Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) is a training program enabling participants to deal with potentially violent situations in new and creative ways. Workshops are delivered by our trained facilitators and are experiential (not based on lectures). Our workshops draw on the shared experience of participants, using interactive exercises, discussions, games and role-plays to examine the ways we respond to situations where injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behavior and violence.
An AVP workshop can help you to:
- manage strong feelings such as anger and fear
- deal more effectively with risk and threatening situations
- build good relationships with other people
- communicate constructively in difficult situations
- recognize the conflict management skills you already have
- be true to yourself while respecting other people
- understand why conflict happens
- approach conflict in a more creative and less reactive manner
- consider your own relationship to systems of violence
For more information about the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP), please check the website of AVP International: http://www.avp.international
Due to the covid pandemic and the need to care for the safety of the participants and team, in 2022, we continued having a maximum of 15 participants in our AVP workshops. We also made sure that we tested everyone on the first day of the workshop and to raise awareness of the necessary protection measures like wearing masks, distancing and using the same chair, pen, etc. throughout the workshop, as well as washing or sanitizing one’s hands when entering the training room.
AVP TRAINING OF FACILITATORS September 23-25, 2022
On the weekend September 23-25, 2022 we held this year’s AVP Training of Facilitators (ToF) at Emmaus Hostel, Huye, with financial support from GIZ Civil Peace Service. The team of trainers was composed of Leila Butoyial (Lucky Leila, Burundi), Silowam Silas (Friends Peace House, AVP Rwanda, Kigali), Serge Muvunyi (Smiling Serge, Rwanda), Gloire Sebuyange (Genius Gloire, DR Congo), and Anne Dietrich (Active Anne, IPA, CRASPD/PIASS). The participants were invited because they had completed different AVP Basic and Advanced Workshops organized by PIASS/ CRASPD, some of them with GIZ CPS funds and some with Japanese funding.
Through ToFs, we hope to promote the spread of this approach. We are convinced that it can help to build capacities of people and groups in the region to deal with conflict in a nonviolent and constructive way, thereby contributing to the prevention, reduction and ending of violence in all its forms and to the development of mechanisms and institutions that foster these tendencies. At the core of ToFs is extensive practice in facilitation for those who have completed AVP basic and advanced level workshops and want to become AVP Learning Facilitators who can then join teams of experienced AVP facilitators for workshops in their communities.
In the 2022 ToF, 17 new facilitators (9 women and 8 men) were trained, all of them students from Burundi, DR Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Sudan.
In the “way forward” session, many asked questions about how they can best get in touch with AVPers in their home communities to start joining teams as AVP learning facilitators and/ or organizing AVP workshops in their communities and connecting themselves to AVP international (https://avp.international) to be included in online gatherings, webinars and other activities on a global level. Some of the newly trained AVP learning facilitators already participated in the ‘Creative Conversations’ of AVP international in August, an online session organized every few months, which was on the topic of how the concept of Transforming Power is introduced and visually represented in AVP workshops in different parts of the world.
The Center for Research and Action towards Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASDP) at PIASS organized an ‘Alternatives to Violence Program’ (AVP) Basic Level Workshop in August 2022, with 13 participants (5 women and 8 men); 12 of them were PIASS students from different countries in the region and another one was a student of the University of Rwanda.
The teams of this AVP workshops was led by Linda from DR Congo, a former long-term intern and graduate of the PIASS Department for Peace and Conflict Studies, alongside one Rwandan, one Burundian and one South Sudanese AVP Learning Facilitator.
AVP ADVANCED LEVEL WORKSHOP August 3-5, 2022
The AVP Advanced Level Workshop was organized with the support of GIZ by the Center for Research and Action for Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASPD) at the PIASS Faculty of Development Studies. The team had invited people who had completed an AVP Basic Level Workshop as is customary for AVP Advanced Workshops. The workshop was held in English with the option of doing group work in any language the group felt comfortable with.
The team of AVP facilitators was composed of Gloire Sebuyange, a Congolese PIASS graduate and intern at CRASPD, Kanyana Gorret, a Rwandan PIASS graduate and CRASPD support staff, as well as Serge Muvunyi, PIASS Communication manager and Anne Dietrich, International Peace Advisor of GIZ Civil Peace Service based in CRASPD/ PIASS.
15 students (9 men and 6 women) from the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at PIASS and a few students from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Rwanda, who all had completed an AVP Basic Workshop, participated. Unfortunately, one participant had an accident on a motorbike taxi the second day of the workshop and could not complete the training.
Consensus Decision Making to find the group’s Focus Topic for the AVP Advanced Level Workshop
As usual, the group of participants found the focus topic for their workshop in a consensus decision making exercise; they chose to work on ‘how we can recognize conflict and how Transforming Power can help us resolve conflict, especially when anger is involved’. By working on different dimensions of conflict and violence, as well as the significance of communication for dealing with strong emotions in conflict, we learnt the following lessons:
- Whenever there is a conflict nearby, do not remain a passive bystander; rather find a creative way of intervening to stop violence.
- We all share the same needs though we may have different ways of meeting our own, in different contexts or time frames.
- It is crucial to respect other people’s opinions regardless of our differences.
- It is good to always expect the best even in our opponents.
- It is better to seek for external help if you cannot resolve the conflict (better than remaining passive).
Regional AVP FACILITATORS Refresher and Exchange Workshop September 12-14, 2022
In collaboration with Friends Peace House (FPH), we held our first AVP facilitators’ regional workshop on [insert date]. As a follow-up to this workshop, we organized, again with FPH, a Regional AVP Facilitators Refresher and Exchange Workshop, which was held on September 12-14, 2022. We brought together 18 participants (6 women and 12 men) from Burundi, North and South Kivu in DR Congo, Rwanda, and a Congolese with refugee status in Rwanda. Multiple topics, including Transforming Power as the core philosophy of AVP, “i-message” as a main element of Communication and the approach of the “Theater of the Oppressed”, were presented and discussed. Apart of these practical sessions of sharing experiences and developing didactic tools, the AVP facilitators also introduced to each other how AVP started and what they are working on in their respective countries. Two cross-cutting topics were discussed: How to involve more young people in AVP and how to make better use of digital options to spread AVP. As more regional cooperation between AVP facilitators and more frequent opportunities to meet and share experiences like this one were requested, an AVP regional forum was birthed, and a committee was elected to prepare a list of active regional AVP facilitators that would be accessible to all and able to develop an action plan for further collaboration.
PARTICIPATION IN AVP FACILITATORS REFRESHER TRAINING IN JUNE 2022
Friends Peace House, one of the organizations implementing AVP in Rwanda with a strong focus on holding AVP workshops in prisons and in local communities, invited some of us to participate in the AVP Facilitators Refresher Training on June 29, 2022, in Kigali. As we were asked to prepare a session, Linda and Anne, with support from Javan, held a review of the Nonviolent Communication basic assumptions and of the modes of honestly expressing oneself and listening to others empathically. One question that prompted a lively discussion was the following: How can leaders communicate in a way that respects the humaneness of another without losing authority and respect, especially when culture and tradition expects one to obey leaders without question. We also worked on the opportunities and pitfalls of online activities in AVP and the need to involve more young people in the AVP program.
The Center for Research and Action towards Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASDP) at PIASS organized an ‘Alternatives to Violence Program’ (AVP) Basic Level Workshops in January and in June 2022, sponsored by the Japanese Baptist Convention. In total, 13 participants (10 females and 3 males) attended: 9 PIASS students from Rwanda, Japan, and South Sudan; one student from the University of Rwanda; one participant from GIZ (German Development Agency); one participant from Ejo Youth Echo; and one participant from Kigali Independent University, while eight youth, eight female, and six male, from different countries in the region, most of them students participated in the AVP basic workshop in June.
These two AVP basic level workshops were led by Linda from DR Congo, a former long-term intern of CRASPD and graduate of the PIASS Department for Peace and Conflict Studies, with teams of 6 AVP Learning Facilitators from Rwanda, from Burundi, from the DRC, and from Uganda.
One of the interesting open questions raised and answered by the group of participants in collaboration with the team was: What can you do when you are in conflict with a person who does not want to talk? Different alternatives were developed:
AVP ADVANCED LEVEL WORKSHOP FEBRUARY 4 TO 6, 2022
The AVP Advanced Level Workshop was organized by the Center for Research and Action towards Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASPD) at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) Faculty of Development Studies, with the support of the Japanese Baptist Convention. The workshop was led by a team of two AVP Learning Facilitators from DR Congo, one Burundian, and the International Peace Advisor at CRASPD who is an experienced AVP facilitator. The participants consisted of 14 PIASS students from different African countries, as well as one student of Clinical Psychology from the University of Rwanda. In a lively session on consensus decision making and on learning how to include everyone’s concerns and needs in the process, participants chose the focus topic for the workshop: “How can positive affirmations support or limit transforming power?” In a series of gatherings, exercises and “theater of the oppressed” role plays, we explored this topic, taking on board the experiences and all participants. We came to the conclusion that if we are aware of the power to transform a situation from escalation to connection in ourselves and others, affirming this force can help us to overcome cycles of hatred and violence.
AVP Training of Facilitators in November 2021
An AVP Training of Facilitators (ToF) was held on November 12-14, 2021 at Emmaus Hostel, Huye, with financial support from GIZ Civil Peace Service. The team of trainers was composed of one Burundian, one Congolese, and two Rwandan experienced AVP facilitators.
PIASS/CRASPD invited AVPers who had completed both AVP Basic and Advanced Workshops between 2018 to 2021. The participants of the ToF included students, as well as staff and volunteers of local NGOs and CPS (Civil Peace Service) partners from Burundi and DRC.
Through AVP ToFs, we hope to promote the spread of this approach, as we are convinced that it helps to build capacities in the region to deal with conflict in a nonviolent and constructive way. We trust that this contributes to the prevention, reduction and ending of violence in all its forms and to the development of mechanisms and institutions that foster these tendencies. At the core of ToFs is the extensive practice of facilitation for those who have participated in AVP Basic and Advanced Level Workshops. Those who complete the AVP ToF become AVP Learning Facilitators who can join teams of experienced AVP facilitators for workshops in their communities.
The participants of this year’s AVP ToF were students of PIASS from Burundi, DR Congo, Nigeria, and Rwanda.
Following sessions covering the characteristics of a successful facilitator, teambuilding, workshop design, and giving and receiving constructive feedback, the participants formed groups in which they prepared and facilitated several sessions of an AVP Basic Workshop program. The other participants and the ToF team served as participants in their facilitation practice.
After each group had completed their session, they received feedback, in a fishbowl format: First, every practice facilitator gave themselves feedback for their own facilitation, after which they received feedback from their teammates in the facilitation practice group, their participants and from the ToF Team. After all groups had facilitated and received feedback for their facilitation, we captured ‘lessons learnt from the facilitation practice’ in plenary. Some of the major insights that participants came up with included the following:
- Preparation is key
- Share in the team which methods you will use
- Have materials (incl. prepared charts) ready before time
- Allocate enough time for every session
- The importance of using participatory approaches
- Give positive feedback
AVP Basic Level Workshops in November and December 2021
We were happy to welcome two volunteers from our Congolese partner organizations APC (Goma) and RAPI (Bukavu) to the Thematic Working Group “Nonviolent Conflict Transformation and Community Dialogue” in the GIZ Civil Peace Service Regional Program. The two volunteers joined us for our Alternatives to Violence Basic Workshops in November and December 2021.
AVP basic Workshop, October 20-22, 2020
After our AVP Training of Facilitators in early October, we organized our first Alternatives to Violence Program’ (AVP) Basic Level Workshop in covid-times, sponsored by the GIZ Civil Peace Service (CPS) Regional Program.
Eighteen participants (9 females and 9 males) attended; 17 of them were PIASS students from Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Cameroon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, and South Sudan, and one participant from a youth club of Burundian urban refugees in Huye. The workshop took place on October 20 – 22, 2020 (three days) in Huye and was guided by a team of more experienced AVP facilitators and AVP Learning Facilitators from Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, and South Sudan. Through experience sharing, practical exercises, group work and role plays, we all learnt more together about conflict and violence and developed skills further to de-escalate tense situations that can lead to violence. In discussing the way forward, it was explained that AVP is present in many countries in the world and that someone can participate in AVP advanced level workshops in any country they may be located in, if AVP exists there. We also shared the AVP International website (www.avp.international) for more information about AVP, different countries where it is working in, and different materials.
AVP Training of Facilitators in Huye, October 2020
As soon as the requirement for all participants of a workshop to bring a negative COVID-19 test was lifted, we started organizing an Alternatives to Violence Training of Facilitators. We brought together 15 participants from Malawi, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda, most of them students. The team was joined by one experienced Rwandan AVP Facilitator, who had been part of the team for the AVP Training of Facilitators (ToF) in Ethiopia last year, plus a Congolese and a Burundian Facilitator who had co-facilitated AVP Workshops earlier.
“Bus exercise” – a team building experience in the AVP training of facilitators
On the first day, we set the stage for the Training of Facilitators: We worked on basic elements of conducting AVP workshops and challenged participants, in teams of 3-4 people, to prepare a session of an AVP Basic Workshop each where we others were the participants. The facilitation practice demanded a lot from the four practice teams, including giving each other constructive and specific feedback.
Together, we learned many lessons about teambuilding, preparation, facilitation and feedback. We also explored what is needed to design an AVP workshop, where to find resources and fellow facilitators and how to deal with the ‘nasty’ behavior of participants.
A V P Facilitators Refresher Training
Nine facilitators trained by the Alternatives to Violence Program at PIASS participated in the joint AVP Facilitators Refresher Training that was held in cooperation with the Friends Peace House in Kigali, on August 11-12, 2020. A vivid exchange of experiences, practical exercises, gatherings and Light and Livelies (what may be called “energizer” in other programs) were all conducted while observing COVID-19 measures. We are grateful for the hospitality of Friends Peace Garden, who hosted the training, and thankful for the staff, who left no stone unturned to make us feel welcome and at home in spite of the social distancing!
AVP Advanced Level Workshops in July and August 2020
CRASPD, with the support of the Japanese Baptist Convention, held two AVP Advanced Level Workshops end of July and early August 2020. The participants were 10 young people per workshop who had completed the basic workshops in 2019/20. Since many of the students who participated had to come from their homes in different parts of the country, due to the COVID-19 lockdown, we catered for their transportation to the workshops and accommodation.
We were required to hold the workshops in a hotel, under strict measures, such as wearing face masks, social distancing, washing of hands any time someone would enter the training hall, using only one’s own pens and notebooks etc. In spite of all these challenges and limitations, we found that the participants were very grateful for the opportunity to continue their learning and to exchange and develop skills together. We hope that some of those who attended this workshop will be trained as new AVP learning facilitators in late September.
Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) Basic Level Workshop at PIASS on March 2-4, 2020
CRASPD held an AVP Basic workshop on Mach 2-4, with 20 participants from different countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Germany, Japan, Rwanda, and USA) and from different departments and faculties of PIASS, as well as organizations from Burundi, DRC, and Rwanda.
As usual, the workshop covered the four pillars of AVP: Affirmation, Communication, Cooperation, and Conflict Resolution. We also covered the notion of Transforming Power by using experience based learning through practical exercises, sharing of each other’s experiences, brainstorming and discussing, and role playing. Two ‘open questions’ that had been collected during the three workshop days, generated impressive responses from the group on the last day:
One question was the following: “In which phase of a conflict can the mechanisms of Alternatives to Violence play a big role?” The response was that AVP can be useful in all phases, as it allows us to express needs and wants for change in a peaceful way. However, it was found that during the escalation of a conflict towards (more harmful) violence, AVP can prove to be more significant than in other phases
The second question was the following: “Can AVP be applied to ‘unforgiveable crimes/ crimes against humanity’. One participant responded that “AVP is focusing more on preventing such violence”, and another added that “all levels are interconnected, and it starts with me and what I am doing if such crimes happen or not”. Yet another mentioned that “even after a judgment through the law may be passed, forgiveness can still happen, and both victim and perpetrator are still human beings”.
Now that the COVID-19 lockdown is lifted and the hotels are encouraged to cater for conferences and workshops, we are planning to hold two AVP Advanced Level workshops with smaller groups than usual – 10 participants at a time – respecting COVID-19 security measures.
Support for GIZ CPS to start AVP in Ethiopia December 2019
In November 2018, the CRASPD International Peace Advisor, Anne, facilitated AVP mini workshops at the Regional Conference of the Civil Peace Service in Africa, together with Peter Onyango Olwal from Kenya—who had been at PIASS for an AVP Workshop in 2018—and one of her Burundian CPS colleagues, Danny Claire Nkurikiye to introduce the Alternatives to Violence Programs to participants of the conference. As a result, the Ethiopian Civil Peace Service showed interest in starting an Alternatives to Violence Program there. In October 2019, a team consisting of Peter Onyango Olwal, a South African AVP facilitator, Shukulu, one of our graduates and AVP Learning Facilitators and Odette, one of the AVP Rwanda Facilitators, conducted the first AVP Basic and Advanced Level workshops in Addis Ababa. The group of participants consisted of representatives of different universities in Oromyia, the most populous central region of Ethiopia, as well as several organizations and government institutions partnering with CPS Ethiopia. In December, Anne joined the team for the first Training of Facilitators in Ethiopia. Following the training, CPS Ethiopia had prepared a conversation with the Ethiopian Ministry of Higher Education to explore possibilities to introduce AVP in and around some of the universities in Oromyia where the uprisings that brought a significant political change in Ethiopia over the last two years started. In Oromyia, the violent incidents are, again, on the rise.
Subsequent AVP workshops in one of those universities in Oromyia and additional workshops in Addis Ababa had been planned for March 2020 but have been postponed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
AVP Regional Networking: AVP Rwanda Gathering, contact with AVP DRC
In December, a delegation of AVP facilitators from PIASS joined the General Assembly of the Alternatives to Violence Program Rwanda in Kigali and witnessed the election of a new committee. We are proud to say that one of our experienced AVP facilitators and two AVP Learning Facilitators have been elected as members of the Committee.
At the same time, our efforts to convene AVP facilitators from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda in the Exchange and Connection Workshop in Gisenyi in August 2019 have been bearing fruit: This workshop served, among other things, to bring together experienced AVP facilitators from Bujumbura, Bukavu (South Kivu, DRC) and Goma (North Kivu, DRC) with AVP Learning Facilitators from Burundi and DR Congo who had been trained at PIASS. These AVP Learning Facilitators may be returning to Bujumbura, Bukavu and Goma after completing their studies at PIASS and can join hands with the experienced facilitators to spread AVP more in their home areas.
Inspired by the exchange during our workshop and supported by the African Great Lakes Initiative of the US Quakers, the formerly scattered groups of AVP facilitators in Goma and Bukavu have meanwhile organized General Assemblies for South and North Kivu and integrated the new AVP Learning Facilitators in their (voluntary) work.
In May and June, Anne and Floriane were involved in different online activities organized by the AVP international network. We are learning more and more how to best facilitate online.
AVP Advanced Level Workshop August 1-3, 2019
As usual for the Alternatives to Violence Program Advanced Workshops, the CRASPD team invited people who had completed an AVP Basic Level Workshop. This time the team was composed of two experienced AVP Facilitators (Kenyan and Burundian) as well as two AVP Learning Facilitators from Rwanda.
AVP Exchange and Connection Workshop in Ginsenyi with Facilitators from DR Congo August 19-22, 2019
AVP Exchange and Connection Workshop with Facilitators from DRC August 19-22, 2019
Due to the Ebola crisis, we were not able to conduct the planned visit of a team of AVP facilitators from PIASS to meet AVP facilitators in Goma. As Friends Peace House had been planning to hold a meeting with AVP facilitators from DRC in Gisenyi in August, we decided to conduct a workshop in Gisenyi together. We called it Exchange and Connection Workshop as it served two main purposes:
– Exchange about the current activities of AVP facilitators in Rwanda and Eastern DRC
– Get to know each other better and plan future communication and joint activities
Among the AVP facilitators, there were six Rwandans from Friends Peace House in Kigali, two from DRC, and six from Huye. There were also three Congolese AVP Learning Facilitators. Unfortunately, three other facilitators from the DRC had been denied entry into Rwanda due to the situation related to the Ebola crisis. Of the 14 participants, eight were female and six were male.
The training was facilitated in English, French and Kinyarwanda with translations. There was also time for one-on-one and small group exchanges.
All found it very interesting to get to know each other (better), sharing their experiences of facilitating AVP workshops, practicing different exercises and reflections, and learning about the ways AVP has been launched and is being conducted in different places. Another exciting exercise was to explore how AVP facilitators from Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo could work together in the future and how support could be raised to make joint projects possible.
AVP Training of Facilitators September 2 – 4, 2019
Eighteen participants who had completed AVP Basic and Advanced Level Workshops in the past joined the Training of Facilitators in September. This time, all of them were students coming from different faculties and countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania), and the AVP Facilitators from CRASPD were joined by an experienced AVP Facilitator from Kigali and one AVP Learning Facilitator trained at PIASS. The core of the Training of Facilitators was the facilitation practice: the participants formed groups and had the task to prepare and facilitate one session of an AVP Basic Workshop. while the others present were the – sometimes ‘difficult’ – participants. After their session, the team members would give each other feedback on their facilitation and receive feedback from the other participants and trainer team.
Some of the lessons learnt in the facilitation practice were:
* How to deal with “provocative” questions nonviolently.
* Facilitation needs time for preparing, teambuilding and sharing strengths and weaknesses.
* Cooperation is key in facilitation: organize AVP workshops led by experienced facilitators.
* There are many (verbal/nonverbal) ways of communication.
* Be well prepared.
* Providing clear instructions (e.g., during exercises) is important.
* Be aware of your body language when facilitating.
* Be flexible: all will not happen as planned.
In the session on ‘The Way Forward with AVP’, ideas were shared on how the new Learning Facilitators can join hands with experienced AVP facilitators in their countries to conduct their first AVP workshops and promote AVP further.
AVP Advanced Level Workshop June 24-26, 2019, in Huye
As usual for the Alternatives to Violence Program Advanced Workshops, the CRASPD team invited people who had completed an AVP Basic Level Workshop, either at PIASS or elsewhere. This time 15 people, 5 women and 10 men, participated in the workshop; 13 of them were PIASS students, and two staff members of NGOs (Good Neighbors Rwanda and Lutheran Young Adults in Global Mission, YAGM). The team of five was composed of two more experienced AVP facilitators from CRASPD and two AVP Learning facilitators trained in 2017 and 2018 respectively, one from Rwanda and one from DRC. For these AVP learning facilitators, it was the first time to co-facilitate an Advanced Level Workshop, although they had both gained experience in facilitating AVP Basic Level Workshops before. The focus topic that the participants selected in a consensus decision making exercise during the first workshop day was “How can we — especially as young people — resolve conflict non-violently in daily life through Transforming Power and thereby contribute to Social Change?” Using different exciting exercises and lively discussions, we worked on raising the participants’ awareness of the challenges of direct, cultural and structural violence and how we can promote Transforming Power — the power to resolve conflict nonviolently through connecting with the good in the other person — to help us overcome violence in all its forms.
AVP Facilitators Refresher Training July 19-21, 2019, in Huye
For the AVP facilitators refresher training this year, 19 facilitators came together: Seven Rwandan AVP facilitators came from Friends Peace House in Kigali, and among the other 12 from PIASS were six Rwandans, one Burundian, and five Congolese. A central part of the training was for the facilitators to lead specific exercises and receive feedback from the plenary, and another was to share experiences of working with AVP in different settings: The team from Friends Peace House explained how their work, mainly in prisons, but also in schools and communities, looks like, and the PIASS team shared how they are working with students and staff of NGOs and institutions. The facilitators who had been trained at PIASS but have already returned or will soon return to DRC were asking for support to develop AVP further in Goma. A meeting is planned in August in Gisenyi, to see how the Rwanda facilitators can support these efforts.
AVP Mini Workshop at GIZ CPS Regional Public Speaking Event
in Kigali, on July 30, 2019
A team composed of a Kenyan AVP facilitator, Peter Onyango Olwal, three of our AVP Learning Facilitators from DRC and Burundi and one CRASPD staff member held a mini workshop to introduce Alternatives to Violence Program to youth who had come to Kigali for the Regional Public Speaking Event of the GIZ Civil Peace Service on July 30, 2019. In this workshop, we introduced to the youth the history, philosophy, methods and best practices of AVP. We formed two groups of which the larger one worked in English and the other in French. Using inputs and practical exercises, we managed to give the participants a taste of how the program works and what it can achieve in terms of finding nonviolent ways to resolve conflict in the family, schools, communities and professional contexts. The youth present were very interested in the program, especially since we worked with examples that were applicable to their daily experiences. Many expressed interest in joining AVP workshops.
AVP Basic Level Workshop in May 2019
CRASPD held an AVP Basic workshop on May 17 to 19, 2019 with 18 participants, most of them members of the PIASS Red Cross Club and students of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. For two of the Learning Facilitators in the team, Linda and Pascaline from DRC, this was their first time to facilitate in practice. One of the outstanding topics of this workshop became the concept of nonviolence, its advantages and limits to resolve contentious issues in-and-between communities. It was pointed out that nonviolence does not mean to remain passive, but to take action to resist violence in all its forms, including injustice, when we get aware of it. In exercises and role plays, participants had a chance to work on ways to affirm the good and compassionate traits we all have within ourselves, to work on ways to communicate constructively in conflict, to work together to include everyone in the community during challenging times, and to resolve conflict in nonviolent ways.
A question arose about the suffering that nonviolent action may cause unintentionally: if we undertake a nonviolent action, for example blocking a railroad to prevent an arms’ transport to proceed, and passengers of a civilian train are involved in an accident because of that, can we then still say that this is a nonviolent action? Many participated in this exciting debate, and there was no final agreement on the answer; it was found that the intention to change a situation with nonviolent means should not be put in question as something violent may happen that we have no control over – yet, all efforts need to be undertaken by nonviolent activists to explore possible harm that could happen, and to try to support people suffering from harm as a consequence of their action to overcome this situation.
We will be inviting those who completed the AVP Basic Workshop in January, May or earlier, for an AVP Advanced Level Workshop planned for June 24-26. In an AVP Advanced Level Workshop, the group will find a focus topic on the first day which will determine the sub-topic, exercises, gatherings and role plays during the remaining two days of the workshop.
A Refresher Training for AVP facilitators trained at PIASS is scheduled for July 20-21, 2019. In a Refresher Training, we work on topics and methods that are of interest to our AVP facilitators, exchange experiences, review approaches, tools and exercises with a focus on practicing facilitation and receiving feedback from our fellow facilitators.
(Participants role playing a situation of conflict)
Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) is a training program enabling participants to deal with potentially violent situations in new and creative ways. Workshops are delivered by our trained facilitators and are experiential (not based on lectures).
Its purpose is to help teach ways to
• manage strong feelings such as anger and fear
• deal more effectively with risk and threatening situations
• build good relationships with other people
• communicate constructively in difficult situations
• recognize the conflict management skills you already have
• be true to yourself while respecting other people
• understand why conflict happens
• approach conflict in a more creative and less reactive manner
• consider your own relationship to systems of violence”
Mini AVP workshop at Regional Conference of GIZ Civil Peace Service in Mombasa
During the Regional Conference of the GIZ Civil Peace Service program in November 2018, CRASPD organized and facilitated an AVP one-day mini workshop for the participants who were staff from all GIZ CPS programs in Africa, together with a GIZ CPS colleague from Burundi and the Coordinator of the AVP Kenyan Coastal Region and Prisons program in Kenya who had been in Huye to co-facilitate the AVP advanced workshop at PIASS in May 2018. There was great interest in AVP from participants working for GIZ CPS in other countries. A major article about AVP, authored by the three workshop facilitators, will appear in the documentation of the Regional Conference. Our hope is that we could contribute to the spreading of the AVP approach and motivate GIZ CPS to initiate and/ or support AVP in other countries, too.
First AVP Basic Level Workshop 2019: January 15-17 at PIASS
We are pleased that the first 2018 Alternatives to Violence Program Basic Workshop in 2019 raised a lot of interest from students and NGO staff, to the extent that we could not accept all who registered. 19 participants were spending an amazing time together and learnt a lot with and from each other.
One major insight from a cooperation exercise in this workshop was that it is crucial to consider diversity in groups and to care for those who are moving at a different pace or have different needs, so that nobody is left behind and goals can be achieved together.
AVP Advanced Level Workshop Mid-August 2018
12 persons, among them 2 from outside PIASS who had completed an Alternatives to Violence Program Basic Workshop, participated in the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) Advanced Workshop at PIASS Huye Campus from Friday, August 10 to Sunday, August 12, 2018, 16:00 (4 pm). It was facilitated by two AVP facilitators from Huye and Kigali with longstanding experience in all levels the AVP program and two Learning facilitators who had been trained in 2017. One of them already had prior experience in facilitating an AVP Basic Workshop.
AVP Training of Facilitators
15 new Learning Facilitators, 8 female and 7 male, were trained by a team of AVP facilitators, in a training from September 4 – 6, 2018. The training was organized by CRASPD in collaboration with GIZ Civil Peace Service and the Alternatives to Violence Program and took place at Emmaus Hostel in Huye Taba. The training team consisted of three facilitators experience on all three levels of AVP and one Learning Facilitator who had prior experience in facilitating AVP advanced and workshops in other experience-based programs.
After reviewing Transforming Power, the way facilitation is prepared and conducted in AVP, specificities of preparing workshops and single sessions, working together in an AVP facilitators’ team and giving and receiving constructive feedback, participants were divided in 4 practice teams. After a period of team preparation, those teams facilitated one session each, with the other participants and trainers’ team serving as participants. In the feedback sessions later, the practice team members would receive feedback for their facilitation, starting with the practice team itself and the plenary after that. An impressive list of lessons learnt was later compiled from this process. In the “Way Forward” the participants learnt that upon completion of this training, they could be invited to be in a team with more experienced people to facilitate AVP Basic Level Workshops and to start the Alternatives to Violence Program in their communities or in the organizations / institutions where they work, be it in Rwanda, DRC, Burundi or elsewhere on the planet.
Refresher Training for AVP Facilitators September 2018
For the weekend after the latest Training of Facilitators, the team welcomed the Coordinator of the AVP Rwanda Program to be in the team of a Refresher Training for the AVP Learning Facilitators who had been trained in October 2017; since some had moved on to new locations for work or further studies, founded families or returned to their home communities, only half of the 16 facilitators were able to join. Some of the facilitators had been involved in teams for different AVP workshops at PIASS and elsewhere and shared their experiences, challenges and achievements. A very intensive work with a lot of practice sessions on the facilitation of gatherings, exercises, and role plays took place, with constructive feedback for every one of the facilitators who had the confidence to lead a session or a unit. We all learnt a lot and were glad to link up again, after almost 1 year. We hope to involve more of the Learning Facilitators in future, so that they can gain more experience and confidence.
AVP Facilitators from PIASS at AVP Africa Regional Gathering
The AVP Africa Regional Gathering (ARG) took place in Uganda at Social Innovation Academy (SINA) in Mpigi District from November 4 to November 10. Five AVP facilitators – two males and three females – represented the PIASS Local Group of the South of Rwanda. Nine countries could attend the ARG despite financial shortcomings that the organizers had faced.
The delegation reported back that the President of AVP International participated and used an interactive way to present the connections of AVP around the world in terms of countries with AVP programs, areas they intervene in (prisons, schools, universities, communities), the creation of new country programs, number of facilitators and different other aspects of AVP in the world. This session resulted in a beautiful net that showed that, even if some people might think that not much is happening, there are more connections happening in the AVP network than one can see.
Participants got also an opportunity to develop strategies of sustaining AVP in Africa without relying a lot on donations. They also got a presentation on the work that AVP International Education Committee is doing. They were reminded that the AVP work is a voluntary work from the international level to the grassroots’ level.
In another session, each country delegation presented their activities they. It was also a good opportunity to ask questions and link up for some of those who were interested to do activities together. A special session was held to share experiences of doing AVP workshops in prisons and challenges faced; some challenges were specific to certain contexts (e.g: Kenya and Namibia) and others were shared in different countries. Some of those challenges were poverty in prisons, some inmates having a violence background, and that prison management is not always cooperative to AVP activities. But there were also success stories, like inmates who become AVP facilitators and, after their release, tgo back to prisons as facilitators. Some life-long sentenced inmates who become AVP facilitators help in facilitating workshops even with difficult-to-manage inmates.
The delegation from PIASS liked the preparation of the ARG and the venue and learnt how AVP International functions as an institution, how it bridges connections among country programs and how we can get more involved on the regional level. One of the AVP facilitators from Huye said “We left the gathering with more confidence in the work we do as AVP Facilitators and more commitment to take the approach to more people.”
We are grateful that GIZ Civil Peace Service has made funding available for the travel and participation of our delegates.
AVP Advanced Level Workshop held May 29-31, 2018
The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Advanced Level Workshop, PIASS, Huye Campus, May 29 – 31, 2018, was organized by the Center for Research and Action towards Sustainable Peace and Development (CRASPD) at the Protestant Institute of Arts and Social Sciences (PIASS) Faculty of Development Studies, in collaboration with giz Civil Peace Service (ZFD) Rwanda. As usual for Alternatives to Violence Program Advanced Workshops, the team had invited people persons who had completed an AVP Basic Level Workshop, either at PIASS or somewhere else. The team of AVP Facilitators was composed of a Lecturer at PIASS, a visiting facilitator from AVP Kenya, and the International Peace Advisor of giz Civil Peace Service based at CRASPD/ PIASS. 9 women and 10 men, 11 of them students at PIASS, and the others y coming from NGOs or institutions, actively participated. In contrast to the set program of a Basic Level Workshop, participants, in a consensus decision making exercise, chose the topic t to focus on during the 3 day workshop. This time, the group selected the focus topic “How do we cope with a conflict with people who are close to us, especially in family, without losing self-respect or harming/ hurting them?” In different gathering, practical exercises and role plays in the approach of the “Theater of the Oppressed”, the group explored the topic and found some answers to their questions and had the opportunities to practice ways to de-escalate conflict situations and empathize with themselves and others to nonviolently deal with them. On the last day, small groups drew their vision of how harmonious relationships with those who are close to us, may look like.
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Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) Workshop at PIASS with participants from six civil society organizations in March 2018.
AVP is a training program enabling participants to deal with potentially violent situations in a new, positive, and creative way (www.avp.international). The AVP Basic Level workshop in March 2018 brought together 8 male and 8 female participants, 8 of them Rwandan and international students of PIASS from the Faculty of Development Studies BA program of Peace & Conflict Studies and BA program for Rural & Community Development, and from the Faculty of Theology. The other 8 participants came from six civil society organizations in Rwanda and DRC. The team would like to express their gratitude for the support without which the workshop could not have been organized, from the Japanese mission support group, as well as Dr. Kazuyuki and Floriane Niyungeko from the Centre for Research & Action towards Sustainable Peace & Development (CRASPD) of PIASS.
AVP Basic Level Workshop held in June 2017
In cooperation with CRASPD, the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP), conducted the second Basic Workshop this year, with 18 participants June 9 – 11, 2017 and the second Advanced Workshop this year August 16-18, 2017, with 11 participants, at PIASS Huye, bringing together mixed groups of students, graduates of PIASS and staff from NGOs.
In this Advanced Workshop, participants chose “Strengthening our use of skills in nonviolent communication to deal with conflict and anger”. Exciting exercises were followed by intense sharing of experiences about how transforming power can work through us to find nonviolent ways for conflict resolution. Groups practiced how we can express ourselves honestly, sharing what happened to us without mixing in judgement or blame, what we feel and need and what we would like “the other” to do or say next and how we can understand the feelings and needs behind a ‘violent’ message and give the other person empathy instead of ‘firing back’.
Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Training of 16 New Facilitators
On October 18, 2017, CRASPD, in collaboration with giz Civil Peace Service (CPS) Rwanda and the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) Rwanda, concluded a jointly organized 3 day Training of AVP Facilitators.
16 new AVP Learning Facilitators graduated, 9 of them male and 7 female; 3 of them come from Burundi, 6 from DRC, and 7 from Rwanda. 2 are residents of Kigeme Refugee Camp, 4 work for Nongovernmental Organizations (Child Fund Rwanda, Never Again Rwanda, Family Circles Love Lab Organization, ARCT Ruhuka), and one graduate is working for a government institution. We believe that the new AVP Facilitators will not only join teams at PIASS and with AVP Rwanda to take the Alternatives to Violence Program further here, but also extend it to their communities and to other Countries in the Region and beyond.