Alternatives to Violence Facilitation and Training

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Building Peace for Sustainable Development


Background and Relevance


South Africa has now had 14 years of democracy and can be very proud of its constitutional structures which support justice, peace and freedom. Remarkable strides have been made towards human rights, political equality, removing and redressing injustices of the past, the role women are playing in public life, macroeconomic growth and its significant strategic influence in Southern Africa, Africa and indeed the rest of the world.


Yet there are considerable and growing problems which challenge both the fiber and the sustainability of this democracy. These are:

l  An entrenched culture of violence and lack of respect for human rights, which causes South Africa to be ranked as one of the most violent societies in the world

l  Violence that manifests itself in the large-scale abuse of women, children and non South Africans

l  A continuing erosion of family structures and moral values.

l  The continuing HIV and AIDS pandemic combined with a high level of teenage pregnancies.

l  The legacy of apartheid reflecting deep poverty and inequality still in existence. 20 million people still live below the poverty line and 40% remain unemployed despite the positive economic growth.

l  Environmental degradation and disrespect for our interconnectedness with all of life.

l  Corruption and a lack of true (servant) leadership in the country.

l  A fragile grassroots and civil society capacity that is easily destabilized by interpersonal and inter-community conflict, and which hampers groups and organisations from accessing their civil and economic rights and fulfilling their missions.

l  Church structures which have immense grassroots support, but struggle with the scale of need and require support in implementing their Social Development programmes so as to provide constructive relevant, hopeful leadership to a disillusioned population.

l  An education system which, at a basic level, is failing to provide functional skills to many or to deal constructively with issues of educator and learner de-motivation, ill-discipline, substance abuse and violent conflict.



 What is AVP?

The Programme is active in over 40 countries throughout the world and is able to help build a capacity in society to deal with issues relating to peace, development and stability including:

l  Violent Conflict

l  Disrespect for human rights and dignity

l  Gender Violence

l  Youth Vulnerability and Hopelessness

l  Crime and Recidivism

l  Poverty

It is a programme helping people to learn new skills and attitudes that assist with working towards fulfilling and violence-free lives. It also has a very positive effect on self esteem. Every workshop is different but participants gain insight into such things as the effects and causes of violence, self violence, non violence in practice, discrimination, power, ways of communication, empathy, stereotyping etc Each workshop is conducted by at least two or three trained facilitators and lasts about 16 hours in total. It is an intensive experiential learning experience offered on three levels.


We aim to work with:

l  CBO's, NGO's, women’s groups and grassroots community organisations, particularly in disadvantaged areas

l  Youth, particularly in disadvantaged schools and areas.

l  Universities

l  Prisons

l  Churches at local and regional levels

l  Hospitals and Clinics, especially HIV and AIDS centres


All the groups above can benefit from AVP interventions helping them to work pre-emptively to avoid violence, to resolve conflicts non-violently and to develop an ethos of non violence in their organisations or communities. The skills learned will enable them to plan, facilitate, monitor and evaluate future non-violent workshops in their schools, congregations, communities and projects. We will be able to provide ongoing guidance, training, quality assurance and participation in the wider community of the Alternatives to Violence Project. Change in behavior cannot happen without providing people with access to alternative methods of dealing with conflict.

It is important to note that although the advanced workshops may, depending upon the wishes of the participants, focus on such things as “gender based violence” and “sexual discrimination” or HIV, as a whole the abuse and disempowerment of women will be treated in workshops as an area to be explored by the group as part of a whole matrix of power relationships. This way groups of females and males work together and genuine understanding can emerge naturally from the work of the group without the overt risk of  primary labeling, finger pointing and preconceived ideas.


Workshops offered


  1. The Basic Workshop; an intensive two day learning experience that provides opportunities to explore interpersonal conflict resolution skills through a series of step by step processes. These experiences in small groups and one to one interactions build a sense of community and trust through experiential exercises focusing on:

l  Affirmation - building self-esteem and trust

l  Communication - improving both listening skills and assertive methods of expression

l  Co-operation - developing co-operative attitudes that avoid competitive conflict

l  Community - provides participants with an experience of what a caring community can be like

l  Creative Conflict Resolution - Getting in touch with inner transforming power to resolve violence. Role plays provide an opportunity to explore this power and learn new and creative ways to respond to real conflicts in our lives

AVP workshops seek to assist individuals in personal growth and change. It is not psychotherapy but the sessions can be intense and personal and so each workshop should be restricted to a maximum of 20 participants.


      2. The Advanced Workshop; also an intensive two day learning experience which focuses on the        underlying causes of violence both in ourselves and in the world in which we live. It is designed to           give participants opportunities to rebuild community, review in-depth the concept of Transforming    Power and proceed to set individual and group goals as the focus of the remainder of the workshop.

            Focus topics might be:

l  Fear - Reveals the hidden fears that usually underlie anger, jealousy and prejudice

l  Anger - Results in a deeper understanding of the personal situations that trigger violence

l  Power- (and powerlessness) helps individuals understand power structures.

l  Communication - develops the skills and the ability to communicate in tense and stressful situations

l  Resentment - helps participants to understand the resentment process and its cost

l  Forgiveness - builds the groundwork for true reconciliation and freedom from guilt

l  Stereotyping - builds awareness of stereotyping, bias and prejudice in personal relations

l  Man/Woman Relationships - explores issues of fear, anger, power and powerlessness

l  AIDS - understanding and acceptance for people who are HIV positive

l  Stress - understanding stress and how to deal with it

l  Other - whatever the group finds most compelling at that time.


       3. The Training for Facilitators Workshop: This is also a two day workshop reserved for those who have completed the Basic and Advanced workshops and have been selected for further training. This focuses on developing team building, leadership skills and methods and group process skills. Participants work in small groups actually functioning as facilitators. They receive guidance and practice in facilitating all parts of a Basic workshop whilst at the same time learning about:

l  Team building and contracts

l  Choosing a team leader

l  Agendas

l  Exercises

l  Transforming Power

l  Light and Livelies

l  Role Plays

As a last step in the training learner facilitators apprentice with workshop leadership teams facilitating Basic and Advanced Workshops (NB. usually between 5 and 9 workshops are needed before the trainee is able to conduct workshops without a mentor).


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