Trustbuilding has always been a core part of Initiatives of Changes' work across the globe - it is essential to conflict resolution, peacebuilding, and ethical leadership. Over the summer, facilitators and leaders within our network gathered for a short-course on Trustbuilding, to revist the foundational skills and concepts that enable trust. One of the participants, and a long-standing advocate for the Creators of Peace programme, shared this reflection with us:
For the Trustbuilding session, we all came together from different countries across Africa, America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, to one location – Caux Palace. What we needed was a bridge for our teambuilding work; a bridge of trust so we can enhance peace in the world. With IofC, building peace starts from within. Defining our concerns and responsibilities gave a sense of inner peace and guidance. Listening to others’ stories brought the ego to a state of humbleness.
When the seeds are sown, and start to have roots, they need a safe environment to grow and produce fruit. Trust and peace are two essential components for healing the inherited wounds and painful pasts that generate suspicion, fear, stereotypes, and loss. I learned from the Trustbuilding session that listening to each other’s stories of their country’s histories, as well as acknowledging their emotions, is important to this process.
As a Syrian, Muslim, and Arab, I find myself in the middle of many international stories though I have never contributed to the events. I carry the labels. I am part of the stereotype and prejudice when I work with people that still live under the shadow of their pain. There are many who see others only through the lens of history.
History and religion weave the same fabric as they shape our identity. Everything is about identity. The wars, past and present, are all about identity. Inner conflict, loss, and fear are about ‘who I am’ and ‘what is my role?’
Like a plant, people need an environment or safe space where they can be recognized for what they are and be allowed to grow. It is also important for individuals to be acknowledged among peers, both which are different and similar, so they can find its place in the global ecosystem.
The Trustbuilding session in Caux Palace was really such a great and meaningful time. I learned a lot from Rob Corcoran and Mathew Freeman and from the sharing of all my fellow trustbuilders. I came back to Syria with the commitment to development within my role with the Trustbuilding Programme, my Creators of Peace circles, and local and international interfaith work.
Iman Al Ghafari - Creators of Peace