Last week we went on our first parish visit of 2011. Parish visits are a time for us to see the Fathers and Sisters in their homes and communities and, in a small way, to try to understand more directly how peace and justice issues affect Sudanese people throughout the Diocese. We usually try to do an interactive seminar with women and youth groups.
In our first year we did community mapping with these groups. We would make a map of their communities using pictures and scotch tape. Then we would talk about where in the community were the places of conflict, or potential conflict. We would mark the places in red. Then we would talk about where in the community were the places of peace. We would mark these places in green. It was our hope and goal was that this could help people see how “every-day” peace and conflict our in our lives. People would also comment on how it surprised them that peace and conflict could be found in the same place.
Next we would talk about how we could transform the situations of conflict that they identified in their communities into places of peace – how we could make more green marks on the map and less red marks. Last week our conversation about peace and conflict with the Agangrial youth focused on cows. Dinkas love cows. They are a status symbol and they are wealth. Traditionally cattle rustling has always taken place between different sub-tribes but in recent years the violence and intensity of the rustling has grown. Normally, this is why people identify cattle camps as places of conflict. But the Agangrial youth had another reason as to why cattle camps were places of potential violence – it was where youth would go to get big and healthy so that they could take revenge for a wrong done to their family. Just as cattle rustling has grown in violence and intensity so have revenge killings. Our Dinka teacher once told me, “If a person doesn’t take revenge they will be excommunicated from the family”.
Transforming these places of conflict to peace means we really need to look at the root causes of the conflict in the first place. When someone is killed in your family there is a loss of identity. The youth of Agangrial brainstormed together how someone could gain again a sense of identity without resorting to violence. They said, “You need to become their family”.
As the women’s group was talking of places of peace in their community they highlighted the hospital. They said that a doctor has a duty to treat all patients – even if that patient has somehow wronged the doctor. The women said that the doctor should not care where the person is from or what they have done in their past, their job is to heal them.
Inspired by this idea Joel proposed that the women begin thinking of themselves as Doctors of Peace. Of people who will look past someone’s tribe or family and simply see a person or people that need to be healed.
This coming year in our visits and workshops we would like to develop this idea of Doctors of Peace more. Do you have ideas that you think would be effective?