War Child Holland. Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone Understandings and Approaches. Peacebuilding.
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Peacebuilding in Sierra Leone
Understandings and Approaches
War Child works towards ‘positive peace’, aiming to transform social relationships, structures and culture in a direction conducive to a reduction of root causes of social conflicts, and enhancing the capacities to manage emerging conflicts non-violently and constructively.
Y o u n g P e o p l e
Level of Violence /
WAR CHILD HOLLAND
IN SIERRA LEONE
“During the festive community celebration, a person stood up from the crowd unexpectedly.
In front of a large public he felt urged to share how he had not been on speaking terms with his neighbor for many years.
The neighbor was among the crowd. The two then used the opportunity to settle their differences on the very spot.”
Young people growing up in a healthy, stable and cohesive environment, supported by protective factors that help them grow into 'peace minded' adult community members.
In the communities where WCH-SL works, adult, youth and child community members will either be actively participating in or attending activities organized and implemented by the community structures set up for that purpose.
Children and youth will participate in creative and life skills workshops, fun days, recreational (sports and games) and cultural events, community meetings, and participatory assessments and evaluations.
Adults will participate in parent support groups, recreational and cultural events, community meetings, participatory assessments and evaluations.
All community members will be encouraged to attend awareness-raising activities and events, such as drama performances, panel discussions, rallies etc.
Contribute to the psychosocial recovery of communities and foster community cohesion through the development of individual life skills and the facilitation of social infrastructures
This is to a large extent due to the disintegration of society and community during the war. The chaos, anarchy and violence of the war have led to the collapse of many communities and the breakdown of the social fabric that traditionally holds a community together.
Ten years of conflict have splintered homes and communities, destroyed social structures, cultural norms and values, and protective mechanisms that used to keep people together and brought about unity in a community. This has an immense impact on the wellbeing and the development of children and youth. They are exposed to this lack of unity and negative interactions between adult community members; who are supposed to be their role models.
Conflicts between community members are frequent, leading to aggressive and violent attitudes towards each other. There appears to be a lack of support for one another and insufficient collaboration in working towards the development of the community. People do not work anymore as one community towards a common goal.
Cultural activities, which used to play an important role in bringing the community members together and in expressing a sense of community identity, have largely disappeared as a result of the war.Community cohesion & interaction (2/2)
“In today’s world, we ought to ask children and young people for their opinions. By involving the children, we prepare them for the world of tomorrow. By involving children in activities, they learn skills such as how to speak before a group and express their opinion, and how to solve problems by discussing them.”
Children were at the core of the brutal civil war that ravaged Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002.
Many children witnessed horrible violence, were subjected to systematic abuse, lost family members, saw their homes go up in flames and had to flee to find refuge in camps or with relatives in safer places.
Thousands of children, boys as well as girls, were forced to become combatants themselves. Senseless killings, mutilations, rape and other inhuman treatment were part of these children’s daily experiences.
In times gone by, our parents did not protect us. If adults saw children going to dangerous places, like into the jungle, they would only laugh. Their attitude was one of “I don’t care”. Parents did not look out for their children, and certainly not for children who where not their biological children. Things are different now, because parents are showing that they care about us”.
“Adults now pass on their knowledge to us. They not only teach us how to play the Boo-Boo flute and how to drum, but also how to get a group together and then lead it. Children and young people are now very much involved in planning and carrying out community activities”
“The war has made our people violent. Children and young people stopped going to school and started playing in the jungle instead, fighting each other with sticks and bottles. No-one had any control over them. Adults were not aware of the negative effects of the situation. Parents also set a bad example by fighting each other on almost a daily basis while their children were present.”
“If we act respectfully, the people in our community know that we are being properly brought up. Our parents can then be proud of us, and we are asked to take part in community activities. This generates peace and unity, not only in the family, but in the community as well. We have a saying: ‘If children wash their hands, they can eat at the village chief’s table’.”
“Now that there is more peace in the communities and adults are no longer each others enemies, they are able to pay more attention to children, whether these are their own biological children or not. Neighbors help children when they are ill by taking them to the hospital, even if the parents are not around. And our parents no longer hit us now that the message has been spread about maltreating children and children’s rights”.
“There is now more cohesion in our community because we have come together and have started organizing cultural festivals. Nowadays, residents of nearby villages are friendly towards us. In contrast to how things used to be, when such cultural dance activities were characterized by violence, they now end peacefully.”