ICF and Shanti Nepal Held a Peace Thematic Workshop in Bhaktapur

In partnership with Shanti Nepal, the ICF National Forum of Nepal, ICF held a five-day peace workshop on the themes of Human Rights, Conflict Analysis and Non-Violent Communication. This was held during September 9-14, 2015 at Bhaktapur Guest House located at the hilltop of Chundevi, Katunje, which is about 30 minute-drive from the capital city of Kathmandu. There were only 16 participants who were mostly young professionals, more than half being alumni of ICF’s School of Peace from 2007 – 2017.

Following the preliminaries of orientation and introductions of participants facilitated by Umesh KC, the ICF Coordinator, Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro introduced the History and Mission of YMCA, as well as the Programs of APAY. A School of Peace alumnus, Shreeram Chaudhary, an attorney-at-law and currently the chair of Shanti Nepal, led the discussion on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). He highlighted the document as the “mother” of all other conventions and protocols including the International Humanitarian Law. He also pointed out that the sacred texts of some religions were among the sources in the formulation of the UDHR. He further juxtaposed the UDHR with the Nepali Constitution to show that human rights have a space in the law of the Nepali land.

The ICF Coordinator, Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro, gave a lecture-workshop on Conflict Analysis as a basic step towards peacebuilding. Then she introduced the Reflecting on Peace Practice (RPP) approach to conflict analysis and conflict mapping. The participants responded that the approach was rather new to them. Their seeming difficulty stemmed from the exercises that required not just a good grasp of the conflict but also in identifying the specific key factors and actors for and against peace. The conflict mapping exercise further challenged the participants to go deep in their analysis and in locating the specific key actors, factors, and a window in the area that could serve as the point of entry for their intervention program.

The third theme revolved around Non-Violent Communication (NVC) based on the approach to non-violent living developed by Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Non-Violent Communication. A certified NVC facilitator, Amina Mambuay who hailed from the Philippines, facilitated the workshop. NVC is grounded on Rosenberg’s notion that we, as human beings, have inner gift for compassion and but we resort to violent language or behavior because we do not know how to express our observations, our feelings, our needs and our requests. As in Conflict Analysis perspective, when needs are not met, violence arises. It was clear that the participants wanted to explore an area to their hearts and their day-to-day life, as they got so engrossed in trying to analyze their own language particularly when they portrayed the language of the jackal (blaming) and the giraffe (connecting). It seemed simple, but the participants struggled on the mode of exercising non-violent communication by applying self-empathy, receiving emphatically and expressing honestly. As a result, almost everybody in the room clamored for a more thorough and intensive training on NVC.

Upon the ICF Coordinator’s assertion that health is a peace issue, one participant, a young pharmacist Kabin Maleku, offered to give a one-hour talk about health in relation to peace.

An aspect of the thematic workshops is a brief community exposure. During the Teej festival, when Hindu women wore red dresses, danced and prayed for the wellness of their their husbands, the group went to visit the village of Khokana in Lalitpur. This village is still recovering from the April 2015 earthquake that destroyed 90% of its structures. In their conversation with a community leader, the participants learned that Khokana, a rich farming valley, is facing the threat of being destroyed – its farms as well as its cultural and historical religious sites with the upcoming construction of a “fast track road” of the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway project. After the village, the group visited a non-government organization that serves as an umbrella of NGOs in the area. Then, the group went on to visit the Patan Museum and temples in Lalitpur. The place is intriguingly beautiful. These sacred places helps make one understand deeper both the Hindu and the Buddhist religious traditions, and how such traditions influenced the architecture of the structures built in the area.

The workshop was made meaningful with the morning prayers led by the participants,  a couple of teambuilding exercises in one of the evenings and community visit reflections led by ICF Program Officer Hem Sopharak. SoP alumni Bibek Shahi served as the over-all coordinator in organizing of the workshop.

— Muriel Orevillo-Montenegro



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