MBBI’s International Training Institute (ITI) equips women around the globe with peacebuilding skills to transform their local communities. Since the first training in Istanbul-Turkey (2013), MBBI has hosted trainings in three additional world regions. A previous article shares incredible stories of women from the Andean region and the Middle East. In this part II, women from Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe give further inspiration.
Raihal Fajri – Instilling Truth and Reconciliation
Raihal Fairi, Executive Director of the Kathati Institute, is committed to building peace in Aceh province of Indonesia. Her home, Aceh, endured a 30-year conflict and a disastrous tsunami. Now, over 13 years after this dual devastation, Raihal works to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) mission in Aceh.
While the Aceh TRC was being established in 2016, Raihal participated in ITI-Jakarata. She relished a chance to learn negotiation skills to effectively communicate with government leaders to execute the mandates of the Aceh TRC. Raihal shares, “I learned strategies of how to be a good negotiator. Before I just knew how to be a facilitator, but now I know how to be a good negotiator.”
Although Raihal entered ITI seeking negotiation skills, she left with so much more. Through ITI, Raihal acquired:
- Tools to advocate for victims and women ex-combatants served by the local reintegration agency;
- Leadership and vision to help solve root problems related to the Aceh TRC; and
- Confidence to share her experience with a global audience at a United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
As Indonesia prepares to celebrate 14 years of peace in August 2018, Raihal expresses, “The agreement process is good on the surface, but we still have problems. Implementation is not finished, and the reintegration process is not smooth. For combatants, it is difficult to transform. People know how to struggle, but they don’t yet have the skills to live in peace.”
As Indonesia builds peace and recovery, Raihal remains optimistic – hopeful that an accomplished TRC will help bring healing and reconciliation to Aceh.
Elena Krasilshchik– Building Relationships and Renewal
Elena Krasilshchik is a compassionate Jewish woman who serves as a program coordinator with a non-profit organization, Project Kesher. She has over 30 years of experience teaching youth in Russia. Since 2006 through Project Kesher programs, Elena has been teaching and coaching Jewish women in leadership development and cultural tolerance.
In 2017, Elena led a group of women from Project Kesher to participate in ITI-Minsk. She is proud of colleagues who undertook impressive projects because of ITI. These women have conducted training seminars in the region and popularized mediation in their communities. They have also taught mediation principles to policemen and created school-based mediation programs in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
For Elena, ITI had a lasting professional and personal influence. With skills from ITI, Elena:
- Offers mediations to students in schools;
- Hosts mediation workshops with a women’s group in her Jewish community;
- Resolved problematic issues with her relatives, encouraged by the transformative power of mediation, building stronger relationships with her family.
An experience with a dear friend prompted Elena to enter the conflict resolution field. After years of distress from a personal conflict, her friend developed and passed away from cancer. Elena recalls poignantly, “It was a great suffering and stress that I learned mediation too late. I didn’t help her heal from her trauma.”
An opportunity to help people overcome trauma and reconcile with others motivates Elena’s devotion to mediation. She believes “We must help people, not just in political conflicts, but in our everyday lives. When you work with people on a grassroots level, there is a hope that you will reach a friendly, safe, and peaceful society.”
Both Raihal and Elena express deep gratitude for the MBBI training and concur that such a rare opportunity as ITI must continue and multiply. Meeting inspiring women and learning from remarkable trainers left a profound impact. To any woman considering the training, Elena urges:
The women trainers impressed us with deep knowledge of mediation and open hearts. ITI is an opportunity for a young woman to develop herself and to build good relationships and peaceful surroundings.
Raihal dreams too. She explains:
A chance to be included in this training is so useful. I hope to conduct a training like ITI in Indonesia for friends in Aceh who cannot speak English. Then many people in my country can receive the knowledge I have now.
Article by Kayla Elson, MBBI Writer.