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Alternatives to Violence

The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) began in 1975, when a group of inmates near New York City asked a local Quaker group to provide them with non-violence training. Highly experiential in nature, the workshop encourages participants to recognize that they can best find their own answers to the conflicts they encounter.

AVP workshops focus on the following themes:
>Seeking that which is good in ourselves and others
>Community building skills: trust, respect, and inclusiveness
>Communication skills: deep listening, speaking with clarity, and responsibility
>Conflict Transformation

There are three levels of AVP training: Basic, Advanced, and Training for Facilitators. All workshops last for three days and emphasize building community among participants. The Basic workshop provides an initial introduction to the concepts outlined above. In the Advanced workshops, participants choose the thematic focus that they want to explore more fully. Examples of such themes include fear, anger, forgiveness, or discrimination. In the Training for Facilitators, participants learn the skills needed to lead workshops on their own.

Current programs
Rwanda: AVP-Rwanda has recently done basic workshops with HIV-positive individuals and the Kigali branch of the micro-enterprise bank. They are planning a series of 20 workshops in a “hot-spot” area of Rwanda—this means a community where many people still subscribe to “genocide ideology” and continue violence against the Tutsi population. These workshops will include five workshops each for women, youth, community leaders, and opinion leaders in the community. The goal is to establish a core of experienced AVP graduates within the district who will then work to lower the violence level in the community.

Burundi: AVP-Burundi plans on conducting a series of workshops with the “Guardians of the Peace.” These were young men, mostly Tutsi, who were given guns, but no training or pay, and required to patrol neighborhoods during the night. They now are being demobilized and turning in their guns. Therefore this is an idea opportunity to train them in non-violent methods of peacemaking and conflict resolution.

Congo: In July 2005 the first AVP trainings, supported by AGLI, were completed in Bukavu, South Kivu. The Change Agents Peace Program (CAPP) of Norwegian Quaker Service has introduced AVP in Goma and surrounding communities in North Kivu.

Kenya: Workshops have been recently completed in Eldoret with prison officials, with the community in Lugari, and with youth from the Uzima Foundation in Nairobi. Others will occur in the community near Eldoret. AVP-Kakamega plans on translating the AVP Basic Manual into Swahili. Plans are being developed to introduce AVP in the traditional pastoral communities of Turkana and Samburu where much ethnic conflict is occurring.

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