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Report on Mediation Training in DRC, N. Kivu, Rwanda, DRC S. Kivu, and Burundi
July 6-August 14, 2009
Cushman Anthony, Renee Bove and George Brose

The general plan before arrival was to teach 11 , 3-day sessions training previously trained mediators and new mediators. The training sites and number of days of teaching are shown in the table below as well as number of participants by gender and number of mediations done in the past year. Absentees from previous trainings are also noted in order to extrapolate approximate numbers of mediations resulting in the past year. The schedule was altered somewhat to accommodate visa problems and trainer fatigue. At one point we found that for 17 consecutive days we were teaching and/or in buses. Based on the number of cases mediated by the attendees, I estimated the number of cases mediated by the absentees. This estimate may be spurious, since absentees may also have self deselected from mediation. It appears that Burundi mediators were the most active on a per capita basis.

Training 1 Ebeneezer Peace Center, Goma, DRC July 10-12

We gathered with 17 previously trained people on Thursday A.M. and opened with introductions, prayers and music. We asked people to share their experiences and pose questions that we might try to answer, and revise on theory. To this , Renee added specialized training on ‘deep listening’, ie. seeking out the sentiments or feelings of mediation participants. Deep listening became the overriding theme of all of our trainings. Judy Friesem expressed to me that she had a lot of difficulty conveying the concept when she trained in 2006. I had no specialized training in the concept and had not taught it in my 2007 and 2008 trainings. We finalized by doing some practice mediations. In so much as this was the first time Renee and I had met and taught together, we began developing a team teaching style and ultimately got tuned in to each other and came up with a method by the second or third course. We found that in doing the practice mediations with all the students observing, and critiquing after each practice mediation, they were able to assimilate the concept of deep listening by the fourth or fifth practice mediation. It was learning from errors that became the pedagogical tool. We were amazed that from the viewer’s seat, they could see the errors of putting problem solving first ahead of getting to the root of the problem. It was amazing to watch, and by the last course we taught together it became quite predictable.

The Goma Ebeneezer Center was under some stress of needing to find a new home. The current landlord is converting the property into a petrol station. The court yard has had three huge underground reservoirs offloaded and filling the area and a crew of excavators working full time.

I asked people how many cases they had done since their first training. The number totaled about 51. Most had done 2 or 3, some 4.

They seem to be fairly comfortable with the process as demonstrated during their practice mediations that we all observed. Renee was impressed that they had grasped things so well. She said that her mediation center spends 40 hours alone just doing deep listening skills when training new mediators in Oregon.

Training 2 IDP Camp Bulengo July 13-15

Potentially this training would present more of a challenge with a larger number of participants. Forty-eight people attended. They came from Bulengo and three other camps, Bulinda, Mugunga 1 and Mugunga 2. We were surprised to learn more than 30 of the 48 people attending had already received a basic training in Transformative Mediation in the past year. In fact there had been 5 courses beginning August, 2008 in the camps with approximately 25 students per course. This could be extrapolated to about 125 mediators in the camps. By interviewing our participants I learned that collectively this group of 48 had already done 125 cases. That could conservatively estimate that the 125 trained mediators have done about 250 cases.

Being in a camp, made the training environment much different from Goma. It was hot in the tent with an outside temperature in the mid 80’s. Food distribution was going on outside, so there was noise of hundreds of voices nearby. People were coming to the windows of the tent to see what was going on inside (unprogrammed public education about Mediation) When we did mock mediations which were hot and heavy, this really drew a crowd of observers, and I believe they may have thought that the real thing was happening, because of the intensity that the students acted in the role plays. Each day was charged with theory but many practical answers to the many, many questions of our participants. The questions that struck us the most were pertaining to hunger, that of the mediators and the disputants. How do you mediate when you are hungry? Each person in the camps gets 6 kilos of corn flour for one month and some cooking oil. They can supplement their food only if they have a garden somewhere, which many do, or if they steal the food from others, which I’m sure happens, or if they can forage or go into town if they have any money to buy extra food. They said that there is a lot of fighting over food in the camps. Last year when I was here, the food rations had been reduced by 25% because of failure by donor countries to maintain their pledges. We ended our 3 day session with four hotly contested practice mediations. Each camp doing a presentation that was followed by questions and answers and looking for teaching points. These were some of the best practice mediations that either of us have ever seen. The spirit of our students was overwhelming us. Renee had a hard time keeping the tears from flowing.

You often learn new things by teaching the same things. This training at the camp provided us with a very good opportunity to learn and appreciate the clash of cultures.

On the third day at lunch our coordinator , Samuel, came to me and confided that they had tried to find eggs for everyone but had only been able to acquire 10 eggs. He offered us first choice on the eggs and I declined , politely I thought, and suggested that he give them to the many nursing mothers who were attending as participants. Shortly afterward I regretted this, as I realized I had probably committed a faux pas by refusing his offer. It turned out that I was correct in that assumption. I went back to Samuel, and discussed the matter. He agreed that I was wrong in not accepting, so we decided to talk about this as a learning tool in the course, the intent and the impact of our actions. I discussed this with the class, as Samuel translated into Swahili. The group seemed to see the problem and understand what had happened. I asked them how the matter might have been better dealt with. They had many ideas about who might have received the eggs, some I would never have considered. Their suggestions included feeding the pregnant mothers, or women who had never been able to conceive. They also suggested that it be the elders. I don’t think the children were mentioned. We all began to see the importance of consultation and good intentions and bad results. I ended the session by making a public apology to Samuel and to them and they accepted. This was a population who on a good day may have gotten two meals. Amongst the participants was the recently elected camp president, Philemon. He credited his election to his previous mediation training and ability to work with multi-ethnic situations.

We concluded the training at 3:00PM , left the camp for Goma, crossed the border and rode by bus to Kigali that evening as we had our third training scheduled to begin the following day.

Training 3 Kigali July 16-18, 2009 near Kicukiro Centre

This training was held at a new center below Kicukiro Centre. Eighteen people began although there was a Friends Quarterly meeting scheduled on Saturday and two did not come the second day.

We started the training by asking people what were their expectations for the training. We learned that five were coming to mediation training for the first time, and the rest had already received several trainings. This presents the challenge of bringing one group up to speed without boring the more experienced people. We again were surprised by the level of questioning in the deep listening part of the training. Again the participants really seemed to grasp the process. They are however their own worst critics. They criticize each other unmercifully after the practice mediations, and we had to balance things out with our comments which were very complementary and very truthful. We finally gave out certificates of participation to 18 people.

July 19 Travel to Kidaho.

Training 4 Kidaho July 20-22 at Friends School

We arrived in Ruhengeri on Sunday July 19 and had been invited to visit several catholic institutions which we did in the afternoon before heading up to Kidaho. After arriving by 6:30PM, we were received by our hosts and set up in the guesthouse at the headmaster’s home. Training was delayed for over an hour due to a major forest fire in the tree line on the mountain above the school. It had been started accidentally by honey gatherers. Several participants had been on the mountain the day before fighting the fire. It was the worst fire in the area since 1979 and helicopters were flying during daylight dumping water on the flames. Second major fire of our tour, as 700 homes were destroyed in Goma by a fire the day we arrived.

Only one participant had had mediation training. His comment before the class was would it be all right if he only attended the parts of the course that he didn’t already know about. He ended up not missing a minute and stated that it sure wasn’t the mediation process that he had learned previously. He was a teacher in the village and said that he would be using what we had taught. With the help of Eugene Twizimana, we were able to convey our message through the first day including Conflict, Types of Mediation, Case Management, Greeting the parties to mediation and opening statement by the mediator, Discussion and Conclusion of the process. It appeared that letting an experienced local mediator do some of the sales work during the presentations was quite effective.
We traveled back to Kigali in the evening and left the next morning for Byumba.

Of note, one policeman attended. Two catholic priests, a psychology student, and a third year law student from Burundi attended through request of a contact George had in Ohio. They were fascinated by the training, and the priests said it would really help them in their parish work. The parishes in the Ruhengeri diocese average about 30,000 people.

Training 5 Byumba, Rwanda July 23-24, 2009 Friends Peace Center

Eugene Twizerimana organized this training at the Friends Peace Center in Byumba. He said it was announced with short notice, but the 17 who came were really fast learners. One pastor had been a disputant in a case mediated last year. He gave a strong endorsement of the process. The case had been quite public in the town. It had not settled during the six hours of mediation last year, but the seeds of peace had been sown and were reaped several months later. Again by going through practice mediations even though this was only a two day course, I think that similar results were attained in so far as the students getting to an acceptable level of competence to begin doing some mediations in the presence of a more experienced mediator. Most of the participants were pastors in the community.

Training 6 Uvira South Kivu July 30 –August 1, 2009 Friends Peace Center

This mediation was delayed by the inability of the trainers to cross into the DRC without first getting visas in Bujumbura. We were finally able to cross on Wednesday the 28th, but our third mediator Cushman Anthony was not able to arrive by then due to travel delays in the US. We elected to go on without him in order to get the first training done in Uvira. He arrived on July 31, but would not be able to join us for the first course, also due to visa problems. After completing the course in Uvira, Renee went back to Bujumbura to join Cushman and continue the trainings as scheduled in Burundi. George stayed on in the DRC and did the two previously scheduled mediations in Mboko and Luvungi.

The Uvira training started four days late but was very well attended. There were several chefs du sector and a senior chief present. The senior chief was quite ill, (four different types of worms, he confided), but he sat through all three days and made a rousing speech at the end of the training. Also a reporter attended and was an active participant. He filed his reports for local radio, but it turned out that there was national coverage as well. Each day the progress of the course was noted on the national news. At the conclusion, four speeches by chiefs and the program coordinator were taped and broadcast. When we arrived at Mboko the next day, the local chief told us he knew we were due to arrive, because he heard it on the radio. No more talking drums.

The course itself was much like the others. We drilled on theory and watched the participnats stumble through the first cases done in front of the other participants. Critiquing was done after each case, the performances improved as we went through each case.

In talking about case experiences in the past year, several of note were mentioned including two involving accidental deaths that ended in arrests being made but parties were released by the police to try mediation. So local authorities may well be buying into the process. Also a homicide case was mediated, including the perpetrator, and he was released. Probably a take on restorative justice. I’m not quite sure how this was finessed into getting mediated. Families requested it, and they had had a long history of violence between the two groups. Maybe they just decided to try something new.

The course went all day on Saturday.

Training 7 Mboko, South Kivu, August 4-August 5, 2009 Primary School

On Sunday morning Renee departed for Burundi to meet and join up with Cushman, and I headed to Abeka and stayed at the mission at Nundu. This was rough a and beautiful ride down in a Landcruiser that was layed on by the Legal Representative Mkoko Boseka. I had no idea I would be returning the 75Km on the back of a mototaxi. Something I can tell the grandkids about. Just have to get my sacrum out from between my shoulders. I was able to tour the hospital and meet the doctor and medical assistant. I will see what I can do about gathering some medical supplies that I hope will be delivered in November by a friend coming out to Goma.

The revised schedule only allowed for two days instruction at Mboko and later at Luvungi. They were my 7th and 8th courses, and I thought I could do it in 2 days as we would not be running anything in English which we had earlier for Renee. I was right in that assessment. I also relied more on Leon, Manasseh, and Mado Masoko to carry some of the teaching responsibility directly in Swahili. They had just participated in the three day training in Uvira, and it was a good teacher training opportunity. The course went much as expected. There was one judge present along with several chiefs and several Banyamulenge from the Haut Plateau. Each morning we rode the 15 Km from Nundu to Mboko by mototaxi.

The elected sector chief received us at our arrival in Mboko. He was the one who had heard on the radio that we would be arriving that day. He came to open the course and returned to present the certificates and make the formal closing.

When the course was over on the 5th of August we headed straight back to Uvira, stopping in Nundu for a quick supper before continuing and arriving at dark.

Training 8 Lunvungi August 6-August 7, 2009 Ecole Conventionee Catholic shared with Friends

The next morning we made an early start for the ride to Luvungi. Stopped one time for a traffic accident and helped patch up an injured bicycle rider, then continued on our way. Leon had made contact with the 8th Brigade commandant of the Congolese army earlier, and he offered us to stay at his private villa. It was located two miles out of town on a plain overlooking the town to the east and the mountains to the west. There were armed guards present. Quite impressive. We got started by 11:00Am and had the ususal goal of getting it all done in two days. There was the head judge of the local tribunal amongst the participants; he was also the senior chief in the area. There were three other chiefs. The judge was a bit skeptical of the process, but by the end of the course he gave mediation a very good endorsement.

Renee and Cushman will add their commentaries to this report and Renee can edit all that leads up to this point if she wishes.

Overview of the 2009 training project.

The original schedule was very ambitious, and had I looked at it more closely before I came out, I would have suggested a day’s rest between courses. However the “I can do anything” mentality still prevails. By the time the eight courses I was involved in were over, I was more than happy that there wasn’t a ninth to start the next day. I might have considered going up to share one of the two simultaneous courses in Mutaho and Kybinda, but my plane was scheduled to leave Kigali the day after the last course terminates. Therefore I chose to come back to Kigali to start writing this report before leaving.

Renee and my experience working together and finding a good teaching pattern has left us talking about writing a manual particular to the area. Of course dreams are dreams but we are seriously considering doing something. Last year I left a Transformative Mediation manual here for translation, but I saw no evidence of it while on this trip.

Commentaries about the trainings are positive. Politeness of our students? Most ask for a manual or some kind of printed syllabus, which we did not supply. We made up the syllabus as we went along and as we perceived the needs of our students. There was a lot of seat of the pants teaching at first. I think people were quite appreciative of the efforts of the organizers at each seminar/training. I was impressed by the list of participants who attended.

There is a need to include more women in future trainings. They were greatly underrepresented. This may even be answered by doing some all women trainings. There are a number of competent trainers in the DRC, Leon, Manasseh, and Samuel and some up and coming assistants, Mado, Ramasirah, and others. Guillaume Umulate in Bukavu if he has time, would make a great trainer. In Rwanda, Eugene seems to have a good handle on the process and he is a very good teacher. I was not present to see the action in Burundi this time, but I think Anne Marie and Josias would be good trainers, especially if teamed together, and Phillipe if he could be available. Louis Monfort apparently has done a lot of mediating this past year, 13 cases, and he might be approached about leading trainings. Leon is really good about putting everything together and adapting in South Kivu. And of course there are David Bucura and Bridget Butt who worked on the overall planning and schedule. So I believe the human resources are fairly well developed locally to go on with more mediation training. If people in the West can be encouraged to come over and share their knowledge and experience, it will keep bringing new perspectives into the environment and also some financing. I don’t think it is necessary anymore to say to the West, we need your help, so much as we would like to share our knowledge and experiences with you. If new trainers want to come over next year, it might be worth considering having a two or three day training for them in the States much like the Work Campers do before leaving the US. I will be interested to see what Congolese, Rwandan, and Burundian mediation looks like in a few years. It is an evolving process in any country, and maybe a few things we’ve brought here can be adopted, adapted, and put into a practice that responds to the cultural contexts of these countries. We have all been greatly humbled by our experiences here and by the people we have met and worked beside. We will continue to support you as best we can.


George Brose August 10, 2009 Kigali