When a protracted civil war comes to an end, in many cases, it leaves behind devastation in all aspects: socially, ethnic bigotry, religious intolerance, and community fragmentation are pronounced and social services such as education and health are inadequate and poor in quality; politically, divisions along political lines, ethnicity, and even religious are entrenched; and economically, unemployment is high, cost of living sky-rockets, infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports, and telecommunications are broken. Survivors and perpetrators try to come to terms with the egregious violation of human rights during the fighting as they try to make sense of these in order to chart a new way forward, if they are to live peaceably together as citizens of one nation.
In the light of this, the Center for Peace Education (CPE) decided to place engagement with the community as a priority in order to contribute towards identifying the conditions, including mindset factors for peaceful co-existence. CPEs activities focus on teaching peace education in local schools and communities in Liberia in order to counter the continuous use of violence as a means to an end and demonstrate that it is an anti-social behavior.
So far, our engagement with the community and the educational services we offer aimed at inculcating a culture of peace in Liberia are being recognized and appreciated by religious leaders such as pastors and imams, traditional leaders, and political leaders. These groups have requested CPEs intervention on a number of occasions to settle violent disputes.
Our engagement with the community to help in the settlement of disputes amongst it warring members provides us with the opportunity to educate the general public about the need for peaceful coexistence and harmony and what it takes to realize it. Over the years, CPE has been successful in helping communities understand the causes of conflict, such as inequality, injustices, and the asymmetrical power relations amongst members of the community and why removal of these are key to peaceful co-existence.
In addition we have also trained members in knowledge and skills of detecting and defusing tension and conflict and how to settle disputes once they erupt and together have contributed to fostering community cohesiveness and collaboration among local rivals as they laid aside their differences and work together for the common good of their war ravage communities.