12/08/2012

The healing touch

The healing touch

A GROUP of visionary Bahrainis hope to heal community rifts caused by last year's unrest and promote reconciliation through social dialogue and conflict resolution workshops.
They have been urging Bahrainis from different political viewpoints, social classes and religious sects to come together and talk about their similarities and differences during monthly "dialogue dinners".
They are part of the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse (BFRCD), which is spearheading a community-based approach to healing rifts.
At the gatherings, which are closed to the media, people learn to accept differences and let go of their preconceived notions about each other, said Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi, who is BFRCD founder and chairman.
The foundation was initiated in June, with the backing of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, as an apolitical initiative to reach out to people.
"We observe that in Bahrain, people are just not talking to each other," said Mr Algosaibi.
"They are talking about each other but not talking to each other.
"People in Bahrain, especially the youth, have a desperate need to be heard.
"People hide behind pseudonyms on social media platforms such as Twitter.
"They may be very vocal online, but we really need people speaking face to face."
Lessons learnt from Northern Ireland's sectarian conflict are also explored and peaceful resolution to Bahrain's societal and political differences are often debated in the foundation's initiatives and workshops.
"It took Northern Ireland three decades to realise that violence is not the answer and that you need a peaceful resolution," said Mr Algosaibi.
"I fear we are where Northern Ireland was in 1958."
The dialogue dinners usually begin with those invited sharing their opinions on two things, which they feel the foundation ought to be doing, explained Mr Algosaibi.
"They often start by giving us suggestions and then start commenting on the situation in Bahrain," he said.
"They get it off their chest and that for them is a healing process."
However, he said the biggest obstacle the initiative has faced was lack of trust.
"Some people think we are way too close to the government and conversely, some think we are way too close to the opposition," said Mr Algosaibi. "I think if we are being attacked from both sides, we must be doing something right."
The role of the media in polarising communities and creating images also forms a key aspect of their programmes.
Conflict resolution experts are also working with the foundation to help with the healing process and promote discourse within the community.
They believe communities need to come to terms with their anger before it is channelled into violence.
"Anger and violence always come out in the weakest and most vulnerable link in the society and children often tend to be that link," said community development expert Dr J'Lein Liese, who conducted a conflict resolution workshop for the foundation.
"It is important to be cognisant of the fact that children are sponges and that they take in emotions and internalise what adults think and feel."
She explained that secondary victims of trauma she had worked with in crisis zones, often tend to hold on to resentment longer and continue the conflict.
The neutral platform provided by the foundation has also helped to clear dissonance in people's minds, said BFRCD vice-president Amin Al Arrayed.
"There were a number of instances during our dinners when people admitted they were wrong or that they had misjudged and you see a lot of softening of positions," he said.
"They would come in with a hard position and leave a little mellow."
jennifer@gdn.com.bh

The healing touch

A GROUP of visionary Bahrainis hope to heal community rifts caused by last year's unrest and promote reconciliation through social dialogue and conflict resolution workshops.
They have been urging Bahrainis from different political viewpoints, social classes and religious sects to come together and talk about their similarities and differences during monthly "dialogue dinners".
They are part of the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse (BFRCD), which is spearheading a community-based approach to healing rifts.
At the gatherings, which are closed to the media, people learn to accept differences and let go of their preconceived notions about each other, said Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi, who is BFRCD founder and chairman.
The foundation was initiated in June, with the backing of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, as an apolitical initiative to reach out to people.
"We observe that in Bahrain, people are just not talking to each other," said Mr Algosaibi.
"They are talking about each other but not talking to each other.
"People in Bahrain, especially the youth, have a desperate need to be heard.
"People hide behind pseudonyms on social media platforms such as Twitter.
"They may be very vocal online, but we really need people speaking face to face."
Lessons learnt from Northern Ireland's sectarian conflict are also explored and peaceful resolution to Bahrain's societal and political differences are often debated in the foundation's initiatives and workshops.
"It took Northern Ireland three decades to realise that violence is not the answer and that you need a peaceful resolution," said Mr Algosaibi.
"I fear we are where Northern Ireland was in 1958."
The dialogue dinners usually begin with those invited sharing their opinions on two things, which they feel the foundation ought to be doing, explained Mr Algosaibi.
"They often start by giving us suggestions and then start commenting on the situation in Bahrain," he said.
"They get it off their chest and that for them is a healing process."
However, he said the biggest obstacle the initiative has faced was lack of trust.
"Some people think we are way too close to the government and conversely, some think we are way too close to the opposition," said Mr Algosaibi. "I think if we are being attacked from both sides, we must be doing something right."
The role of the media in polarising communities and creating images also forms a key aspect of their programmes.
Conflict resolution experts are also working with the foundation to help with the healing process and promote discourse within the community.
They believe communities need to come to terms with their anger before it is channelled into violence.
"Anger and violence always come out in the weakest and most vulnerable link in the society and children often tend to be that link," said community development expert Dr J'Lein Liese, who conducted a conflict resolution workshop for the foundation.
"It is important to be cognisant of the fact that children are sponges and that they take in emotions and internalise what adults think and feel."
She explained that secondary victims of trauma she had worked with in crisis zones, often tend to hold on to resentment longer and continue the conflict.
The neutral platform provided by the foundation has also helped to clear dissonance in people's minds, said BFRCD vice-president Amin Al Arrayed.
"There were a number of instances during our dinners when people admitted they were wrong or that they had misjudged and you see a lot of softening of positions," he said.
"They would come in with a hard position and leave a little mellow."
jennifer@gdn.com.bh

DAILY NEWS
By Jennifer Gnana ,

A GROUP of visionary Bahrainis hope to heal community rifts caused by last year's unrest and promote reconciliation through social dialogue and conflict resolution workshops.
They have been urging Bahrainis from different political viewpoints, social classes and religious sects to come together and talk about their similarities and differences during monthly "dialogue dinners".
They are part of the Bahrain Foundation for Reconciliation and Civil Discourse (BFRCD), which is spearheading a community-based approach to healing rifts.
At the gatherings, which are closed to the media, people learn to accept differences and let go of their preconceived notions about each other, said Bahraini entrepreneur Suhail Algosaibi, who is BFRCD founder and chairman.
The foundation was initiated in June, with the backing of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, as an apolitical initiative to reach out to people.
"We observe that in Bahrain, people are just not talking to each other," said Mr Algosaibi.
"They are talking about each other but not talking to each other.
"People in Bahrain, especially the youth, have a desperate need to be heard.
"People hide behind pseudonyms on social media platforms such as Twitter.
"They may be very vocal online, but we really need people speaking face to face."
Lessons learnt from Northern Ireland's sectarian conflict are also explored and peaceful resolution to Bahrain's societal and political differences are often debated in the foundation's initiatives and workshops.
"It took Northern Ireland three decades to realise that violence is not the answer and that you need a peaceful resolution," said Mr Algosaibi.
"I fear we are where Northern Ireland was in 1958."
The dialogue dinners usually begin with those invited sharing their opinions on two things, which they feel the foundation ought to be doing, explained Mr Algosaibi.
"They often start by giving us suggestions and then start commenting on the situation in Bahrain," he said.
"They get it off their chest and that for them is a healing process."
However, he said the biggest obstacle the initiative has faced was lack of trust.
"Some people think we are way too close to the government and conversely, some think we are way too close to the opposition," said Mr Algosaibi. "I think if we are being attacked from both sides, we must be doing something right."
The role of the media in polarising communities and creating images also forms a key aspect of their programmes.
Conflict resolution experts are also working with the foundation to help with the healing process and promote discourse within the community.
They believe communities need to come to terms with their anger before it is channelled into violence.
"Anger and violence always come out in the weakest and most vulnerable link in the society and children often tend to be that link," said community development expert Dr J'Lein Liese, who conducted a conflict resolution workshop for the foundation.
"It is important to be cognisant of the fact that children are sponges and that they take in emotions and internalise what adults think and feel."
She explained that secondary victims of trauma she had worked with in crisis zones, often tend to hold on to resentment longer and continue the conflict.
The neutral platform provided by the foundation has also helped to clear dissonance in people's minds, said BFRCD vice-president Amin Al Arrayed.
"There were a number of instances during our dinners when people admitted they were wrong or that they had misjudged and you see a lot of softening of positions," he said.
"They would come in with a hard position and leave a little mellow."
jennifer@gdn.com.bh