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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Leonésia Tecla da Silva giving talk at podium

Young Mediator from Timor-Leste

I feel very sad when reflecting on the past when women fought for independence. They were involved on the front lines with weapons and with their expertise in carrying food and medicine. They provided ideas during the negotiation and reconciliation process. They were part of civilian teams at base camps and in the clandestine front.

During and after the armed conflict (1974 - 1999), many women and girls experienced their own forms of suffering and violence, including starvation, imprisonment, rape, and sexual slavery.  Yet, their roles in conflicts are not highlighted, and their long involvement in mediation and peace processes is barely discussed in the literature.

Women have the capacity to feel the needs of those in the communities who trust women to lead the mediation and dialogue processes. I want to underline that East Timorese women participated fully in both the peace process and the negotiations. Their expertise in the conflict resolution process is durable and recognized and trusted by the conflicting parties. Women have played important roles during the invasion and post-independence.

2008 Fundamentals of Peacebuilding Class Picture

A Small Peace Story During the MOA-AD Crisis (1)

Very few people from the non-government and peacebuilding sector get to engage in peace discourses with soldiers, let alone build good relationships with them thereafter. I would like to think that I was one of the fortunate few. I believe that experience allowed me to share with the soldiers how the narratives of conflict in Mindanao are seen from our eyes, as well as get a glimpse of how soldiers see these same narratives from their eyes.

This experience started when I got the chance to enroll in the Fundamentals of Peacebuilding (FPB) course of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) in the 2008 Annual Peacebuilding Training. At that time, I was attending as a staff of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS), Inc. If memory serves me right, I was one of three or four from CBCS who attended that year.

Participants from online FSToT workshop in native dress

Technology – fear no more during the time of COVID: A reflection on MPI’s online Facilitation Skills Training of Trainers

Cybertechnologies were among the first to deliver to the world the fearful news about what many of us dubbed as “the worst disaster” ever recorded in the history of humankind when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that COVID-19 should be classified as a pandemic at the onset of 2020. For more than one year after the reported outbreak, different technologies delivered news of death tolls and infection statistics and how nations and communities had responded differently, and to some extent, uniquely to the pandemic. Countless times we opened our mobile tech gadgets to go online and find few feature stories on the positive and alternative practices and what leaders learned who successfully reduced or abated the worst effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was in the middle of this pandemic that the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI) attempted to make the most out of these technologies and invited peacebuilders from conflict areas to participate in an online Facilitation Skills Training of Trainers (FSToT) during the first quarter of 2021. The purpose of the FSToT was to better equip local mediators and peacebuilders from across the globe. The course provided the participants with a holistic and complete overview of online training facilitation and how to design it. It included what a peace training is about, what are the SMART objectives, what is it for, who is it for, what is the approach to use, what is in the toolbox, what knowledge and skills are needed, who is the trainer, what are the required resources, and what are the important considerations.

Zoom view of Afgan Alumni Reunion

First MPI Afghan Alumni Reunion On Line!

How can MPI find out if there are alumni interested in engaging with one another and in supporting MPI in building an active peacebuilding network amid a pandemic? How can MPI alumni connect and see the opportunities for joint ventures in support of peacebuilding in their country during lockdowns and social distancing? The COVID-19 pandemic has motivated MPI to reach out to and connect with its alumni in new ways in different corners of the world through virtual communication.  

One such effort was the first MPI Afghan Alumni Meeting held through Zoom on March 9, 2021. MPI alumni Ahmad Rashid Watanpahl and Mohammad Tamim Ebrahimi prepared for the meeting along with Marlies Roth, MPI’s Research, Documentation, and Learning Coordinator. Shortly before the meeting, they both participated in an online Facilitation Skills Training conducted by MPI that helped them in organizing and facilitating the meeting.

FSToT participants trying to stand up

Participatory methods: Let us give it a go and see what magic it offers

Image: FST0T participants trying to stand up during an activity with Uka Pinto in the maroon shirt.

I was one of the participants in the Facilitation Skills Training of Trainers for Peacebuilders workshop in Davao City, Philippines, from November 25 to 29, 2019. The workshop was co-facilitated by Inke Johannsen from Germany and Carino “Rockrock” Antequisa from the Philippines. It was a fascinating five-day learning journey where we learned and practiced how to design and facilitate training. MPI organized this workshop to equip MPI alumni and staff with knowledge and skills in facilitation. These are my reflections on some of the lessons learned from this workshop that I have applied back in my country, Timor-Leste (TL), some feedback from the participants, and the challenges I faced when doing something different.

Through this workshop, I learned new methods that improved my facilitation skills and how to actively engage participants during a training session. At the same time, I was able to deepen my understanding of other facilitation methods that I used previously. During the five days of the training process, I was impressed that the facilitators did not use a single PowerPoint presentation, computers, or projectors. Instead, the facilitators used meta-cards, flipcharts, blu-tack, markers, crayons, and colored pencils. All the sessions were planned carefully in advance and delivered by using various exciting methods. I must admit that it was one of my “aha!” moments. This workshop led me to believe that I can facilitate a training session like this one, too.

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