By Tamami Jeon
The South-South region of Nigeria has been under siege by violent armed conflicts for decades. This history has resulted in division and polarization of communities along ethnic lines as well as stunted economic growth in the region. In light of this, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria began a peacebuilding campaign in the region to de-escalate tensions. GPF selected Rivers State to be the first pilot peacebuilding community in the region.
Following a conflict and needs assessment in January 2022, community members identified conflict prevention, resolution, and management skills as some of the most pressing needs. Therefore, the capacity-building workshop was organized and conducted with 40 community volunteers between March 15 to 17, 2022, to enhance the skills of the community members.
In his remarks, the Program Manager for GPF Nigeria, Mr. Abdul Ahmed, delivered the message of GPF Nigeria Country Director, Rev. John Joseph Hayab. The training sessions reaffirmed GPF Nigeria's commitment to the community. He encouraged the trained beneficiaries to use the skills from the training to positively impact the lives of other community members and promote a culture of peace for meaningful development, as there will never be development in a society without peace.
Participants in the program reported positive reactions to the training as follows:
Mr. Amadi, a youth leader of the Etche community reported that this was his first time witnessing this kind of peacebuilding workshop. He felt that the training would go a long way to foster peace in the community as, at the very moment, the community was going through a series of crises. Mr. Amadi promised to go back and involve all the key players within his community and bring about a positive change.
Mr. Magnus commended GPF Nigeria for their endless efforts toward peacebuilding and development. He shared that one of the most valuable things he has learned in the course of the workshop is that we are all "One Family Under God." He reflected that if everyone can have the mindset that every human being has the same common origin, then the peace and development in homes and larger society can be actualized. He promised to return to his community and share with them the knowledge he acquired during the program.
Mr. Samuel in his remarks mentioned that the crucial thing he has learned was about the importance of volunteering and communication, even if volunteering requires time, energy, and sacrifice. He stressed that he is now ready to return to his community and become a peace ambassador.
At the end of the program, participants pledged to become GPF Nigeria volunteers and engage in community outreach to promote the One Family under God campaign in their respective communities.