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Developing leaders in sustainable peace building – within and between Ireland, Britain and South Africa.

 [quote]“We cannot change the past, but we can change our attitute toward it. Uproot guilt and plant forgiveness. Tear out arrogance and seed humility. Exchange love for hate — thereby, making the present comfortable and the future promising,” Maya Angelou[/quote]

The Sustainable Peace Programme’s focus brings together civic society representatives, ex-combatants and victims from the Northern Ireland “troubles” to create a project for  peace, run concurrently with principals of environmental sustainability. Wilderness plays a key role in the process and is proven to be a neutral and powerful arena for participants to discover their common humanity and to move forward.

Each new group of 12-15 participants is taken on two journeys, as well as preparation and follow up events. These journeys encourage the growth of enduring relationships through shared wilderness or nature based activities. The first journey involves a four day event in the Scottish Highlands (2005-7) or the Wicklow mountains (2008). Second trail is a two week journey to SA, which includes a 5 day wilderness trail.

Additional events and activities, mainly on the island of Ireland, encourage ongoing networking between participants from previous year groups.

Aims:

  • To provide opportunities for personal growth for 100 potential leaders, by 2010.
  • To promote sustainable relationships between victims/survivors, ex-combatants and members of the
  • broader society on the islands of Ireland and Britain.
  • To enhance appreciation for the roles of wilderness or nature-based activities in peace cultivation

Outcomes:

  • Understanding and passion for wilderness
  • Measurable change in attitude between different participants
  • Networks of former enemies developed
  • Improved tolerance and understanding
  • Willingness to share experience to prevent violence occurring in future
  • Research programme in process at Ulster University to explore reasons why wilderness experience affects reconciliation processes.

Total number in programme to date : 100