Alternatives to Violence Program

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.

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.



Role Play(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

RolePlay in an AVP Advanced Workshop 2017
•    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.StandCirc_1

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.chartTeambuilding

  • 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.

ARG_2018_UgandaThe 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

peaCandle.jpgThe 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, focusTopicConsProcessparticipants, 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 brokenSquares_1.jpgapproach 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 (  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 NgroupPH_AVP_ToF_2017ew 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.

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