Learning, Growing and Nurturing: MPI’s Grassroots Peacebuilding Mentors Training Program

Learning, Growing and Nurturing: MPI’s Grassroots Peacebuilding Mentors Training Program

“Knowledge needs to be shared”

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI) began a new and innovative Grassroots Peacebuilding Mentors Training Program with a workshop that on the first day emphasized the need for knowledge to be shared. Participants recognized that when sharing their skills and what they are good at, that knowledge is multiplied. Mentoring, while usually voluntary and unpaid, can bring about mutual learning experiences, as we support one another.

Ashok processing a floor diagram

M Manage the Relationship 
E Encourage 
N Nurture
T Teach 
O Offer Mutual Respect
R Respond to the Learners Need

MPI, along with the workshop’s co-facilitators, Gladston “Ashok” and Florina Xavier, developed and designed the program with the objective that grassroots peacebuilders who are working in the field would be able to enhance their mentoring ability. This will, in turn, strengthen the peacebuilding skills of their co-workers in their organizations and partners in the communities where they work.

Ashok and Florina, who are from Chennai, India, were the main facilitators for the Grassroots Peacebuilding Mentors Workshop, which ran from May 28 to June 1, 2018. The two have been working with MPI since 2016, facilitating the Dealing with Trauma in Times of Conflict course.

“The dynamic couple facilitators, Ashok and Florina Xavier, geared the 10 Grassroots Mentors into an introspection of their knowledge, skills and attitude…”

Participants explaining their activityFlorina and Ashok are very experienced in peacebuilding in different countries and conflict settings. Both have a practical as well as theoretical background in mentoring and peacebuilding. During this workshop, they complemented each other in their process-oriented approach, were highly committed and very appreciative, and brought the best out of everyone.

Another experienced and enthusiastic facilitator, Dolores Corro from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Davao, brought the Mindanao perspective and the importance of self-care from an organizational point of view and gave additional spice and color to the workshop.

“In mentoring, you do not have all the answers but you get all the support.”

Participants working on an activityThe 10 pioneers who attended the workshop came from different organizations and regions/conflict zones in Mindanao. They are very experienced, highly committed peacebuilding practitioners. They are senior professionals in their respective organizations and at the same time very close to their communities. In designing the workshop format, the facilitators took into account this high level of experience and professionalism. An “elicitive” learning process was used, building on the needs and experiences of the participants.

Using all kinds of physical and creative games and team building activities combined with experience sharing, storytelling and short theoretical inputs, everyone kept his/her high level of energy and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm to engage with each other went beyond the official workshop schedules, including movie watching, cultural nights, an evening at the pool (which ended up as a night in the sea) and early morning yoga sessions.

“SCULPTING: It is important that both mentees and mentors can mold each other.”

Outside activityThere were sessions on inspirational leadership, context analysis, nonviolent communication, adult and peer learning, gender sensitivity, all of which were connected and related to mentoring. Participants explored the meaning of mentoring: What does it mean to become and be a mentor? How do I choose my mentee(s)? How do I create a meaningful relationship with my mentee(s)? What can I do if problems arise between me and my mentee? All this exploration happened in a light and easily digestible way.

From the beginning of the course, the facilitators were able to create an atmosphere of trust and confidence that made it easy for the participants to willingly and openly share their rich and diverse experiences in working as grassroots peacebuilders in the field. As mentoring in peacebuilding is still a very new concept, the highly interactive pilot workshop co-produced knowledge that will be useful for the ongoing mentoring program of MPI.

“Don't stop learning about and knowing your buddy, your mentee. Dig more.”

Participants creating a tower of paperAll the participants and the facilitation team found it to be a very rich, meaningful experience that met everyone’s expectations. It provided a firm foundation for what will be a three-year program and a model for the workshops in Year 2 and Year 3, presenting the building blocks for a program that can be further developed and expanded.

The Grassroots Peacebuilding Mentors Training Program is a tripartite relationship among MPI, the participant and the organization from which the participant comes. A Memorandum of Understanding is signed by the participant, the participating organization, and MPI. Both organizations are expected to assess the extent to which the participant has developed and utilized his/her skills. The project comprises training as well as guidance and accompaniment and is planned for a period of three years.

The 10 pioneers in the first year are from Mindanao, Philippines. In the second year, there will be 10 grassroots peacebuilders from the Philippines and five from the Asia-Pacific Region, and in the third year, there will be 20 peacebuilders, 10 from Asia-Pacific and 10 from the Philippines, all coming for training and accompaniment.

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