Gambia: Caritas Conducts 10 Day Capacity Enhancement On Interpersonal Relationships

Caritas the development agency of the Catholic Church conducted a 10-day capacity enhancement and interactive engagements for 100 participants on interpersonal relationships.

The trainees were drawn from multi-party groups, media, religious groups and Civil Society Organizations at GPI and in the regions.

The training was aimed at providing tools and skills for political, religious, security, media, youth and civil society representatives to renew interpersonal and intergroup relationships. It offers participants a way to view human relationships differently, finding the best in others and forging new partnerships. These partnerships built on the right relationships, is the foundation of all development.

The newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 16 highlights the promotion of just, peaceful, and inclusive societies. The inclusion of all segments of society is premised on "Leaving no one behind" which is an underlying principle of the SDGs.

The findings of a Conflict and Development Analysis of the country, jointly conducted by the Government of The Gambia, UNDP and Civil Society in 2018, and updated in 2019, point to conflict drivers that hold the existing potential, if unaddressed, to push the country towards conflict, instability and underdevelopment. Political tensions; conflicts over land and natural resources; identity and citizenship concerns; tensions around returning migrants and deportations; and religious-related tensions are some of the conflict drivers identified in the report. The Catholic Diocese of Banjul through Caritas with support from Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is investing in strengthening capacities for peace through peace building and social cohesion training in order to contribute to help address these and other conflict drivers.

The 3Bs/ 4Ds (Binding, Bonding and Bridging \ Discover, Dream, Design and Delivery) methodology offer a new paradigm of collaboration; a new culture of collaborative problem solving in which government, opposition, civil society particularly young people and women, the private sector and all sectors perceive one another as partners rather than as rivals; a culture in which expression of opinions is constructive and in the interest of the national good; and a culture in which the government encourages and creates spaces for dialogue and constructive feedback.

Francis Dominic Mendy the National Director of Caritas explained that the 3Bs/4Ds Social Cohesion Approach is a combination of the Appreciative Enquiry.

"The 3Bs are Binding this reconstructs the person through self-healing, self-transformation. The other B is Bonding this strengthens relations within identity groups through intragroup transformation processes and the final B is Bridging this develops trust between two or more identity groups," he said.

He said at the personal level to contribute to social cohesion one has to go through the 4Ds. This process helps one to respond to the needs one has. The Appreciative Enquiry holds that Human relationships prosper where there is a positive view of the other person.

"It enables different identity groups to Discover: unearth the gold that nurtures social cohesion, Dream: Envision a shared or desired harmonious future, Design: reflect on Co conceived, and innovative inclusive projects and Deliver: Transform your world by engaging in joint actions," he said.

Gomez said Caritas continues to advocate for and recognize the importance of local community engagement and the contribution of faith actors in peace building efforts; to establish practical entry-points for grassroots and civil society actors, including women and youth, so they can participate meaningfully in peace initiatives; and to scale-up locally-led funding, programming, and partnership opportunities.

"Human beings don't lack imagination to create conflict but conflicts are Natural, Normal and Neutral only that they can be manipulated and escalate into violence which is undesirable. Force is the worst investment for future generations. It suppresses and does not transform/ resolve the conflict, and that is why all Gambians must learn to address conflicts constructively," he said.

The National Director of Caritas said the training facilitates the journey from the head to the heart helping participants to understand the nexus between political and religious tolerance, community cohesion and development and be able to communicate the same to their constituents and members.

He said the intervention will also contribute to strengthening traditional structures and the Justice and Peace Commission and enable more Gambians to benefit from the rolling out of the 3Bs/ 4Ds methodology for peace building in the country.

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