Peace Education and the “Power of Goodness” Project

ifa-logo-langAnnual budget: €85,000

Main donors, 2015-16: the project is funded by ifa (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen) with means of the German Federal Foreign Office; Blossom Hill Foundation; CSSF.

Two Chechen wars (1994-1996 und 1999-2009) and ongoing security threats affect the civilian population in Chechnya at a time when civil society organisations are under great pressure and scrutiny from local authorities. The war in Ukraine is not limited to the eastern part. Also other parts of the country (e.g. Odessa) face social polarisation and the effects of violent conflicts. The project focuses on children and youth affected by violence and trauma, supporting and training educators both from Odessa and regions further East close to the armed conflict. The partner organizations use their access to schools. Through guided reading of the stories „Power of Goodness: Stories of Reconciliation and Nonviolence“, role plays, music and art therapy young people are learning peaceful conflict transformation, tolerance and respect.

Through guided reading of the stories „Power of Goodness: Stories of Reconciliation and Nonviolence“, discussion, art-therapy, music and role-play, children will learn about peaceful conflict transformation, tolerance and respect. They will learn the benefits of not judging people by their ethnic or religious background and questioning prejudice, promoting dialogue and compromise and taking an active stance in their communities. The project provides creative models for resolving differences peacefully and building relationships and a society based on tolerance and justice.

This approach has been successfully used in Chechnya by psychologists and trainers of the partner organization. Their skills and knowledge will be transferred to their Ukrainian colleagues, which is considered extremely valuable in today’s very challenging situation.

Increased leadership skills and participation in their communities will help the young people who benefit from Power of Goodness in Chechnya and Ukraine to become more confident, resourceful members of their societies, better able to assist themselves and their families and to base their lives on peaceful and respectful relations, equipped with knowledge of nonviolent methods to address disputes and conflict.

Peacebuilding UK and local partner the Centre for Peacebuilding and Community Development Russian Charitable Fund have identified a significant need for peace and tolerance education in Chechnya, and initiatives to encourage nonviolent methods to resolve conflict and problems. This project addresses the remaining high levels of violence in Chechen society, promoting alternatives to violence that aim to inspire and provide real-life examples to young people and the wider society in which they live with ways to resolve conflict peacefully and break the cycles of violence that have gripped their region for so many years. The project promotes and shares the stories of the book Power of Goodness: Stories of Nonviolence and Reconciliation, in schools throughout Chechnya. This tri-lingual international book in Chechen, Russian and English promotes awareness of peaceful and non-violent ways to deal with conflict, build tolerance and encourage respect for human rights.

In 2015, 110 seminars are being conducted in Chechnya with 275 teachers in 20 schools and two higher education institutions in using Power of Goodness as a peace and tolerance education tool. Each of the teachers will attend 4 half-day training seminars. There will be approximately 10 teachers at each training seminar.

The 275 teachers/ lecturers will conduct at least 5 peace and education classes with their tutor groups during weekly tutor group periods in school. Around 25 students will attend these classes (less at the university and film institute). The Little Star psychologists will stay in close contact with the teachers during this period, and will visit the classes to provide occasional support and assistance.

4 ‘Little Star’ psychologists conduct therapeutic workshops with creative activities such as simulation games and visual art, music, dance, movement and drama activities to develop inter- personal communication skills and provide a safe space with support and respect, for 250-300 young people referred by teachers engaged in the project. Individual counselling and relaxation exercises will provide more in-depth psychosocial rehabilitation work for those children who require it.

Two training modules have been conducted in Odessa, Ukraine for two groups of psychologists, teachers and volunteers by Little Star psychologists and trainers from our Ukrainian partner Odessa Regional Group for Mediation (ORGM). 12-14 November a training for trainers was conducted for 25 Ukrainian partners from the above groups. The 25 participants will now design and run their own trainings in their communities in south and east Ukraine, with support from ORGM and the Little Star psychologists.