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Feb 19, 2013

Conflict mediation in session

A group of professionals are receiving training on conflict mediation organized by Restore Belize along with the US Embassy.  The training will equip the participants to go back to communities and work with vulnerable youths to resolve conflict. Restore Belize believes that this is a way to stop rise in violence. News Five Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A training workshop on conflict mediation is currently being held at the ITVET Building in Belize City.  The sessions, organized by Restore Belize and the U.S. Embassy, aim to provide necessary resources to those who work with at risk youths.  Mary Vasquez is executive director of Restore Belize.

 

Mary Vasquez

Mary Vasquez, Executive Director, Restore Belize

“This week we’re offering a forty-hour conflict medication training course. we started conflict mediating last year in May. The U.S. State Department through the U.S. Embassy came to Belize to train Belizeans who work with youths in conflict—this methodology for conflict mediation. So last year, they were here for two months. During that time, they trained thirty-six Belizean youth service providers. They also trained a subset of those to be trainers. So this year, we’ve gotten additional funding from the U.S. Embassy and the British High Commission to spread that training much further. So this year we are conducting a series of training courses for conflict mediators. We are doing a lot of high schools this year. Last year we started with Kolbe, Youth Hostel, Youth Cadet Corp [and] Community Policing. This year, we are continuing to train those agencies, but we are not spreading it to high schools—both in Belize City as well as in the other districts.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“How well do you see this exercise in terms of reaching your core audience and being able to instill in them the value of being able to resolve situations amicably as opposed to either getting physical or other forms of violence?”

 

Mary Vasquez

“Well conflict is a natural human phenomenon. We live together; we will invariably end up in conflict. Conflict, however, does not need to be destructive of violent. What we are seeing happening in Belize is that a lot of times the conflict—whether it is in a relationship, in a family or between gangs or between students, it is becoming violent and having very destructive consequences. It’s taking away lives, but it also wrecking people’s careers and wrecking people’s homes. So what we are promoting here is really a culture of peace; how to live together in a peaceful way. And a big part of that is to equip people with the problem-solving tools to be able to meet whatever needs they have; to be able to address their frustrations in a constructive, non-violent way. The mediation program equips people to mediate between two parties that are in dispute.”

 

Also facilitating the training is Corporal Hortence Hernandez.  The goal is to work directly with other training facilitators to jointly arbitrate conflicts within a number of agencies in Belize City.

 

Hortence Hernandez, Facilitator

“The feedback is natural. It is the same feedback we had given while getting the training; participants want to know how does mediation work, where they go from here and things like that.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What are some of the topics under this particular umbrella that to you is most helpful in terms of having these students—if I may—go out into the field and impart the knowledge that they are learning here?”

 

Hortence Hernandez

Hortence Hernandez

“The topic varies. Generally, mediation. Mediation is the key thing here; how to mediate. We have I-messages—instead of blaming somebody for something, you start taking responsibility of the situation. Caucusing—separating the disputants in different rooms to get to the bottom of a story and things like those.”

 

The ongoing exercise is the second of a series of conflict mediation workshops planned for this year.  Training is being provided by the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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