A five-day workshop with community workers from Belize City is ongoing through the Youth & Community Transformation Project (YCT). YCT is a comprehensive social intervention, which response to the challenges facing vulnerable groups, particularly at-risk youths on Southside Belize City. The workers are being taught several skills in addressing conflict mediation with at-risk youths. The Conflict Mediation Programme aims to promote a culture of peace by providing citizens with tools and services for non-violent conflict resolution and creative problem solving through mediation training. Love News spoke to the Communications Officer at Restore Belize and she stated that they arranged the workshop in partnership with the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation & Poverty Alleviation.
Anna Banner-Guy, Communications Officer, RESTORE Belize: “Restore Belize has a mandate to respond to violent crimes particularly within the Belize City communities. Conflict resolution is not new to us, we have done this before with many different schools primarily in the more violent communities in Belize City but what is different about this particular training is that we’re also including community workers. We know that as much as the teachers work with the students, the government as well as other social partners and NGOs they also work along with young people through different programs. It’s important for us to arm all our community workers with these very important skills in conflict mediation. The reality is that most of our participants have been actively involved in mediating different conflicts on a daily basis, this training however is bringing new skills, techniques and formalizing the work that they have been doing for many years in some cases and we’re hoping that they will leave from here feeling more confident, feeling more secure and of course being more efficient as it resolve to solving conflicts but more importantly is that these skills be passed on to the young persons that they work with in their communities and by extension strengthening and building the communities. It’s very important for us at RESTORE Belize to create a more sustainable society and our main target is building and improving and strengthening citizen security for Belize on a whole but more importantly for our most valuable resource which is our human resources.”
Love News spoke to a participant of the workshop who is also a Police Officer and she had concerns regarding her approach as a police officer and that as a mediator.
Marleny Montejo, Participant: “My unit, Community Policing, we deal with the youths them. We are the ones who would usually respond to conflicts between youths and we know these days our youths are having a lot of conflict among themselves be it students or youths just on the street. So me and some of my colleagues we are here we usually do mediation but like old school way so we are here to learn and enhance our knowledge of doing it the proper way. We are getting a lot of knowledge, its a very knowledgeable training and we are hoping to take back a lot from this and putting it into our sessions when we deal with our youths that we usually come across. This training we are learning about different techniques and different ways we can go forward with in dealing with the different situations we come to face with the youths.”
Reporter: So what is one way you’ve learned to do things differently after the training ?
Marleny Montejo, Participant: “One of the main ones and like our instructors was telling us, we the officers we have to take off the policing hat and go into the mediator itself, becoming a mediator ourselves and we will find it much better than dealing as per our law the way we usually do it and gaining the trust of the youths is one of the main reason and I believe sometimes that is where we would usually go the wrong way in not gaining the trust from the youths and that is one of the biggest ones we are learning here. We must learn that being the mediator is not being the police officer at that time.”
The workshop commenced on February third and will end tomorrow under the theme “Capacity Building in Conflict Mediation.”