Over the summer, our Invisible Children team in Central African Republic (CAR) hosted a week-long workshop with members of Community Peace Committees established by Invisible Children. These volunteer peacebuilders came together from some of the most isolated and insecure areas of northeastern CAR, where we have also recently expanded our Early Warning Network.
While a week-long workshop might sound like a recipe for boredom, it was just the opposite. This gathering was the first time that community representatives from these areas of northeastern CAR have ever come together in one place to discuss issues of insecurity they face on a daily basis. Not only that, but members of international organizations, including the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, also participated and were able to hear directly from local leaders about what their communities need and want to support their protection from violence.
Before becoming part of the Early Warning Network, most of these communities were completely cut off from the outside world and had no mechanisms for communication to call for help when faced with deadly threats. Today, they are not only able share lifesaving information with each other and the international community through the Early Warning Radio, we have also helped them form local Peace Committees as a mechanism that each community can use to develop solutions to their specific challenges and threats. Additionally, Peace Committee members are able to participate in collaborative gatherings like this one, where they can discuss the challenges that they have in common and share ideas for better solutions.
After the meeting wrapped up, participants headed home equipped with valuable tools, new relationships with fellow peacebuilders, and an invigorating sense of connectedness that will all help them make their communities safer. From technical training on their Early Warning Radio, to workshops on conflict mediation techniques, the tools shared at this meeting are already helping community leaders plan for a more hopeful future, and perhaps more importantly, to believe that one is possible.
The mayor of one town in CAR, who was present at this meeting told our team, “Our dream has become a reality. We were not sure of what the Peace Committee could do for our community, but today we are convinced that all we are doing is important…and we have seen some examples that will give us more momentum. We’re grateful to Invisible Children for this forum.”
This gathering of local visionaries and peacebuilders, and more like it, wouldn’t be possible without the incredible individuals who have committed to support Invisible Children’s programs on a monthly basis. Consider donating to Invisible Children’s today, and enable us to support the safety and resilience of even more communities across central Africa.