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Capacity building in conflict and post conflict arias

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Jovana Skrijel

on 19 January 2017

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Transcript of Capacity building in conflict and post conflict arias

1. Disposition and readiness of the local community
Contrary to assistance and emergency programs (which can take place even within a passive community of 'beneficiaries'), capacity-building entails the active participation of the latter and, therefore, it cannot occur without its disposition and readiness to the process.
4. Preparation of the action
It is important to get to know the context of the action from
therefore physical closeness to the latter is helpful.
3. Getting the trust of the community
Be prepared to invest time, efforts, resources and intercultural competences in a process which might not be immediate!
Throughout the whole process pay special attention to:
Reexamine the process and your courses of action together with locals and check whether you're on the right path!
Capacity building in conflict and post conflict areas
Civic Empowerment
Multiplying effect
8. Think global...and plan international joint civil actions
2. Engage
with the local community
6. Open the community up to the outside
5. Work together (not for)
7. Organize an international voluntary workcamp(s)
Main tips on how to organize workcamps in post conflict arias
Start from the members of the local community who show more interest!
Identify together feasible goals, objectives, target groups, strategies and methodologies, and cast them in a workplan.
Do not underestimate the relevance of the cooperation with members of the local community even from this preliminary but decisive phase (the risk of a top-down intervention must be carefully warded off since the beginning!)
... And point to
Campaign and raise awareness outside
...To insert the community in a network of global solidarity; to enhance its pro-activeness; to foster a sense of global belonging and awareness.
...to ensure a multiplying effect
Do not forget that capacity-building is ultimately about fostering the
'literacy' of the community, which shall become able to articulate
rights-claims and to pursue their enactment.


There's no Capacity Building without:


Civic Empowerment is about ownership and long-term sustainable plans...
„War isnt funny. The training should be tough. When they (volunteers) will be there, they will be on their own. They have to know how to behave in the face of danger.“ Aslanbek, Checnya

During SCI seminar „Volunteering for peace: Capacity building for work in and with conflict regions“ that took place in Barnstorf, Germany (20.1.-27.1.2014.), a group of participants, young people interested in the topic together with psychologist Zdenka Pantić, expert in the area of rehabilitation of victims of conflict/war, devised an overview of some important things for a trainer/sending organisation to keep in mind BEFORE, DURING and AFTER volunteers stay in conflict area.
The most important ideas and skills a training for sending volunteers into conflict have to do with how to survive, and behave in the face of danger. Training has to be realistic and selective as possible, conveying the real danger of volunteering in conflict. However, here we cover only the psychological aspect of such training.
Research shows (B. Schwartz, 2010.) that people work better when provided with less rules or tips, as it enables them to engage with more personal responsibility, creativity and, what B. Schwartz calls practical wisdom. For this reason, we provide here a few ideas on the topic, but the majority of work is in the hands of future trainers and volunteers going into conflict areas.
SCI - Volunteer training pre-departure checklist
Volunteer doesn’t want to save the world, help.
Volunteer doesn’t want to sacrifice his/her life
Volunteer knows SCI’s philosophy (
SCI doesn’t do international cooperation
) (1st sci workcamp interactive presentation
Volunteer is aware of the limited impact of his/her participation in the project.
Volunteer tolerates ambiguous situations
Volunteer is ready to accept local rules
Volunteer is aware of the culture and political entity s/he represents.
Volunteer has reflected on how to bear/face violence s/he will be confronted to.: link to psychology group
Volunteer is aware of his/her own limits and has reflected on his/her psychological resources.
Volunteer knows how to travel regarding visa, health and insurance, transport.
Volunteer got information about her/his destination and the conflict.
Volunteer is informed about practical safety. (Specific questions for the hosting organization (arrestation, carry passport…))
There are three main elements that should be there before going into a certain conflict zone:

1. Having as much deep and real knowledge of the different aspects and history of the conflict as possible away from the poor media reports which give a false image only.

2. Awareness of the volunteers that they are not going to solve the conflict; namely, they are going to give help to individuals, not even groups.

3. Knowing that these situations are momentary, and they (the volunteers) will return after a while to their normal lives. They should know that part of ther role is to be psychologically solid and able to concentrate on giving help.“ Omyma, Egypt
give a volunteer a clear, simple and realistic description of his/hers roles and tasks on the field, that will be assessed later in the follow up phase; make sure there (s)he understands hers/his roles and tasks

knowing that it is not her/his role to solve the problem or end the conflict. All (s)he can do is show appreciation (not sympathy) to people.“ Omayma, Egypt

clarify the responsibilities of all parties involved; make sure volunteer understands that (s)he is a part of a bigger work and support network
provide volunteer with a mentor from the sending organization with whom (s)he will be regularly in contact (pre-agreed schedule); possibly peer support (somebody with similar experience)
connect volunteer beforehand with hosting organization (first-hand information on what are the conditions of living and working in specific conflict)
connect volunteer with others that have volunteered in conflict (sharing experience, support, understanding)
a volunteer already has a social support system in her/his life – family, friends, spouses; they convey a sense of normality and identity for the volunteer
provide preparation training for the volunteers
having primary knowledge of the language and culture in conflict area; also practices that dont depend on language, such as arts or sports
Knowing the language supports volunteers existence among the locals who appreciate her/his attempts to respect and care about communicating with them.„ Omayma, Egypt
knowledge of historical, political, social, economical and other infomation of the area, from other sources than the media which often conveys false imagery
Does the volunteer have insight into her/his motivation and other psychological aspects of work in conflict? (What kind of a person am I? Am I ready to give up when it comes to a point that is too much for me? Where are my limits?)
Find out about and work with: personal motivation, personal experience and background, empathy - emotional distance, limits of empathy, stress and burn out, personal problems and possible regressions in stress, exercises in getting out of comfort zone, balance, toughness, relaxation and physical exercises, etc.
provide few, simple and important rules
provide a support network for the volunteers
clarifying the roles and tasks of the volunteers, trainers, sending and hosting organizations, and other parties involved.
(N.B. here we only mention some tips for the psychological preparation)
„If a volunteer goes to conflict area, (s)he should be very confident about the side (s)he will take in the conflict. If locals doubt that you are on their side, your tolerance will be useless. They wont trust you.“ Aslanbek, Checnya

Far from home and from his trainer, volunteer needs to practice what (s)he has learnt in training, by meeting people and facing challenges. The trainer can supervise the volunteer through weekly reports and correspondence. Here, the trainer should think in volunteers frame of reference/mind, not ones own. In other words, if somebody says: “This is a problem for me.” then one should take it as such, and not compare it to ones own experience. People have different needs and the only way to respect and/or meet them is by giving them psychological validity.
To keep in touch via Skype or mail might be a good way to interact and share what thoughts and feelings are passing by. Facebook is less appropriate for disclosing information about conflict or any personal intimate insights one might have. Moreover, the volunteer should stay in communication with his fellows, friends and family members, even if not too frequently. It might seem it is hard to talk about what is happening, or to get into stories from home, but it is important to stay in touch – to get out of worry, stress, to laugh, to think of positive things, to talk about what is important to a person, to remind oneself of ones personal reality.
Volunteer has to be aware of the most common scenes (s)he is going to witness, such as: listening to testimonies from traumatized people; daily life in local communities destroyed at a social, cultural and economical level; cohabitation in deeply divided and/or confronted societies; injustice, view of violence and abuse of basic human rights, suffering and even death.

Volunteer lives side by side with local people, ready to listen to opinions they are willing to share, without forgetting to meet disabled and injured people who have witnessed death and pain. It’s interesting to be surrounded by young and very young people in order to build a mutual trust with each other, through involvement into games, events and any kind of gathering taking place in that conflict area. By conquering the trust and comprehension of locals, it is easier to get acquainted with other categories inside the local community that volunteer wishes to enter.
During volunteering, it might be helpful to:
1. Involve in gatherings of children at first and youth in his/her age. These specific gatherings help in melting shyness and fear of the whole new community. Children gatherings provide innocence and clear direct reactions while youth gatherings can provide a quick realization of the mutual human commons even though difference in religion and language. Then, it will be easier to deal with other categories in the community.
2. Make continuous review of his/her role as a volunteer, noting his/her small successes in communicating through writing diaries, audio recordings and photos (any material product that can be reviewed).
3. Present his/her own culture through real human experiences and helping people in getting known to it and accepting discussion around it or even criticizing it as this may help in breaking ice between him/her as a foreigner and them as locals.
4. Believe in the fact that there are no nations born to cruelty and violence, and that under each cultural or religious skin, however thick it is, there is a common human soul everywhere that can be communicated and it this is our goal as volunteers.
Done with her/his tasks, far from people (s)he is daily working with, her/his leisure time is also essential. It allows the volunteer to go back to (moments of) ordinary life, which must rise everywhere, even where there is conflict - in order to free her/his mind, to meet new people out of work, to be seen by local youth as part of the community. Some good ideas to involve local youth in some fun activities (if possible) is to organize a soccer match, a cultural evening concerning art, cinema, theatre, by discovering new skills and attitudes towards others. If such initiatives already exist, a volunteer can join in. //In any case, it is important to always respect the culture and customs of the community one is living in, however different from ones own culture and customs.//
In private time, a volunteer can keep notes in a diary or a blog, by writing reports and articles, along with pictures and recordings, which might be useful to organizations (s)he is working for. In this way, (s)he puts on paper her/his own thoughts and impressions about what is happening, in order to become more aware about what (s)he is experiencing. Other creative practices one might use are: automatic writing, painting, dancing, reading, photographing, etc. If one already has some healthy routines, best to stick with them. They give a lot of positive energy in everyday life, and in crisis as well. Relaxation through meditation, breathing, exercising etc. is also a good idea to get out of stress and back in balance.
1. Adaptation
Coming back the vol is changed, feels detached from oneself, family, friends; takes time to regain perspective. // It will take time for the person to reintegrate, it is normal that a person is detached and wishes to isolate for a while upon return – wants to have peace to put experience into place. //
How long is too long to start socialising? – Best to see with other volunteers with this experience how it was in their case.)
What positive feelings might be there: pride, strenght, compassion, wish to continue to spread the peaceful agenda, happiness to be back home, feeling of personal safety;
What negative feelings might be there: helplessness, loss of meaning, shame, confusion, wish to isolate, „black thoughts“, trauma, stress related disorders (sleep, libido, appetite);
Learning ones limits; what helps – learning ones needs;
Take care of body (sports, exercise, relaxation, not engage in bad habits); Ideally to spend time in nature, hiking, climbing, swimming etc.;
New experience can help put in a different frame our own lives; our personal problems seem smaller.
Keep in contact with vols with similar experience; for the vol to see (s)he is not alone in his/hers feelings etc. // Role of the sending org in the follow up: make sure the vol is in contact with others with this experience, encourage, provide contacts, organize group discoussion if needed. //
It’s important to help the volunteer re-integrate to his/her environment once they are back. Help the volunteers cope with the experiences they had (past), put it into place within their personal history. Help the volunteers deal with the emotions they feel at the moment (present), both positive and negative. And help them find new goals (future).
2.Follow up

Responsibility of the sending organization to do follow up; how?
There should be some follow up structure provided for the vol which he/she knows of before hand and has agreed upon it. Here reflect on the roles (in prep training give the vol a structured idea of what are the his/hers roles there, in follow up take them in reflexion. As little and as realistic roles and tasks as possible. This will keep expectations realistic, and later relieve negative feelings, also on the communication and support with sending and host organization (make the person aware it is a team effort not an individual one).
It would be good if all the time the vol had a mentor who knows his/hers specific situation. This person can also be helpful, first it is important to welcome (Thank you, ask How are you, What do you need now), than to encourage him/her to talk (privacy and trust are necessary) – active listening, no framing; if he/she doesnt want to talk, respect silence and give time.
The mentor can help the volunteer pointing out new aims. How do they want to use the experience they had? Short-term, long-term ideas, plans? What is their next goal (not necessarily connected to volunteering or the topic), what could be the steps in achieving it?
If possible, provide creative ways of expression: art therapy, voice and body work, etc. – words can retraumatise, nonverbal helps.
[Exercise example 1.: Draw into a bag all the things you brought with you back from your voluntary project in the conflict region. Not objects, but abstractly. Explain to each other what’s in your „bags”. Make lists what are the things in your bag that you would like to keep and what are the things you would like to leave behind. How do they think it would be possible to leave the wanted things behind and how could they bring on what they want to?]
[ Example exercise 2.: If vol wants he/she can write a letter to a new vol going to conflict with advice and experience, put it in an envelope and open it in half a year or so, redo it (add/take away), give to other vol (a thread of peer support).]
Offer (but dont demand) vol activities in the sending organization (after the first period of adaptation passes), help to reintegrate in the organization, show respect, learn from him/her, connect him to others with such experience, provide opportunity to use this experience to make sending better .
There can be group discussions, presentations held for the public, who are interested in the topic. It’s a way how a volunteer can continue to be involved with the topic, still continue to work with the issue from a different perspective, giving information, an insight for other people.
The vol must not be used or feel used by the sending organization. Showing respect and reliability after is important. If the sending organization wishes to get vols experience always respect his/hers spoken or unspoken limits (his/hers feelings are more important than the story - help the volunteer in adaptation by helping them put this experience into it’s place in their personal history, helping them deal with their actual emotions, thoughts, problems in a constructive way and helping them create new goals, to go on with life).
This publication was possible thanks to co-financing from the European Youth Foundation, Strasbourg, to whom we would like to express our sincere gratitude. Sole responsibility for the contents of this publication rest with the author.
art in action
permaculture in sri lanka
where it all started
start a movement in 3 minutes
...and if this it's too much
whatch and...
before launching new projects
check list
New project checklist
Tap in the amazing power of post traumatic growth
(both in new and same community as previous proejcts)
how is economical sustainable?
how is people sustainable?
how is positive, (no victims)?
how is localy driven?
did you started as small as you could?
for how long are you committing yourself for the long term?
do you have well enough the local community?
do you have the trust of the local community?
(if in the same community)
how much you reduce the involvement of the "outsiders" and increase the empowerment of the local actors?
how much have you reduce your involvement and decrease your power
how many more task and responsabilities are you able to delegate compare to the last project?
if no one sign up for your actions cancell them, it's never about what you want but what it's need it
plementina kosovo
Theater of the oppressed workshops to teach how to use the method and ultimately creating a local theater of the oppressed group and future trainer of theater of the oppressed localy
long term goals never forget the importance of small and intermediate victories to sustain refesh the strenght to keep fighting
ulimately open up community and to not regenerate a new ghetto or renforce sterotype. Make community their advocate
Power of positive stories
never waste a crises or a failure
commitment (in terms of years) makes all the difference (otherwise you are parachuting in and out of community and your project(s) will never have a lasting effect)
never mind how much you think it's important to do it
General Rule
what have you learn so far
what mistakes you made and what have you learn from those faiulre
what mistakes you did and would like to avoid in the future
find some person you trust that can review honestly and frankly with you last project
personal excercise
after personal excercise try to do with the group of people (as big and open as possible) engaged in the process civil empowerment
People to ask more info and support about specific topics and future actions
Emanuela Piccolo
Matteo Testino
the only aid we want it's the one that eliminate the need of the aid (Thoma Sankara)
book tips
the horrors of aid
food for thoughts
Say no to Charity
failure report
Want to help shut up & listen
post traumatic growth
help africa....
SCI doesn’t do international cooperation
Citizen behiond walls
Turn crises in opportunities of growth
A hazard facing mass movements is the NGO-ization of resistance. It will be easy to twist what I’m about to say into an indictment of all NGOs. That would be a falsehood. In the murky waters of fake NGOs set up or to siphon off grant money or as tax dodges (in states like Bihar, they are given as dowry), of course, there are NGOs doing valuable work. But it’s important to consider the NGO phenomenon in a broader political context.

In India, for instance, the funded NGO boom began in the late 1980s and 1990s. It coincided with the opening of India’s markets to neoliberalism. At the time, the Indian state, in keeping with the requirements of structural adjustment, was withdrawing funding from rural development, agriculture, energy, transport and public health. As the state abdicated its traditional role, NGOs moved in to work in these very areas. The difference, of course, is that the funds available to them are a minuscule fraction of the actual cut in public spending.

Most large-funded NGOs are financed and patronized by aid and development agencies, which are, in turn, funded by Western governments, the World Bank, the UN and some multinational corporations. Though they may not be the very same agencies, they are certainly part of the same loose, political formation that oversees the neoliberal project and demands the slash in government spending in the first place.

Why should these agencies fund NGOs? Could it be just old-fashioned missionary zeal? Guilt? It’s a little more than that. NGOs give the impression that they are filling the vacuum created by a retreating state. And they are, but in a materially inconsequential way. Their real contribution is that they defuse political anger and dole out as aid or benevolence what people ought to have by right. They alter the public psyche. They turn people into dependent victims and blunt the edges of political resistance. NGOs form a sort of buffer between the sarkar and public. Between Empire and its subjects. They have become the arbitrators, the interpreters, the facilitators.

In the long run, NGOs are accountable to their funders, not to the people they work among. They’re what botanists would call an indicator species. It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context.

Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually–on a smaller scale, but more insidiously–the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it).

Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job. With a few perks thrown in. Real resistance has real consequences. And no salary.
The NGO-ization of resistance (by Arundhati Roy)
Jovana Škrijel
„I think sharing ideas is certainly helpful. ... These thoughts all center on understanding different human motivatons due to political, economic or social circumstances.“ Omayma, Egypt
Volunteers coming back from a (post-)conflict region have to be aware of a reverse culture shock they might face. More about the reverse culture shock you can read in the chapter „Coming back“ of this manual.
Here we comment on the most common situations that happen or may happen to the volunteer upon return to his/hers home country.
Full transcript