It’s Time to Talk About the Prison Visit

Source: GettingOutByGoingIn.org

I’ve been putting this one off for quite some time. I guess because I don’t know where to start or where to end, or even if there is a real “end” to this blog. There was a lot to take in.

From the beginning, it felt very eerie walking around the prison, like we weren’t supposed to be there. This made me uncomfortable, but I realized it was probably supposed to feel unwelcome. The prisoners probably always feel unwelcome in what is essentially their own home. Everything from the floor to the ceiling was a whiteish gray with chips and stains on the paint that reminded you how much our country cares about its prisoners. The walls were decorated with signs that directed where the “inmates” could and couldn’t go. I learned to hate that term, “inmate.” It feels so impersonal… not that the term “prisoner” doesn’t. At least a “prisoner” is being acknowledged as imprisoned person, which could be for a lot of reasons. Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned. Plenty of people are imprisoned for incredibly unjust reasons and become prisoners. But “inmate…” I’m not sure what that even means. I know it doesn’t feel like a person though. I suppose I’ll use the term prisoner— even though it still doesn’t feel right to me, either.

The prisoners were spending time out in the yard when we arrived. Some sitting and talking, some getting in exercise, but all of them aware of us. You could feel their interest and curiosity about our visit in their eyes constantly glued to us. If you looked at someone, they would instantly smile at you and say hello, ask you how your day is going, or advise you never to end up in a place like this. The prisoners were the brightest thing in the prison, which I will further explain later. 

The smell of the dinning hall hits you as soon as you walk through its doors. It overpowers any appetite that you previously had. I wonder how the prisoners deal with it each day. Do they eventually get used to it, or does the odor always haunt them? The tables were made of a silver metal with four seats around and no back support. I wonder if that causes back problems after a while.

 As we walk around the psych unit, I am haunted by my first cage. I’m sure it has a proper term, but I will refer to it as a cage as that is most literally what it is. Four walls, you can’t extend your arms to your sides, and I could touch the ceiling without fully extending my arm and I am only 5’4. I guess they put some psych patients in that cage when they’re acting up. I never saw anyone in the cage, but I pictured it in my mind—a fully grown man shoved into a cage like cattle. 

The (currently inhabited) cells we entered may have been the most impactful. The mattresses of the beds were a sort of (really) worn-down leather material, and the room was so tiny that again you couldn’t really stand beside your bed and extend your arms to your sides without hitting the wall. The wall was beautiful. Run down, of course, and aesthetically ugly, but decorated with drawings and notes from prisoners past. In one of the cells, there was one truly captivating painting by a prisoner that depicted a cross, Jesus, and a vivid mural stemming from his head. Other than the art, there was also poetry. It described feeling trapped, physically and mentally, and being unable to escape. It is depressingly amazing how the daily abuse of the prison system can create such intricate, soulful artwork. At one point they shut the massive metal doors of the cell with me inside. The slam of that door immediately sent my brain to a dark place. The room seemed ten times smaller. I would never know what it was really like to live in this cell, but I wonder what it was like to hear that door slam every night. 

It was after entering the cells that I began to feel numb. I was struck by so many emotions and fears that I think they all just turned off at once. I couldn’t do anything but sit in the common area and stare into space. When we walked into the yard, I couldn’t help but look at the prisoners and wonder how they didn’t all go crazy. However, this is where I first saw their light. Every single prisoner I passed gave me such a warm smile and wanted to talk to me. They seemed so happy to see us, regardless of their circumstances. I am not sure if they were really happy to see us or not, but seeing them so curious and inviting brought so much light into the dark prison. They are people too, and maybe having arbitrary contact with us on the outside is an exciting part of the day. For me, my guilt makes me feel like an insensitive scientist, examining animals in cages at work and then being able to leave to my nice life at the end of the day while my rabbit stays in its cage. I hope that the prisoners inside continue to experience small curiosities in their days as when we visited until one day when they are finally free.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”

By Zoe Jannuzi

There are some concepts in which we believe despite the difficulty of seeing any evidence of their existence. Religion is perhaps the most obvious example. Although for some, the physical evidence of their belief is apparent, many people believe in some higher power without the need for concrete proof of their faith. The concept of love is similar. Love can be shown through gestures, but is also something which most people believe exists even when they cannot see its physical manifestation. However, outside of these few examples, it is harder (though definitely not impossible) for people to believe in things which they cannot see.

This week Pushpa spoke to us about the practice of decolonizing knowledge. Though I love, and whole-heartedly support the idea, my colonized brain has trouble understanding how the process of decolonization will work in the long-term. Things that will take longer than my lifetime to complete, or venture even farther into the future than I could ever imagine, are tough for me to process. Even imagining a world where everybody has the tools to recognize all the ways that our world is colonized seems about as far-fetched to me as imaging a world with no conflict.

Just in case you thought that wasn’t hard enough, though we are working towards decolonizing our minds, decolonization is a goal, not an endpoint. Just as there is no such thing as “post-conflict,” a fully decolonized world can never exist.

Believing in God or a higher power despite being provided with no physical evidence of their existence is one thing. Spending your life believing in, and advocating for, a God or higher power while knowing for sure that you will never be provided with any physical evidence is quite another.

How then does one work towards something one cannot even begin to imagine? How do you continue to believe in decolonizing knowledge?

Pushpa provided one possibility. One way to start decolonizing knowledge is by decolonizing your mind. On a micro-scale, decolonization is easier to understand and implement. I may not have the capacity to radically imagine what a society that practiced decolonizing of knowledge would look like, but I can begin to imagine what my brain might look like if I practiced decolonization of knowledge. In this way, I am beginning to create that society.

You can also approach the concept of decolonization from the perspective of the other systems you believe in without full understanding. Most people believe in love, even if they have never experienced being in love. They may have little concept of the feeling of true love or the way being in love will affect their life. They may also be unsure as to whethere being in love is a recognizable destination or a process they’ll come to realize they have been going through. Yet they have this faith that one day they’ll be able to say they’re in love. Maybe this is how we approach decolonization. It doesn’t mean we can’t wonder about the practical application, but this approach suggests there needs to be some aspect of blind faith in your approach to decolonizing knowledge.

Ultimately the way you approach decolonizing knowledge needs to be personal. One idea of decolonizing knowledge is that systems, including the hierarchical passing down of tools and theories, need to be analyzed and decolonized. Whichever way you end up going about it, I wish you the best of luck. And of course, if you’ve never been in love, but want to be, I wish you luck with that as well.

Different means Different, Different does not mean WRONG

Our education system and social brought up have taught us one thing “We are the best, we are the only people who are RIGHT, everyone else is wrong and we should try our best to put others on the Right Path”.

Teaching this phenomenon to the children and youth is becoming one of the root causes of many issues we are entangled in today. Most of us think in each matter that we are the only one who is right and in fact the best while all other people who are not alike are fools and on the wrong path. With this, we close the windows of our minds and face difficulty in engaging in dialogue in a civilized manner. We are not ready to listen to others because we have already decided that they are wrong and they only purpose of listening to them becomes not understanding their point of view, their perspective but to make a counter-argument which can prove them wrong. No matter, how much evidence is piled up, we have already made up our mind – we are RIGHT and they are wrong!

Often after posting anything on social media with which most people disagree, I feel like either I have put my hand either in a beehive feel surrounded by furious people with guns who are ready to attack me. I don’t see any tolerance or space in this society for people who are not following the norm of society but are different! Here different means being WRONG!

With this ideology integrated, mostly people in our country consider it their basic duty and right to judge others, and then to police them. This judgment and policing ranges from personal matters to public matters, from persons to institutions e.g. it is becoming increasingly common for the TV channels to do search operations either for couples dating, people not fasting, or people involved in prostitution. Such kind of TV programs is a reflection of our social attitude of “Judging and Policing the Morals of others”. Everyone feels themselves as the guard of the morals of the society, to punish others and teach them.
Because we have internalized idea of teaching others the right path so at the moment we think someone is “wrong” or in “trouble” we immediately start giving them suggestions; just have a look on any discussion and most of the comments will be about “you should do this, you should do that, you should not think like this, you should not critique, you should be patient,… etc etc”. Giving suggestions has become our habit though we know that mostly those suggestions are not entertained and when our suggestions are not entertained by others we become furious “See! You were supposed to be in this trouble because you didn’t follow my suggestion”

I think this principle of “self-righteous” has hindered our ability to engage in constructive dialogue with people with whom we disagree, and as I said most people construct their arguments not to convey their point of view but to put others down. Facing harsh realities make people uncomfortable, they feel like losing the argument, and then try to cover up their loss in an argument with abusive language. I agree with the saying that when someone starts shouting and using abusive language during an argumentation it means they already feel they have lost the argument and to satisfy their ego they try to put down others by using abusive language.

Another reason for this attitude can be traced to the fact that we teach “debate” to children instead of “dialogue”- and the principal of debate is “In any argument, one is a winner and the other is a loser”. We need to promote dialogue as a way of communication because the dialogue is based on the principle of “both of us have parts of the answer to the question; no one is completely wrong, and no one is completely right”. We also need to learn as a society that, different means different, different does not mean WRONG

A Candle in the Dark

By: Sarah Inskeep

One of the biggest challenges for me in thinking about the work I want to take part in as a peacebuilder is figuring out what my long-term goals are. I tend to seek to a broad conceptual understanding of things before diving into the details, and I like to have a clear idea of what it is I’m working toward, with points marked to measure my progress. In working for peace, however, it’s difficult to determine conceptually what a peaceful world would look like because peace could never be a static state. That being the case, it’s difficult to know what kinds of goals are realistic to strive for in a single lifetime.

The ultimate goal, of course, is a peaceful world. By that, I don’t mean a world without conflict — for, as a friend always says, “Conflict is an invitation to start a conversation, and that’s a beautiful thing.” What I mean, what I seek, is a nonkilling world, a nonviolent world. Yes, life requires life, but it does not require the extent of preventable sufferings that exist in the way we presently live. Surely, something better is possible.

It’s strange to think that this world I seek is one I will probably never see. Knowing this, it’s difficult for me to say exactly what I want to accomplish while I am here. What is reasonable? Is reasonable even the right word? I do not want to end up settling for something less than I might be capable of and yet, at once, worry that I will never feel I’ve done enough.

These are the thoughts on my mind as I reflect on our closing discussion this evening, about the future of our field. It’s easy, thinking about these things, to drift into a very solemn state. This time, though, I find I am reminded of a gift from one of my professors last semester: a single candle.

Why am I thinking of that candle now? Because it seems to me that so many of the stories I’ve heard these past few weeks – from our visitors, from my fellow students, from Pushpa – were stories that exhibit the ability of a even a single candle to illuminate the darkness. They were stories that remind me of the preciousness of the the time we have to share with those around us, and of the courage it takes to live in an honest way.

Often in the past I have felt shy to talk about peace for fear of being called an idealist, and shy to talk about conflict issues for fear of accidentally angering someone. Now, though? Now, I want to try to do differently. Though I still value careful consideration, I want to ensure I am no longer just waiting for someone else to give the signal. I don’t know for sure how it’ll all turn out, and there are still so very many uncertainties, but I no longer want to shy away from them. Instead, I want to stay with them as long as I can, to use my time here to shine what light I can on the world around me, because I have seen what things have been done and created by others who decided to do the same.

“All you can do is your best,” another friend once told me. Whenever I feel like it’s impossible for me to do enough, I remember those words. Then, I look around at all of those who are doing their best, too — and suddenly, the darkness does not seem so vast.

The delight of building peace?
Like fishing, it is the pursuit of what is elusive,
but attainable,
a perpetual series of occasions for hope.

– From John Paul Lederach’s ‘Building Peace’ –

A Reflection on the Police Department

By Magdalena Castillo

The Salinas police officers were generous enough to give their time towards answering a crowd’s questions about their experience as police officers, quite possibly the most controversial career in today’s divided and violent world. A daunting task, as I’m sure they knew coming into it, as police officers and peace can be seen as somewhat contradictory, at least in my mind. 

One of the first things brought up was the recent shooting at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California. It was a fresh wound, and it stung to hear it talked about so soon after the tragedy. My mind traveled to a warm summer day and I felt pain–simulated pain, as I know I could never know what it feels like to lose someone in such a horrifying way–for the victims, for their families, and for bystanders who witnessed it. What I didn’t even think about was how hard it was for the officers themselves, not only at this festival, but in countless other acts of violence that they have to be involved in. Several of the officers–if not all of them–said that one of the hardest parts of their job is seeing what the victims and their families go through. They mentioned that they’ve seen a lot of trauma in their lifetime and that sometimes they feel pain when families are torn apart or when people die that is often too much to bear. 

I felt an immediate sense of shame on my part. I, justifiably, was so disappointed in what I believe to be an unjust and sometimes institutionally racist system that I detached myself from the fact that police officers are humans too. Their compassion for suffering for people in their community shined through their tough demeanor. Their humor lightened the mood in an otherwise tense environment. Their pain was confirmed when they wished that mental health and self care was focused on more for police officers. 

It’s important for me to say that a lot of my concerns about the police were confirmed. I still have questions about the things they said and I still feel slightly uncomfortable with some of the tactics used, etc. It’s equally important for me to say that I also agree with a lot of the things the police said, and I realize that while I still think there is A LOT of work to be done, they are humans, and humans are imperfect. If the general population wants to see change with our officers, we can only do so if we understand their side of the story. We can only do so if we care about addressing institutional racism before we attack the individuals who use it as a weapon without necessarily knowing. We need to help make mental health awareness a priority in their department so that they are able to be healthy and do their job even better. 

Interpreter

By Magdalena Castillo

Being the only fluent one out of my siblings is all fun and games until they depend on you 24/7. I remember being a young teenager, no older than 14, when I had just locked the door to the bathroom at our rental late at night. Right as I was about to brush my teeth and get ready for bed after an exhausting day, my sister bangs on the door, begging me to help her communicate with my little cousin who was still over. I was annoyed, but nevertheless unlocked the door to help her our. He was asking her if she would jump back in the pool with him in Spanish. I told her what he had asked and she told me to tell him that she didn’t want to. That’s all she told me to say, not for any reason, just that she didn’t want to. I was too tired to realize that it’d be better to come up with a better explanation, considering we had just arrived in the Dominican Republic and my family was excited to see us–just not wanting to could be taken as rude. My little cousin politely said okay, but I could hear it in his voice that he didn’t understand and was slightly hurt. 

This was one of the times I played the role of interpreter in my life, interpreting both english to spanish and spanish to english. I never really thought about that moment until Wednesday night when (insert their names here) came in and did a lesson on interpretation. It made me think deeply about the role we play as not only interpreters, but as storytellers, and it made me value the idea of emotional intelligence a lot more. That night, I should’ve noticed the tone and excitement in my cousin’s voice and made up an excuse that made it sound like it wasn’t personal that my sister didn’t want to go back in the pool. Or would an excuse be countered with a solution and lead to my sister going back in the pool when she didn’t want to? I learned that interpreters are not only interpreting, but exchanging ideas and telling stories, and sometimes have to be peacekeepers themselves.

A Woman’s Place in Peacebuilding

By Magdalena Castillo

I was elected to be the president of the first all-female officer team in my high school’s history during my senior year. It was not only a huge honor, but an amazing opportunity that I did not take lightly. Even at the high school level, there were so many things I wanted to accomplish and so many groups I wanted to reach. I didn’t think it would be a difficult task in terms of getting done what our officer team, by popular demand, wanted to get done. We had all been in Student Government holding several roles (mine being representative one year and treasurer the next, along with other micro roles) and the people trusted us…didn’t they? 

Wrong.

Some people did. Some people were thrilled to see we were listening to the high school’s concerns and addressing them promptly. Many people were impressed with our ideas and dedication. But others were skeptical. I thought the others that would be skeptical would be the general student population only, but the people with the loudest opposition of our “administration”, if you will, were the male members of our very own student government class. 

They made it impossible for us to get things done. They would argue at ideas that we brought up but weren’t ours, ideas that they very well knew the student population had suggested. They would call me things like “sassy” and “aggressive” when I would politely ask them to focus during class instead of goofing off. The same boys I loved and had worked with smoothly in the past, male-dominated officer teams were pulling me and us down. 

When we chose to follow through with things despite their reprimand, we risked having fractured relationships afterwards but when we decided to do things the way they were always done, we risked not doing our duty as the very students who put on every program, who raised all the money, and whose job it is to represent the school. I was frustrated because I thought that just having a female officer team was enough. But as Sheherazade said, women are not additive, they are integral, and that year, we were just an additive. 

We had not changed the macho culture of Student Government that was present at our school. It didn’t matter how many women were added to the officer team, we were still unable to move exactly how we wanted to move because of it. While that year I learned valuable lessons and we did make great impacts that year, I still struggle to this day with authority roles like that considering it can be applied to this field that I am interested in. As we saw through Sheherazade’s activity, as a woman in this field, I won’t be able to work the same way men work, but I learned there can be some benefits to that too.

why we are celebrating independence day?

This year will mark the Pakistani nation’s 70th year of independence. Even though we are only a mere seven decades removed from Jinnah’s pluralistic promise, today’s Pakistan is less like Jinnah’s Pakistan and more akin to an imaginary novel in which the nation’s people make a collective wrong turn winding up in a terrifying, alternate dimension. And then chaos ensues. Nearly 70 years in and Pakistan no longer bleeds green. Now she bleeds red. And she bleeds a lot. Nearly 70 years in the currency that weighs heavy in the pockets of the corrupt, ruling elite is no longer green. Dishonesty and greed have turned the greenest of our bills into black money.
Green, the shade of our flag, symbolic of cleanliness and purity, is no longer our national color. Our reckless disregard for the environment has turned our streets dirt brown and tainted our drinking water a colorful, toxic medley of contaminated filth. The state’s religion Islam – the green deen ­– is no longer a recognizable shade of green. Our failure to protect our minorities and other vulnerable members of our society has turned our green of peace into a darker, bloodier, and muddier color too far removed on the color wheel from the essence of Islam. Can we truly then celebrate today as an independent nation?
On paper, yes. Or so our constitution says. But the lived lives of the people of Pakistan tell a different story. A story that reads like a grocery list of defunct isms. A story featuring characters named nepotism, feudalism, fanaticism, Islamism, extremism, classism, ethnocentrism, sexism with a going-nowhere plot about a fledgling nation’s fast-paced journey towards apocalypticism.

Independence as an adjective has several definitions. It is the condition of not being influenced or controlled by others in a matter of opinion and conduct. It is to be autonomous and not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction. It is not having to rely on others for aid or support. It is to possess competency. Nearly 70 years on Sunday and we continue to miss the mark on every sub-definition of independence: First off, we cannot truly believe we are independent and free from the influence and control of others. Our religious clerics whose every word and instruction weighs heavy on our hearts and minds distort and manipulate our emotions and opinions through a multitude of mediums. A rogue televangelist tells us to kill in the name of religion and we are quick to respond – not with a why but instead, how? Like a flock of sheep, we are led blindly by religious zealots and elected leaders who stuff us with hateful vitriol daily. This keeps us mute and sedated, with our moral and social growth suppressed, and our hearts and minds tainted with the patina of bitterness towards all things different be it religion, caste, gender or socioeconomic status.
Secondly, we cannot truly believe we possess autonomy when our physical jurisdiction is consistently compromised. The basic first principle of international law which calls for each state to be its own sovereign in-charge is a legal tenet that always eludes and excludes us. Today, Pakistan’s jurisdiction is routinely violated by other countries with self-serving agendas and armed extremists.
We retreat further and further from being an autonomous state as we continue to flail in global debt. When it comes to the global allies we like to keep, we seem to always be stuck between a rock and a hard place with certain global superpowers acting as the proverbial rock and certain neighboring Islamic countries the wall to our proverbial hard place.

Lastly, we must accept we repeatedly fail in the basics of human competency and sometimes even basic human decency. Honor killings, domestic violence, acid attacks, child molestation, and forced prostitution are just a few of the symptoms of the quiet, lethal disease-causing our spiritual and physical decay.

This is why, despite our having reached our 70th year of freedom, we continue to cling to the most arcane and profane practices in a state of almost-stupid dependence. Being a prepubescent school-going girl means you could have your brains blown out by grown men whose biggest fear is apparently the idea of a little girl with a blog and some thoughts. Being Christian means your neighbors can avenge their petty neighborhood disputes by invoking the almighty blasphemy laws against you for which, if found guilty, your penalty is to become part of world’s second-largest death row population.

I quoting American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin – if it is a society of peace we desire, we cannot achieve it through violence. And if it is an indiscriminate society we desire then we cannot discriminate against anyone in the progress of building this society. And if it is a democratic society we wish to maintain, then it is itself democracy which must become both our means as well as our end.

A Moral Dilemma

By Magdalena Castillo

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to see Hamilton for the second time. It was equally as incredible as the first time, and since I already knew the lyrics to the songs and the story, I was able to approach this experience in a slightly different way. Instead of just hearing the lyrics, I understood them and thought about what they meant in the grand scheme of things. There was one part of the play in particular that I never really thought much about, but can’t stop thinking about it now: cheating. 

Alexander Hamilton in the play (and the movie) is an inspirational leader of the people, a military commander, an economist, and so much more. On Broadway he is portrayed as a complicated American hero who made massive strides in American history. Impressive man he may be, but he wasn’t a good husband–unfaithful since the very beginning. Watching this again, I battled with the idea that while he was a good leader, he was a terrible husband. Alexander wasn’t the only one who was like this. 

Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi: three of the most famous men in history, known for making positive change and building peace in their communities. Ghandi was accused of exploiting young women but was a civil right’s leader. Nelson Mandela led his country from apartheid to a diverse democracy, had an affair before he married his famous Winnie. Martin Luther King Jr. was also a civil right’s leader but has allegedly had multiple affairs during his marriage as well. They were disloyal or in some ways (in the traditional sense) uncommitted family members, but their commitment to their country and their community is unparallelled. 

So what does this mean for a peacebuilder? Does it mean anything at all? For all I know, I could be applying just four men’s stories to all peacebuilders’ lives and grossly misrepresenting them. But I feel like there has to be some truth to it. To be a peacebuilder, to me, means that you have to make choices and prioritize things. You can’t be selfish and don’t have time or energy to focus on the “small” things like family. These men had a country to take care of, a country that needed all their time and energy and so how could they prioritize being good partners…how could that be justified when that takes time, time that could be spent on making sustainable change on a larger scale?  

Peacebuilding, as one of my classmates this summer put it, is not a romantic career. You aren’t perfect and pure, you make mistakes, and you must sometimes abandon things that you love if it means getting the job done. At the end of the play, I can’t say that I made up my mind whether I should hate Hamilton for being unfaithful or if I should still love him for helping this country grow. All I felt comfortable saying leaving that auditorium was that peacebuilding or conflict resolution or just making decisions on behalf of the larger population is hard, but if you do it with all the passion in your body, you’re legacy will live on through the well-being and stories of the people. 

Naming and Framing

By: Óscar Cejudo Corbalán

In one of the sessions with Qamar Houda, we were asked to develop a peace curriculum for a high school context that each group was in charge to decide. The group I worked with decided to develop it for a high school in Charlottesville. When discussing about the strategy, I came up with the possibility of splitting the program in three phases: Tolerance, Understanding, and Trust. The idea was to work from the personal level to the relational one.

As discussed during Laurie Patton’s session, I agree that tolerance seems to be the very first step (before even starting to understand) in order for any type of relationship to happen. It could be explain as the willingness of sitting in the same room, willing to at least listen to the other party.

However, Megan Salmon (who was part of the team I was working with) pointed out that the word tolerance has a strong implication/connotation in Charlottesville: white (fragile) parents will immediately get defensive accusing the program to be targeting mainly their kids. It was such an important and insightful information! The change in terms of what we wanted to achieve was minimal (we called it Understanding-Trust-Transformation) but the rephrasing of that word was so significant.

This links to one of my takeaways of this week: naming and framing. We explored in Madhawa Palihapitiya the importance of being strategic, sensitive, and accurate in the way we name and frame initiatives or programmes. As third parties, it is fundamental not only to have a clear idea of what we want to do, but also how to present this to others. A wrong name or a wrong frame can block or destroy mediations or negotiations.

Let’s reflect this concept back to myself and how do I frame peacebuilding. I feel it is important to understand what I understand by peacebuilding, or at least what do I want to achieve by being in this field (what is my framework of action.) I think I know the answer to this one: If the naming is peacebuilding, my framing is social justice (maybe that is the general framing form peacebuilding, I do not know, I do not want to assume so.)

And then I could go one step forward and question what meaning I give to social justice, which is a much longer answer. In short (and for now, because is constantly evolving since I am constantly learning), it is about the fight for equity through the dismantling of the structures of oppressions that surround us.

The implications of these framings are constantly formulating questions on my role and approach in the field. It is a constant fight for balance between conflict sensitivity and activism. The dilemmas and struggles will always be there, otherwise there would not probably be any transformation.

By a conscious naming and framing of not only programmes but also our careers, actions and so on, we could get to a deeper understanding of our motivations and ourselves – an important first step in peacebuilding.