Many of the communities that we work with in eastern Central African Republic (CAR), northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan face the daily threat of violent conflict and exploitation. Isolated and without basic protection, they are targeted by a number of armed groups who recognize and seek to exploit their vulnerability. The violence they face and the ripple effects of insecurity are often devastating to these communities that are already struggling to survive.
But, despite it all, these communities, and the individuals that make them up are remarkably resilient. Our Invisible Children team is constantly struck by the strength and bravery of local leaders and our local partners, who are working to create a safer, more peaceful future for their children and their community. Their resilience — their grit and determination to create a brighter future — is critical to ending the violent conflict and exploitation their communities face.
That is why we work alongside these heroic local organizations and leaders to help equip them with tools and information to help strengthen their resilience and allow them to safely and effectively respond to threats, resolve conflict, and prevent violence in their communities. All of our programs exist to help resilient communities break free from cycles of violence by providing support to enhance their unique strengths and local wisdom.
By helping to establish local Peace Committees, we bring together key representatives of all parts of the community — including religious leaders, women, youth, ethnic minorities, and other marginalized groups. Aside from ensuring that the needs of the whole community are represented, this helps to unify the communities around the common goal of peace and safety.
Once peace committees are established, our team and partners facilitate workshops with committee members, providing training on conflict management, income-generating activities, trauma-healing, and community protection, all of which help ensure that communities are able to more effectively respond to and recover from crises and threats to their safety.
To support those struggling to recover from violent conflict, we worked with local partners and international experts to develop a trauma healing toolkit which includes efforts in counseling, educational campaigns, and group meetings focused on traditional rituals that provide space for communities to address conflict and trauma together. The toolkit incorporates clinical expertise from Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) professionals into traditional practices, such as community mourning, so that violence-affected communities are able to access the support they need through familiar mechanisms.
We provide the this trauma healing toolkit to communities through local Peace Committee trainings and have also adapted it to be provided through FM radio programming, so that it reaches even some of the most remote and marginalized communities in central Africa, including nomadic herding groups. With the toolkit, communities are more able to recognize and respond to signs of trauma, helping strengthen their resilience as they work to break free from cycles of violent conflict.