It is interactive and experiential, assuming the knowledge already present in the room. The name, Partera, is Spanish for ‘midwife’. It is a reference – not to the delivery of babies! – but to the role of the facilitator as companion, responsible for creating the conditions or container within which people labour together to bring to birth the future for which they yearn. ‘You are pregnant,’ we say; ‘The DNA of what issues from this process belongs to you, yours to name, nurture and bring to maturity.’
To work in a post-colonial world, we bring a critical work-in-progress consciousness of white privilege and the damaging effects of white supremacy on the way the world does politics, economics, religion and social relationships. We claim no special knowledge of the route to nonviolent solutions to conflict but offer a set of tools designed to elicit the wisdom and story that has been gestating within since forever. It is about asking the right questions, leaving nothing not up for interrogation through the dual lenses of what makes for peace? and what drives violence?
We do not do income-generation or micro-financing or funding for bricks-and-mortar; we focus on the prerequisite of peace for economies to flourish, laying the groundwork to a return to the fields, the ploughs, the forests, the schools, offices and assembly lines. What we do is help people prepare for difficult conversations between belligerent neighbours through exercises that surface self- and other-awareness and a profound appreciation of the gifts of inter-religious, inter-communal diversity. We work specifically on issues related to race, gender, clan and tribe; we examine the historical timeline that precedes the situation in which they find themselves; we put on the lenses of economic literacy in order to see more clearly the economic roots of violence, the effects of chronic maldistribution of wealth and power. We consider alternative models of masculinity; we search for ways to surface and centre the power, voice and needs of women – grounded in a conviction that women occupy the heart of peace.
We take religion seriously, but we are not proselytisers of a particular faith tradition. As we lay out in our document, ‘Partera & Religion’.
In a world in which religion is often seen as, at worst, the root cause of violence, at best, a driving, escalating force; in a world in which the vast majority of humankind claims some allegiance to or association with a faith tradition – in this world in which we work at peacemaking, it is critical that we pay attention to religion. To do otherwise is to remove from our toolbox a tool that has the potential to add immeasurably to the strength and resilience of peacemaking communities of practice. To enter into trainings with people of profound, ancient and diverse faith traditions without a consciousness and knowledge of that aspect of their being and its expression in cultic, linguistic, social, cultural and even political norms and practices would debilitate the training, strain our credibility and compromise the results.