In August 2018 PaCSIA invited the four local partner organisations of the Melanesian Peace Dialogue Network (MPDN) to a three-day experience sharing workshop in Buka, Bougainville. Nasioi Peacebuilding Association (NPA) and Bougainville Indigenous Dialogue (BID) participated with 7 members each, Prison Fellowship Solomon Islands (PFSI) and Further Arts (FA) from Vanuatu sent 2 representatives each. PaCSIA was represented by Dr Erica Rose Jeffrey and Dr Serge Loode. The project is funded by Bread for the World in Germany.
The workshop aimed to provide opportunities for all four organisations to share their visions for peacebuilding and dialogue work, to present their completed project activities and learnings, to identify challenges in their work and to discuss how their organisations had developed. The last part of the dialogue was used to plan joint activities and opportunities to network beyond the workshop.
The dialogue method was elicitive and invited participants to share experiences, kastom knowledge and ideas in continued circle discussions. The dialogue was held over two and a half consecutive days with participants arriving on Thursday, 16 August and the workshop finishing officially on Saturday 18 August. Participants all stayed together on Sunday for more informal experience sharing and also organised an excursion to the Nazareth Centre for Rehabilitation in Chabai (North Bougainville).
In the first part of the dialogue participants shared information about themselves and their organisations. They also presented the different project activities that their organisations had implemented during the project duration. Presentations were followed up with questions and comments from colleagues and also raised important developments and challenges. The experience sharing dialogue concluded the action learning cycle that PaCSIA conducted with each partner organisation and assisted the partner organisations to learn from each other and to develop relationships and networks.
All partner organisations valued the discussions greatly and commented on the unique opportunity to learn from colleagues in Melanesia.
Immediately following the experience sharing workshop PFSI then conducted a five day Sycamore Tree Restorative Justice Training for the participants from NPA and BID, the first of its kind to be held in Bougainville. Bougainvillean peacebuilders have now been trained as trainers for this program and will utilize it in their post-conflict peacebuilding work. This training was a collaborative activity of the MPDN organisations. The training program was another milestone in the capacity-building initiatives for peacebuilders in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
MPDN partner organisations have now started their work for the 2018-2019 project round.