Peter Riddell
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29 May, 2020

The power of electronic media to share experiences of healing broken relationships and finding new purpose is finding fresh expression in a course entitled ‘Qualities and Strategies of Peacemakers’ (QSP-online).

Participants in the online course have the opportunity to view five documentary films produced for IofC, and given the chance to discuss with each other the lessons that can be drawn from them.

The first module is based on ‘The Man Who Built Peace - the Frank Buchman Story’ which sets the context for the subsequent films. It is followed by ‘For the Love of Tomorrow’ in which four people work together in teamwork to help an embittered French politician open her heart to the German people after the Second World War.

The third module uses ‘The Imam and the Pastor’, a story of healing between people of different religions in northern Nigeria in the 1990s. And the fourth, ‘An African Answer’, shows the imam and the pastor applying their mediation techniques to inter-ethnic conflict in Kenya in 2008.

The final module focuses on post-colonial reconciliation between black and white South Africans in the film, ‘Beyond Forgiving’.

In the 1½ to 2-hour modules, participants come together on a Zoom conference-call for an introduction to the module, then watch the films on Vimeo or YouTube, and finally come back together on Zoom to analyse what the peacemakers in the films did, what strategies they employ, and what qualities they display.

In the course’s first three online pilots in April and May, there were participants from Europe, north America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

One participant was a Sudanese in a refugee camp in northern Uganda who tried to take part in all three courses as he struggled with internet access and the capacity of his mobile phone battery. Finally he succeeded by watching the films before the sessions and then taking part in the discussion. He didn’t have electricity where he was, so we could only see the outlines of his face thanks to the light from his phone!

A young Egyptian, facing the challenge of reconciling Muslims and Christians in her country commented, ‘‘I have always believed that one person can make a difference and change the world, and this course proved it by showing examples of people who have already done so.’

After the course, alumni are offered the possibility of encounters with ‘live’ peacemakers again via zoom. The first two have been with Assaad Chaftari, former militia commander and founder of the ‘Fighters for Peace’ organisation in Lebanon, and John Bond on his experiences as Secretary of the Sorry Day movement in Australia, which led to an apology by the government to Aboriginal Australians.

There will be two more opportunities to take part in the QSP-online course in June, Monday to Friday evenings, 1st-5th and 15th-19th. The course is free, with donations to IofC invited. All welcome!

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