The Damietta Peace Initiative is a Franciscan, inter-faith driven peace enterprise for the Continent of Africa, built around the core values of nonviolence, reconciliation and respect for creation. It is a pro-active response to a hunger that is widely felt among people today, that the sectarian divisions in our society must yield to the big shared human questions, namely, that we humans are locked inside another story. The evolving universe story. And part of this evolutionary story is that humans must learn to live as friendly beings towards each other and towards nature. It is imperative to look at the big picture and see where non-violence fits into the scheme of things.
The Damietta Peace Initiative focuses on one specific aspect of the big story: It commits itself in a practical way to work for attitudinal change that favours nonviolence, reconciliation and care for creation as a cultural endeavour. It is in the process of forming Pan-African Conciliation Teams throughout Africa who will be trained to monitor tensions and conflict in their local areas and learn to intervene quickly when tensions and conflicts can give rise to violence.
Such an enormous task would seem to be a wild dream of an idealist were it not for extraordinary network of 12,000 franciscans living in towns and villages in 40 countries in Africa. It is by activating these Franciscans, that this ‘Franciscan bridge’ gives the Damietta Peace Initiative entry into different countries and local neighbourhoods and enable the formation of such groups.
The project is supported and endorsed by the world-wide Franciscan family through its leadership at a meeting in Rome in December 2005. Click here to read the endorsement letter.
The Damietta Peace Initiative draws upon national and international expertise and resources, both religious and secular, in seeking to create and maintain a sustainable, long-term strategy for conflict avoidance and/or resolution, reconciliation and care for creation.
Each neighbourhood group that is formed – and they are rapidly growing - is made up of local people of diverse gender, ethnic and religious backgrounds. They are known as Pan-African Conciliation Teams (PACT). Each team receives professional training, through experiential-participative-based courses on nonviolence (e.g. the Quaker-based AVP programme; and with the help of peace educators such as IFOR, Pax Christi, Caritas International etc).
The education courses include learning the skills of mediation, arbitration and conciliation; the theory and practice of social analysis and realistic ways in caring for the creation. Courses are also available to those franciscans who will assist Damietta in contacting local communities.
The Design of the Damietta Peace Initiative