Pioneering Global Learning Event Brings 80 Peace Leaders to Sierra Leone
to Collaborate in “Building Peace from the Inside Out”
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone – More than 80 people from around the world are gathering in the capital next week for “Constellating Peace from the Inside Out,” a week-long immersion learning event exploring the lessons of an innovative partnership for peacebuilding and development. The event is being hosted by the Government of Sierra Leone and by Fambul Tok, a national peacebuilding organization, and Catalyst for Peace, an American operating foundation, which are sharing learnings gained from their long-term partnership.
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jallo on Monday will welcome event guests, who include community and government leaders in peacebuilding and development from Kenya, Somalia, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, and Zimbabwe, as well as representatives of donor organizations from the United States and Europe. The Vice President was joined by Anthony Brewah, the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, and by Nabila Tunis, the Minister of Planning and Economic Development.
“Sierra Leone has a lot to share with the world. Despite a brutal civil war, and despite Ebola, we as a nation have something that those events did not take away from us — the power of coming together,” said John Caulker, the co-founder and executive director of Fambul Tok International. “What Fambul Tok has done is demonstrate this power, the power people have to define their needs, set their priorities, and work toward development with the resources and talents they already have. This is something the world can learn from.”
“Constellating Peace” will share lessons from a 12-year partnership between Fambul Tok and Catalyst for Peace, with deep attention to the last two years of the partnership, which were joined in leadership and action by the Government of Sierra Leone. From post-war reconciliation to Ebola prevention and response to economic development, the partnership has facilitated communities to articulate their needs and to identify the resources — the skills, the knowledge, the creativity, the collaboration, the financial support — already present in the community.
This approach, called “peacebuilding from the inside out,” took form in the People’s Planning Process, piloted in Kailahun, Koinadugu and Moyamba districts, where chiefdoms created and have begun to implement their own development agendas. Inclusive District Peace and Development Committees were established to strengthen district leadership in implementing these People’s Plans. The success of the pilots led the Government of Sierra Leone to scale up the process nationally, with the Wan Fambul National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment to build a national policy framework from the ground up, so that people’s voices are truly leading — not just in name, but in practice,” said Libby Hoffman, president of Catalyst for Peace. “Sierra Leone’s lived experience is a model for the world, something people want to learn about. What has happened here is an important part of a global conversation.”
“The cracks from violence, marginalization and a lack of security in many countries today are profound, and the intersection between community ownership and participation, and national policy development is rarely achieved in ‘post’-conflict environments,” said Angi Yoder-Maina, the executive director of the Green String Network, a Kenyan peacebuilding and social healing organization. “There is much for global government and civil society leaders to learn from the Catalyst for Peace and Fambul Tok model of partnership.”
“Constellating Peace from the Inside Out” will feature leaders from Fambul Tok villages and districts reflecting on what made it possible for this unique process to succeed, and highlighting some of their own successes. Event guests will also visit villages in three districts to witness first-hand the energy and creativity that a community-centered process can unleash.
Event guests will also share models from their own contexts, including the Citizens’ Charter process in Afghanistan and the Kumekucha approach to community healing in Kenya.
“Working from the inside out is not only about acknowledging local leadership and expertise. It’s about coming in as a learner yourself, actively creating space for local leadership to emerge, and inviting people into the leadership capacity they may not recognize yet in themselves. That’s time-intensive work that requires bringing your whole self to the table and sometimes, in the spirit of fambul tok, some challenging conversations,” said Hoffman. “But once you’ve made that invitation to others and to yourself, new, healthy ways of working in truly mutual partnership can emerge, and new capacities are unleashed. By the end of our time together, we hope Constellating Peace will inspire even more capacity for this work – from the inside out, and around the world.”
Fambul Tok International is a Sierra Leonean non-profit organization that helps communities identify their greatest needs and challenges and the resources they have in their communities to solve them. Fambul Tok accompanies communities in their work toward stability, development, and progress by facilitating local leadership, by opening multi-level channels of communication between community members and government at local, regional, and national levels, and by creating space for inclusive dialogue. For more information, visit www.fambultok.org.
Catalyst for Peace is an American operating foundation that catalyzes authentic cooperation between leaders at all levels and their outside partners where the unique experience, wisdom, and resources of each are valued and utilized to co-create healthy communities and a more peaceful world. CfP builds and advocates for long-term structures and systems to address difficult, real-world problems, while also developing the local resources required to sustain healthy systems. For more information, visit www.catalystforpeace.org.
For More Information Or To Schedule Interviews:
In Sierra Leone, Abdul Rashid, Fambul Tok Communications Officer, arashid [at] fambultok.org
In New York, Jina Moore, Catalyst for Peace strategic communications consultant, jina [at] catalystforpeace.org