Report on the ‘Initiators of Peace’ session for men facilitated by Patrick Santa Maria, Haridas and Robert Chen
Following the two days Tools for Change training session in Timor Leste, the participants attended two separate programmes - Creators of Peace for 13 women and Initiators of Peace for 11 men. Here is a report of Initiators of Peace:
Patrick Santa Maria
Dr Robert Chen, Haridas and Patrick Santa Maria took on the challenging task of conducting the Creators of Peace session for men. This was one of the first times that such a programme was conducted for men! In total nine brave young Timorese men accepted the challenge and came for day one. Two more joined us for day two raising the total to 11.
The entire two days workshop was interspersed with activities such as singing, dance movements and videos in order to involve their participation and also to take ownership of the two day workshop.
Each of them had a story waiting to be shared, waiting to be heard. In the spirit of confidentiality, each of us was reminded that whatever we shared would be kept confidential.
As each of us shared our story of pain, struggles, ups and downs, we also celebrated the many blessings and positive experiences that had also catapulted into our being because of these experiences. The sharing of our own ‘history’ (his story) had an impact on both the sharer and the listener, as we were able to go deeper within ourselves and experience some form of inner transformation and freedom.
As the trust level increased within the group, each participant was able to share unhindered and in total honesty without being judged or interrupted. A few of the men also cried as they heard from their friends. It was as though their own story was being repeated by another person and they could empathise with whatever was being shared by shedding tears of understanding and bonding. At the end of the allocated time of sharing, every person who shared their story was acknowledged by a touching gesture, a hug, a smile to indicate that they appreciated what they shared.
Patrick Santa Maria sharing his story
After each sharing session, participants were encouraged to write down their thoughts and feelings on the activity they had just experienced. It is our hope as facilitators that as they create the habit of writing down their thoughts and experiences, this habit will then sooner become second nature to them.
From the sharing sessions we realised that there was a need to forgive, to be forgiven especially amongst family members, parents and even to fellow countrymen and women. In general, participants wanted to take responsibility for their past actions and put right areas in their lives where there was a need for restitution. This was a very important step towards starting the process of reconciliation with themselves and with others.
These were simple yet practical steps they chose to take through a time of quiet reflection and listening to their inner convictions.
We as facilitators were thus humbled by their courage and humility in wanting to make a change in their lives, in wanting to make a difference in other people’s lives as a result of their own initiative to change. There is hope for Timor Leste.