovery) at James Madison University, has been providing psychological training to the peer support workers on how they should work with participants who are facing psychological trauma.  Furthermore, the peer support workers have received training in business management from the Burundi Business Incubator, where the main focus has been on the management of small and medium enterprises (SME), hence improving the work with SILC. Conflict resolution and non-violent communication are other important factors in the training of the peer support workers. Many of the participants have experienced a high degree of violence, either in the community or through their past as combatants, wherefore it is important to work with these measures in order to reduce violence. Since the election is approaching in May, 2015, it is very important to work to combat political violence. Through this program CEDAC is providing a valuable platform to do that, involving youth from different political parties and persons who are in a high risk group for resorting to violence.    

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