- INTER COMMUNITY VISITS AND EXCHANGES
- FUNDED COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
- NET WORKING
PCA’s work starts with listening to what communities and group say, understanding what people’s needs are and building on their existing capabilities.
The community sets the agenda. The participants, for example, design the APBC programme. The field staff are community mobilisers rather than teachers. This is part of our philosophy.
We always seek to use participatory methods. Participants will tell us what they want to do. We don’t impose our own ideas.
We use a supportive and exploratory style. Peace work is not about us trying to find quick answers.
We plan for as long as possible. Most projects receive funding for 12 months. We believe, however, that peace is a process that takes much longer than this. We therefore make long term plans for our short term funding.
We build long- term relationships with people, we encourage trust and consistency.
We aim to help community leaders, and community members and community groups build their capacity to take responsibility for themselves and others. This takes the form of personal and social development to increase their understanding of themselves and others, working together to overcome difficulties and build peace
Being a Peacebuilding organisation does not necessarily mean an organisation or project is conflict sensitive. PCA undertakes a conflict analysis for each proposed project to identify the main conflicts and tensions in the community or group at present and in the past. Looking for those that could affect the community and project. We work on the most important conflicts and monitor and manage the others. Being conflict sensitive means we also examine HOW we roll out each activity within the project so we do not exacerbate existing conflicts or create new ones. We use”Do no Harm” methodologies for his aspect of our work. A number of our Senior Sinhala and Tamil staff are recognised International DNH Trainers.
Empowerment and Participation
We help individuals, groups, and communities to find their own solutions to their difficulties by building their confidence and capacity to do so. This includes project participants/beneficiaries being active partners in designing and reviewing projects and evaluating our performance. As communities become more adept at working together as a team, so they become more and more involved in planning and delivering the project activities themselves, and taking ownership of the project. Integral to most projects is the community or group establishing a “problem solving forum” which often comes from, or includes members of, an existing Community Based Organisation. We usually offer a Community Initiative Fund to each forum to help them solve a local problem affecting their community as a whole. This serves to give them a real opportunity to practice their new skills of non violent decision making, helps them be seen as credible representatives of the community, and gives them confidence to solve other problems faced by their communities.
Coaching or mentoring is a powerful tool which enables individuals to create a bridge between what they learn in workshops and how they practice that learning in their lives. Coaching is usually a one-to-one activity and helps build the capacity of project participants/beneficiaries to change themselves, their lives and their communities. Our Coaches use active listening skills, model non violence, help participants reflect on their experience, and plan new ways of behaving and solving difficulties without creating or exacerbating conflict.
Conflict uses huge amounts of energy leaving people exhausted confused and angry. We help communities, groups and individuals in conflict to understand where their violence comes from and to use the energy to create positive solutions for themselves to their difficulties and differences using non violent approaches.
Human Rights and Human Responsibilities
Many of the people we work with are not aware of their human rights and not aware of the human rights of others. Raising awareness of human rights goes hand-in-hand with our empowerment work as many of the problems that communities face are linked to denial of services and lack of accountability which are resolved by empowering local CBOs to represent their communities in these matters. Some sections of the community are excluded from community decision making and from equal rights. Here we particularly look at women headed families, the disabled, low cast families, and children. Raising awareness, including, and challenging are activities within this part of our work. To broaden this approach we subscribe to the charter of human responsibilities where we acknowledge the balance between rights and responsibilities for all human beings. This is a global responsibility for all and includes concerns for the environment and more generally that short term priorities are informed by long term consequences that take into account the importance of inter-generational stewardship.
Non Violent Approaches
PCA has developed a distinctive, ever evolving, methodology, based on non violence philosophy and practice, which helps grass roots communities and individuals build peace in their lives and in their communities and become actors in democratising those communities. It encourages communities to take responsibility for their issues and find ways to resolve them through increasing knowledge, empowerment, and team building. PCA’s NVA involves creating an understanding of the “violence cycle” whereby negative events (often personal) feed one another and colour our perceptions and judgement leading to an escalation in conflict at personal, community and societal levels. NVA looks at ways to transform relationships to break this cycle and engage in ‘Non Violent Communication’ (Observation-Feeling-Need-Request) as described by Marshall Rosenberg (‘A language for life’ – PuddleDancer Press 2003).
Our practise tells us that non violent but assertive approaches to solving problems, agreeing differences, and securing rights are far more effective and are less likely to exacerbate old conflicts or create new ones. Our work with communities is based on the foundation rock of personally modelling behaviour, skills, and attitudes. This is balanced by awareness raising activity about self and others, and imparting new knowledge and building new skills.