Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More workshops

Workshops are a major part of life here when you are working with groups. Some are good, others...

This past weekend I participated in two different workshops which I found helpful.

From Friday evening to Sunday morning I participated in an Alternatives to Violence Project workshop in Gracias, Lempira, which Sister Nancy had arranged with Val Liveoak who works for the Project. There were two other facilitators of this process that helps develop skills for transforming situations of conflict and potential violence. The project started in prisons in New York State after the Attica riots when prisoners asked for training in conflict resolution. It’s now in about fifty countries and has been in El Salvador and Guatemala for several years.

The workshop closed with a ceremony in which we joined our hands together to show the importance of solidarity and working together for real alternatives to violence.

It was a good experience and I hope I can help arrange workshops here in Santa Rosa. All of us need to learn skills to deal with conflict. And in Honduras there is a great need, not only interpersonally but also in the society which has been torn apart by the coup. But, as this project and other projects note, this peacemaking must be based in justice – for, I believe, you cannot make peace if injustice and inequality are accepted as normal.

I left the workshop about 11 am and rushed (by bus) to Santa Rosa where I helped a workshop being held by the Social Ministry of the cathedral parish of Santa Rosa de Lima. Three of us who had received training from World Vision in January had planned the workshop but I was only able to help with the last part, talking about community and parish responses to HIV and AIDS.

There were 23 participants in this workshop, most members of the cathedral parish – an interesting mix of youth and adults, mostly women but with a good representation of males. I was pleased to see the enthusiasm and their desire to do something.

These “Channels of Hope” workshops always close with a ceremony of light which is quite moving. This time, though, I thought a lot about a former Iowa State University student whom I had known in campus ministry at St. Thomas Aquinas. After several years working in the corporate world she spent one year with Catholic Relief Services in Africa and is now working in Kenya as a Maryknoll lay missioner, working in the AIDS orphan project in Mombasa. Check out her blog here.

I shared with the people here the commitment of the Catholic Church in Africa with people infected with or affected by HIV and AIDS. I challenged them to be a church that responds to these people who have been marginalized.

I have recently heard several stories of the marginalization of people infected with HIV and their families locally. People are shunned and even shut up into rooms. Recently no one attended the wake of one person who died who was HIV+. What a shame and a sin.

Violence and HIV are just two of the many problems here, exacerbated by the injustice and poverty. These workshops are small efforts to begin the process of rebuilding Honduras, or – as people in the Resistance say – refounding the country.

No comments: