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*Illustration by Manon Michelle Monhemius

A new year, four new trustbuilding teams

Thursday, 14. January 2021

Welcome to our four new trustbuilding teams

The Trustbuilding Program started in September 2019 with three teams in Canada, France, and Kenya. They adapted their projects in the face of the pandemic, and officially celebrated delivering their first-year implementation plan at the end of December 2020. It is now time for four more trustbuilding teams to join the program. Welcome Australia, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa!

As issues related to trust and conflict are location specific, each team has adapted the core principles of the Program to their local context. Below are the main focus areas of the participating teams.

 

Australia

Project Aim: build trust between non-Indigenous Australians and First Nations Peoples.

There has been some level of denial about Australia’s history amongst non-Indigenous Australians since Captain James Cook claimed the continent for Britain in 1770, despite First Nations Peoples’ 60,000-year legacy of inhabiting the land. This has not been corrected in the Constitution, even though some small reparations have been undertaken. At a meeting convened by Prime Minister Tony Abbott to consider changes to the Constitution, in June 2015, 40 First Nations leaders demanded that they be given opportunity to provide input before any proposed compromise amendments were put to a vote. As a result, 13 regional consultations were held under First Nations leadership, culminating in the ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, issued in 2017. 

First Nations leaders put forward the Uluru Statement to the people of Australia, not just the government, inviting them ‘to walk with us in a movement’ towards ‘fair and truthful relationships. The trustbuilding project team is doing just that, working on creating fair and truthful relationships through national education forums, local ‘truth-telling and truth-hearing’ initiatives, events, workshops, memorialisation and accompaniment for people who have been engaged in the truth-telling and truth-hearing process.

 

Indonesia

Project Aim: overcoming differences and building trust among people from different ethnic and religious groups, while promoting collaboration among young people.

Indonesia is facing a wave of intolerance and divides among religions, ethnicities, and social economies. Amongst these waves, there is violent extremism that threatens young men and women. 

The team has different objectives, such as training young people to be trustbuilders, and organizing trustbuilding camps throughout the country. The main focus at first will be on the areas where IofC Indonesia has previously delivered trustbuilding activities, in Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Jayapura and Makasar. Interested participants of these camps will be invited to join future training to become trustbuilders, so that they can be part of the up-scaling of trustbuilding work. The team has mostly worked with Christian and Muslims in the past, and will actively involve people of different faiths.

 

Nepal

Project Aim: bridge the gaps that exist between Madheshi and Pahade communities, which have existed for decades.

The southern low-lying land of Nepal bordering with India is called Terai or Madhesh, which differs geographically from other areas of Nepal that have hills and mountains.  The difference in climate and resources has led to Madhesh developing a distinct culture, and accounts for 20 out of 77 districts in Nepal. Back when Nepal was not a unified country, before 1743 when unification officially began, people residing in Madhesh, known as Madhesis, fought against the warriors of Hilly/Pahad communities, known as Gurkhas, for the British. It is believed that the British handed over the Madhesis and their territories to the Gurkhas in 1816.

100 years after the handover of the territory, several movements started in the region, demanding for liberation and for the forming of an autonomous state, and for Madhesh representation and recognition within the country. The movement accelerated from 2006 onwards when Madhesi people were attacked violently during a peaceful protest against the interim institution for failing to address their concerns. These conflicts have led to a visceral mistrust between people of the different communities. The trustbuilding project team is looking to restore this trust through roundtable discussions, outreach activities, workshops, dialogue with media stakeholders and residential trustbuilding training for youth.

 

South Africa

Project Aim: create clusters of united families in Cape Town and Johannesburg that act as catalysts for rebuilding trust and broken structures in society.

The history of broken families stems from the apartheid era (pre-1994) and the migrant labour system that separated men from their families. This began in the early part of the 20th century and became institutionalized in the mining industry in particular, which was SA’s largest industry outside of agriculture by the middle of the 20th century. This culture of dysfunctionality has been aggravated by the absence of several generations of fathers in many families, especially in the black and coloured ethnic groups, leaving no role models for young boys and girls, leading to inter-generational conflict.

The current reality is generational transfer of present and past unhealed traumas, lack of parenting skills, broken families and a search for identity and belonging among young people, in particular. The project team will specifically focus on inner healing, justice, and trustbuilding between parent/guardian and child, as a foundation for a more just and healthy society through the delivery of dialogues, family workshops, mentoring, training of local facilitators and group therapeutic activities.
 

*Illustration by Manon Michelle Monhemius

 

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The Trustbuilding Program is aimed at addressing divisive issues at the international and national levels, on the premise that only those who have undergone the internal process of becoming trustworthy themselves can close gaps across the globe. The Program was launched by Initiatives of Change International in 2019 with projects in Kenya, Canada and France, and in 2021 Australia, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa have joined as well.