July 11, 2008 Kigali


Friday am. hot and dusty.

It's not often that you can read the most recent National Geographic and find yourself in the area of the cover story, but that is the case. The article on a killing of 7 mountain gorillas is featured in the July 2008 issue. Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo is where it takes place and that is where I'll be doing mediation training. There are about 7 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps around Goma. IDP implies that people in the camps are not refugees from another country but they have been turned out of their homes in their own country. Because of this they do not have any special status under the UN. They get what they get to survive from their own country and also from Non Governmental Organizations (NGO's). There are a number of Quakers living in these camps and we will be upgrading the training of the mediators we trained last year and they will be going into the camps to mediate conflicts between the residents. At each site I will go to, I will do three day of intensive training using the transformative model of mediation. Then on the following two days I will observe and give feedback on six mediations done the camps. This is going to be a truly unique opportunity for all of us, both trainer and trainees. I will do the same in Uvira and Goma (The Congo), Gitega (Burundi) and Kigali (Rwanda). Also I'll do a two day training with some university students I've worked with in the past in Kigali. Two of them will also be invited to participate in the advanced training here in Kigali. These five courses will be followed up with a regional meeting of mediators for three days which I'll be helping to organize. This will be in Gitega, Burundi, and then I'll come home on August 20. I do plan to spend two days in Ethiopia to relax on the way home.


I had the understanding when I came out here that I would be training trainers to teach mediation, but I learned yesterday that that is not the case. Instead we will be giving advanced training to establish a core of really good mediators who will through their work, make this happen in this part of the world. There are traditional forms of mediation that exist over here and are used, but western style mediation is quite different. There traditional form of mediation more closely resembles arbitration where the arbitrator actually makes a decision for the disputants.

The transformative model is less concerned with dispute settlement than with empowerment and recognition of the disputants to each other's situation and development of an ongoing link in communication that will continue even though they might not resolve the dispute. There is a lot more self determination, and less or no mediator driven deal making. It's a lot mor complex than that , and many readers already know this, but for the uninitiated , that' it in a nutshell.

Transformative is not a style that I habitually use at Juvenile Court, but I have been trained in Transformative by the US Postal Service, also attended a workshop led by Joe Folger oneof the elaborators of Transformative, and recently attended a training using this model to mediate family conflict amongst US soldiers and spouses, the origin of which is the stress of their military service and frequent redeployment.

I met for an hour yesterday with Brigit Butt, a local legend, who with David Bucura has organized this series of courses. Funding is coming from a Norwegian organization CAPI. She has been in Africa 21 years and has really devoted her life to this continent. She is originally from Toronto.

Part of the excitement for me is that I'll get to see parts of the Congo that I hadn't expected to see. I'll travel down the west sideof Lake Kivu to Bukavu, then on down to Uvira for the fourth course, before going over to Burundi. In Uvira, the mediators will be doing cases between IDP's who are long time traditional enemies, the Babembe and a group of Tutsi who have lived many generations in the Congo. I'm only beginning to learn of some of these conflicts. They are not in the news.

So the rest of the day I'm planning my courses from this new approach. Samuel Kamanzi who will be my host/protector in Goma met me this AM and we did some planning and he went on to Goma. I'm writing this from an internet cafe about half a mile from where I am staying. I'd walked with Samuel to the bus stop and decided to come over here to send this.

Kigali July 11, 2008


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