The projects in Canada, Kenya, and France are all focused on building trust in their local communities, but the barriers to building that trust vary depending on the location. As a result, the projects are different in some respects, yet they are united under the shared theme of the Trustbuilding Program; that trust begins from within. So, with differing approaches and barriers to their work, what are the benefits for the local project teams by being a part of the Trustbuilding Program?
The project in Canada aims to create safe spaces for honest conversations between different groups who are willing to face the issues dividing Quebec society. They are working to provide concrete tools and methodologies to address ignorance, as well as build joint action through mutual understanding of historical events, socio-political realities, and experiences underlying the current society.
The core impacts the project will make is improving social cohesion, reducing discrimination and enhancing trust between various divided communities in Quebec. Through two training sessions, 20-25 people will increase their skills and knowledge in trustbuilding which will enable them to be better equipped to have a meaningful transformative impact on their communities and in Quebec society. Of those people, 5/ 6 will become trainees in order to train others in trustbuilding. By having more skilled people, there will be an increased presence of trustbuilding resources in various communities dealing with issues causing division.
- The Trustbuilding Program has helped Initiative of Change Canada come together with a specific focus, meaningful activities and the team are quickly becoming known in Quebec as an organisation able to bring together a diverse group of people. There is a team operating out of the office in Montreal with a concrete ‘offer and service’ to the local community. Because of the financial support the Trustbuilding Program offers the local teams, the Canadian team in Quebec was able to hire payed staff. One of the conditions of the Trustbuilding Program is that the teams raise local funds as well. By being part of the Program, it has allowed the team to do so whilst being supported by the Fundraising Officer from Initiatives of Change.
- The Trustbuilding Program project team is working in the French speaking part of the country. By being part of the Program, it has allowed the team to invest in live translations services during the events they organize, as well as translating important documents and articles.
- For the training manuals the team creates for their workshops, they receive support from experienced trainers from within the Initiatives of Change network. Like Rob Corcoran, who went to visit the team to help them translate the available manual he created to the local Quebec context.
The project in Kenya is working on addressing fear and challenges among communities and people of different faiths. They are using dialogue to build trust and promote unity in diversity and foster peaceful coexistence. The team in Kenya is working on preventing violent extremism by building social cohesion, in supporting the building of trust between Muslims and Christians in Mombasa and Garissa.
Through outreaches in both Mombasa and Garissa, up to 400 youth will be involved in trustbuilding exercises and dialogues. This raises awareness of interfaith issues and deepening relations between communities of different faiths. There will be targeted people, 6 from Mombasa and 6 from Garissa, with the capacity and skills to train others in trustbuilding. This way the capacity of people doing trustbuilding work can increase.
- The internal impact for the Kenyan team is significant because they are undergoing a major transition in the way they are operating. Before the Trustbuilding Program, the team was less structured and consisted of volunteers. Now there is trained and payed staff, who have clear roles and responsibilities. This new way of working is important in order to achieve an increased awareness and outreach for Initiatives of Change Kenya.
- By being part of the Trustbuilding Program not only the project team is reaching another level of professionalism, this also transmits to Initiative Kenya as a whole national organization. Through national gatherings, learned skills and learnings are shared with the entire national network.
- Evaluation is an important part of the Trustbuilding Program. This is something new for all the teams, and so as well for Kenya. They are receiving tools and support on measuring the impact they will make with their outreaches and trainings. How effective is the team in the work they are doing? Which is important learning to take into the second year of the project? The Evaluations Manager works closely with the Kenyan team to set this up. There will be an interview with Evaluations Manager Roxann Allen Kioko online soon.
The OUI ACT project in France is working to build trust between young people and French society. Specifically, the project focuses on the divides between young people and police, local authorities and teachers. By working in partnerships with schools in marginalized communities, the project addresses social and cultural divides and reduces the temptation to break links with society and drift towards radicalism.
There are important factors that play a role in preventing violent extremism and building social cohesion by building greater trust between youth and society. Through a series of classes, the team works with youth to make sure that they feel respected and taken seriously. A mind shift is needed so that the youth will look at society with the perspective of working at transforming it, rather than being a victim/excluded from it. One of the key elements of OUI ACT is the citizen project that students work on, which is a project they create for their local communities regarding an issue they care about.
- The Trustbuilding Program has given the French team the chance to develop, enhance and further operate their project, OUI ACT, which was piloted last year. Without the Trustbuilding Program, the learnings from OUI ACT would not have the chance to be realized and integrated. The financial support makes a significant difference, especially in combination with the offered fundraising support.
- One of the difficulties that the French team faces is getting into new schools. In the case that the teams get a foot in the school door, there is been resistance from teachers to give up an hour of their weekly curriculum in order to make time for the OUI ACT workshops. By being part of an international program and having the support of stronger endorsements in place, the Trustbuilding Program supports the French team in reducing the level of difficulty.
- The learnings from the pilot year of OUI ACT are now being implemented, and with the help of Evaluations Manager Roxann, there is a structure being set up to evaluate the impact of the workshops in the schools. This is also very important for building credibility towards schools.
Interested to become part of the Trustbuilding Program? If you are (part of) a national team and possibly interested in joining the Trustbuilding Program, keep your eye on the news pages to be the first to know when we open our registrations!
Curious to read more about the work the local teams are doing? Here you can read more about the different teams and the latest news from their projects and sign up for our monthly Trustbuilding Program update.
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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.