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Smile for Peace

The contribution of YOLRED to former child combatants, single mothers, children and the disenfranchised is to serve and build peace .

Photo of Geoffrey Omony

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The Foundation for the Reconciliation dedicates all of its efforts to promoting the theory and practice of Forgiveness and Reconciliation as fundamental for the transformation of the conflicts and violent practices of individuals and communities. Thus, it seeks to contribute to building a culture of sustainable peaceful coexistence.

The violence in its different manifestations has sowed and continues sowing anger, resentment and desires for revenge that should be understood and dealt with by different enlightened individuals who envision worlds of “PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE” (living together cooperatively), solidarity, and justice and peace- worlds in which daily life is less painful.

The Schools of Forgiveness and reconciliation (ESPERE, acronyms for Escuelas del Perdon y Reconciliacion) are a proposal for a form of community work in which facilitators guide participants in the transformation of their anger, hatred, resentment and desire for vengeance – provoked by aggressions against them – into a way out of the troubled present. In place of repertoires of solutionless pain, trauma, participants are taught to overcome these affective challenges in a safe and guided setting.

Explain your idea

The Schools of Forgiveness and reconciliation (ESPERE, acronyms for Escuelas del Perdon y Reconciliacion) are a proposal for a form of community work in which facilitators guide participants in the transformation of their anger, hatred, resentment and desire for vengeance – provoked by aggressions against them – into a way out of the troubled present. In place of repertoires of solutionless pain, trauma, participants are taught to overcome these affective challenges in a safe and guided setting.

Who Benefits?

For nearly three decades starting in the late 1980’s, over 60,000 girls and boys in Northern Uganda were forcibly conscripted into fighting a guerilla war against their government, under the brutal domination of the Lord’s Resistance Army. In war that displaced 1.5 million people mainly of the Acholi ethnic group from larger communities such as Gulu and Kitgum, as well as the areas surrounding them, children bore an overwhelming weight not only as combatants, porters, cooks, and for girls it included sexual service, but also in carrying a stigma which has typically left them marginalized and overlooked as young adults today. Not unlike child soldiers in other countries who are undergoing the formal DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration) process, many Ugandan, former child soldiers end up with no short or long term support upon re-entering civilian society. The region still faces post-conflict threats to the safety, security and well-being of children and families.

How is your idea unique?

By going deeply into areas of knowledge such as philosophy, anthropology, theology sociology and just plain common sense, we can see the reasons for forgiveness and reconciliation. The foundation for reconciliation has set two main criteria for its work: one on humanitarian, and the other politico cultural. The main objective of the foundation’s processes, from a humanitarian perspective, is to give victims of any offense a chance to share their story with other people. This is done within the eleven model framework. Sharing enables participants to construe the values and meanings of the fundamentally unpleasant and painful event. The politico cultural perspective defines ESPERE as a community space in which the offense can be deconstructed. We define “offense” in terms of ethics and rights: it is a break in social cohesion. As such, the consequent processes are an exercise in building a political culture and integration of this perspectives into cognitive and effective experiences.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

My name is Omony Geoffrey and I am the program director and coordinator for YOLRED. In this capacity, I am applying for the opportunity to work with IDEO on behalf of YOLRED. In 1995, I was abducted from a village now called Onyomtil in the Anaka sub-county Nwoya district. For one year, I remained in captivity but managed to escape in May, 1996 and was taken to the Gulu Support the Children Organization (GUSCO) Centre, for psychosocial support and rehabilitation. After leaving there, I was reintegrated back into my home community, but coping with everyday life after my experiences was incredibly difficult, especially without a formal education or the change to own my own land. Still, I was among the lucky few among former child combatants, as I was able to attend school with the Belgium support under the programme ”Sponsoring Children Uganda.” My studies were unfortunately interrupted, but I went on to form a youth group with my peers called ”Lurem for Progress Youth Association,” which gave us the space to share our concerns and personal struggles. This gathering led myself, and my YOLRED team member Charles, to the Goldin Institute from an introduction from Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), Interreligious Council of Uganda, and the African Council for Peace. I was trained in ”ESPERE” methodology, which my perspectives in ways I never expected. It allowed me to connect and grow my empathetic feelings toward other child victims of the conflict. Arigatou Intrnational and GNRC then took me back to school where I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration and Human Resources Management.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

12 comments

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Photo of Kate Rushton
Team

Hi Geoffrey,

It is great to see all the work on your project proposal. I never received your user experience map. Did it go missing? Also, did you see the additional questions for this challenge (just log into your account and press the 'Edit Contribution' button at the top of your post and you should see them there)?

Also, as it is towards the end of the challenge, are there any specific types of organisations in terms of geography and location that you would like to connect with for this project or in general?

If you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to contact me.

Photo of Geoffrey Omony
Team

Hello Kate
Thank you very much for this reminder. I had not seen the additional question but I will get there and see it. Also, I had not included the user experience map and I will just include today.
Yes Kate, there are quite a number of organizations which I would like to connect with them. For Instance Concern Caritas Counseling and Training Institute, Concern Parents Association and Bed ki Gen.

And in case of any questions, I will not hesitate to reach out to you. And again thank you very much for the unreserved efforts in helping the community in need.
Peace,
Geoffrey

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