Three Inspiring Peace Stories

On May 18, 2011, in Articles, by admin

Three Inspiring Peace Stories
By Jean-Paul Chami (Beirut, Lebanon)

Since 2004 the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), has been carrying out many projects in the Middle East focusing on peace, dialogue, and reconciliation. During the past four years, one pivotal initiative has been a capacity building project for Iraqi NGOs working on conflict resolution and advocacy for peace all over Iraq.

One major component of this project has been a series of workshops for Iraqi and Lebanese youth on Intersectarian conflict and peaceful conflict transformation which took place in Lebanon once every year since 2006.  As part of this project, FDCD got to train Iraqi and Lebanese youth on conflict transformation skills. In Lebanon, a country that has had its share of civil strife and wars, our young Iraqi participants felt listened to and were able to connect with Lebanese youth.

There have been three main benefits to our young participants that are captured in the following three inspiring stories:

1)      “A healing experience”

Ziad, an Iraqi participant from Baghdad, stood up by the end of the workshop he was attending in February 2009 and said: “Thank you for reminding me of who I used to be”. No one understood his words until he started telling his story. Ziad, who is 28 years old today, has lost his son in one of the bombings that hit Baghdad few years ago. Ziad’s wife was devastated and was diagnosed to be mentally and psychologically in need for support and this is when her family decided to take her back in to look after her. In few months, Ziad has lost his family and his dreams, and everything he has hoped for crashed. Up until Ziad came to Lebanon, he has been hopeless about life and did not enjoy one single day. He has lost his friendly and fun nature. Luckily he was able to reconnect with himself during the training journey he has been on in Beirut, and to set on a new journey, a journey of healing.

2)      “A momentum for reconciliation and nonviolence”

“For two consecutive days I have been kidnapped and tortured”, says Khaled, one of the Iraqi participants in FDCD workshop in 2007. Khaled was abducted by two men in his village. “before coming to Lebanon I have bought a gun and was ready to murder the people who have done this to me. However, after having attended this training, now I refuse to such use violence. I am a graphic designer by profession, why do I want to kill? Justice can and should be served nonviolently”

3)      “A chance for changing opinions”

One of the highlights of the youth workshop FDCD held in February 2009 was when Mohammad, one of the Lebanese participants, stood up and addressed the whole group by saying: “On the first day of training, during the morning activity, I told you all that I deeply believed that the conflict in Lebanon can never be peacefully transformed. Today, I would tell you that my perspective has totally changed and, yes, I know that our conflicts are difficult and hard to address, but I now believe that there are other options and other ways to address them, peaceful ways that we have to promote and use towards ending our disputes and work our way out of the vicious cycles of violence that both Lebanon and Iraq have been living through”.

Around 150 people have been trained by FDCD under the Iraq project so far and we know that there are many more such stories of reconciliation, forgiveness, change of attitude and behavior all inspired by the humble contribution that our organization and many other organizations in Lebanon and the region have been bringing through their dedication to peace work.

Originally posted here as part of a series produced by the Common Ground New Service ‘1001 Stories of Common Ground: Stories of Positive Change in the Middle East and North Africa’.

 

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