Table of Contents
2013 • Meet the Philippines Team
Six Stories of AVP Journeys
Hello friends … my name is Ninok , I am 36 years old. I live in Pati, Central Java . The first time I heard about AVP was from my husband Bowo, who was part of the first training in Yogyakarta in 2007. My AVP training started in July of 2011 in Pati. After that I routinely followed AVP training with friends in Pati and with Nadine when she came to Indonesia.
At first I was confused when my husband told me about AVP and suggested that I should do this because he said it was a good training for development of myself. This turned out to be true and the AVP training brought a realization that there was a lot of violence going on around me. I discovered that to live without violence, I have to be strong to fight against violence and for that I have to know the way of nonviolence.
Slowly but surely, change occurred within myself. I feel the development myself … at first I was shy and afraid to speak in front of people. Now I know the basic rules of “daring to speak without fear of being wrong”. I am more calm when talking also in front of people when I have an opinion because it gives input and is also one of the guiding principles of AVP.
Self development also occurred in my relationship with my two daughters. Currently my husband is working in Aceh and I have a heavy burden of responsibility in bringing up my daughters. Before I knew AVP, I was often angry and yelled at my kids and I unusually felt tired… now after I know about AVP, I feel a lighter load, I can finish housework well and I can accompany children with love. My children are happier and it also feels so good when I’m with the kids at the early childhood centre in Joglo… all feels lighter and beautiful.
I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a member of society, an early childhood teacher…. a lot of my work and duties is close to all the violence… and to live without violence we need to be strong against the violence.
Peace and love
I have been a Quaker for 38 years and have been really supported by my Meetings and my Quaker work for peace during this time. AVP taught me the closely personal way to approach my own feelings, to grow in confidence, to communicate more effectively- using positive language that leads to healing and growth in myself and others around me.
AVP was brought to Australia and New Zealand by Stephen Angell and I enjoyed learning from him, especially his gentleness and yet he said that he never came out of an AVP workshop, without discovering even more the violence that was inside him. Another early leader was Elaine Dyer, who gave up her employment to help spread AVP- to train both community and prison facilitators in both NZ and Australia. She taught me that I often hid behind language such as “we”, when I needed to be clearer in only referring to myself as “I”. I then assumed greater responsibility for all of my words and actions- rather than vaguely saying “Should we do this?”- I hadn’t realised the weakness I was spreading- rather than positive messages, which are a real gift in good communication.
I enrolled in a Master of Peace Studies and when it came time to choose a topic for my dissertation, my lecturer asked if I would consider doing it on AVP. As an academic study I asserted that AVP did make a difference in violent behaviour. I received permission from the Department of Corrective Services to study a group of mainly indigenous men in a long-term gaol. Before starting, I asked them to complete a questionnaire on attitudes to violence.
We then completed the AVP Basic and some months later, the Advanced level. When they completed the same questionnaire on their approach to violence, they had moved significantly as a group. In addition, individual inmates showed greatly reduced violent behaviour, which was commented on by staff. I loved doing this study to see the changes in some of the men, though sadly not in all of them. In addition delving into the philosophy of our whole system of corrections led me to ask deep questions as to our treatment of criminal behaviour and whether there were more just ways than “warehousing” people to learn more effective devious actions- to use on their release.
I continued facilitating mainly in the community in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra for several years. I was overloaded with my main employment and asked for leave- which stretched out to being several years. I was doing other Quaker work with FWCC/AWPS, and often away from home, so could not find time to return to AVP. As soon as I finished this work, I retrained and have been accepted again as a facilitator. I note how much AVP has broadened out during my period of absence. It is a very healthy organisation, in Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and is growing in South Korea, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Singapore, Hong Kong and of course in Africa.
What I noticed on my return is that as I enter into a workshop, I begin to feel lighter, more joyful, which leads me to look at things differently. The play element in our workshops helps. Humans are meant to play- but life often is grindingly like a treadmill, so it’s hard to see how violent this is to my creativity and being helpful to others.
When Bohol Friends asked if they could receive AVP training, I had a sense of the “rightness” of this request. Happily it has fallen into place with excellent facilitators, and I am told there are many participants awaiting our visit. The thing I am most concerned about is that AVP will be ongoing and spread throughout the Philippines; a beautiful country that is in places darkened by extreme poverty corruption and extreme weather events. I know that it will succeed because of the great contribution by Friends Peace Teams and their care and experience over a decade in bringing peace, love and friendship to the places where we visit.
I was an attender at the Quakers in Brisbane when Steve Angell came to talk about workshops in prisons. I saw a Canadian video of a workshop and thought that it would be good to be involved. I always think that if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem.
I drove down to Sydney (about 1000 klms) to do the workshop on the following Friday. Then I did and Advanced workshop the following weekend, followed by a Train the Trainer the next weekend.
On the fourth weekend I was in Moreton B prison facilitating a workshop. I found it an amazing time. Since then I have done workshops in Sydney (the first Advanced and Train the Trainer in NSW.)
I have also helped to set up the youth version HIPP (Help Increase the Peace Program) in Queensland and facilitated workshops in Queensland, in Cessnock Prison in New South Wales and Northern Territory.
I think that being involved in an AVP workshop is a chance to look at and reflect on your life. To visit corners of your psyche that need to be attended and to forgive myself some of my past indiscretions.
I have been to Bohol before and I found it to be a beautiful place, full of beautiful people and this is a chance for me to visit again and bring with me a gift that I have had for the past 20 years.
Blaze Nowra writes: I was introduced to Alternatives to Violence Project in a Communication Ethics course while earning my graduate degree. The professor, Eleanor Novek, mentioned her involvement and invited those who were interested to learn more about it. A few days later I found myself filling out a background check and within a few weeks I was sitting in a circle at a workshop inside the Garden State Youth Correctional Facility.
It was my first time inside a prison. I was nervous. Like many other Americans, my only exposure to prison was what the mass media had fed me on TV and in Hollywood movies. Prisons are scary places filled with mean, angry, bad people. This perception couldn’t have been more wrong. In the following three days I was blown away by the intelligence, kindness and honesty demonstrated throughout the workshop. I learned just how much I had in common with everyone in the circle. Prisoners are people. This naive realization is what has brought me back to GSYCF dozens of times as a participant, facilitator, filmmaker and friend.
In 2011, I produced a short film illustrating the humanity behind bars and the effectiveness of AVP in the United States. I have recently filmed AVP workshops in Nepal and Indonesia in order to promote the benefits of AVP in other parts of the world. I am excited to add Philippines to the list and looking forward to joining the Bohol team!
My name is Nanik. I live in Pati, Central Java, a regency town in Semarang Province, Indonesia. I was a volunteer teacher from 2017-2011. Many violent events happened at school, by both teachers and students. Teachers have authority and are expected to be smarter than students. The students must keep silence to listen complete tasks. Those who didn’t do tasks were punished, as a Teacher seldom sought out the cause of the problem. After the time of teaching teachers went home, as if the duty is finished. One day when it was break time, there were several students fighting which continued outside of school. No teachers were aware of this. Rarely teachers were concerned with violence at school. They assumed it was something trivial between the students and that was reasonable and ordinary.
In 2008 I learned AVP and carried more burden of my school situation but I couldn’t do anything. I tried practicing AVP through games such as engaging students. I taught no put downs of self or the others, even in joking and I spoke slowly. But when the teachers are not a team to solve together, it means it was in vain. I felt alone and tired.
Then I tried to develop an alternative approach education as the spirit of learning and accompaniment with the hope that many people could learn to get out of their habitual lives of violence at LKP “To Be Smart” with friends’ of alumnus IKIP PGRI. They are volunteer teachers of Elementary School, who have a lot work but are not paid. Their hope is to be Civil Servants so they have to dedicate at least 5 years of service.
After learning AVP, I felt AVP is more appropriate accompaniment. Then I began weaving relationships with my Muslim friends in Tondomulyo. Actually AVP is more helpful for accompaniment. In 2010, I made a commitment to build a training center. The majority of participants were preschool teachers in surrounding Pati. Finally I taught how to combine AVP and accompaniment. In 2011 we decided to build Joglo Preschool with the hope that many people could see and learn an alternative approach to education, grounded in the Alternatives to Violent Project.
At Joglo, the children are learning role play, in all of their activities. There was one student of Joglo preschool, named Dava. He was renowned as a rogue because liked teasing to make his friends cry. He had studied at other preschools but had been just a week at Joglo. Following AVP, the change of his habits were seen by the neighborhood. Now Dava always looks after his friends and helps to reconcile his friends when they fight. One day his neighbor, named Tirsa, who is a mother, tried to know where Dava studied. Tirsa met me to ask about Joglo’s preschool accompaniment’s method. Finally she joined an AVP workshop.
Because of the great contribution by Friends Peace Teams and their care, we are developing an alternative approach to education, grounded in the Alternatives to Violent Project. We provide instructional activities in English for elementary and junior high school students, and continue facilitating parents of Joglo’s students on three hours in six meeting in September, so there are similarities accompanying at school and home. They now recognize is what violence is and non violent behavior. I think that parents are teachers for their kids also. I feel Alternatives to Violence Project is being helpful for others to communicate easily, and the parents spread the word about AVP to their family and neighborhood. It’s amazing when approaching to education, grounded in the Alternatives to Violent Project is started from home.
In love, Nanik
My journey with the Alternatives to Violence Project began with Marjorie, a Friend from my local Quaker worshipping group, telling me about a brief conversation regarding the matter which she had with Valerie Joy at the 2012 Friends World Gathering in Kenya. She said the possibility of bringing it to the Philippines was discussed and that the introductory activity would be a workshop in Bohol. I supported the idea so I did some research and learned about how AVP is a great worldwide movement that has helped strengthen peace processes in a lot of conflict avenues and areas like prisons and war-affected places. After a few conversations with the still small voice, I began to see how much of a need the country has for alternatives to violence. I recognised it as an amazing opportunity to assist the peace efforts in the country.
Months later, after a fruitful exchange of emails with Nadine Hoover and Valerie about the idea of getting first-hand exposure to AVP and its work as a peace building tool of the Friends Peace Teams in Indonesia, I flew to the country to experience the project for myself and to get a feel of how it works. It was utterly life-changing. On several occasions during and after the workshops, I was moved to retreat to my personal space to examine the things that were different about me—how I behaved; how I addressed concerns; the kind of questions I was asking; even the choice of words I used for the musings I had over my daily morning shower—in contrast to how things were back home in the Philippines. As difficult as it was, I came to be conscious of how highly I regarded myself and how much my growth was stagnating by doing so.
The trip allowed me to meet amazing people who have dedicated huge chunks of their time—essentially their lives—to helping peace grow. It was a very humbling experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life. The fact that I was immersed in a culture quite different from my own also helped me break free from a lot of subtle prejudices I didn’t know I held about Indonesian religious culture.
My world was turned up-side-down, in a sense, and that time spent with wonderful people doing wonderful things drove me to go through a very necessary epiphany. I returned to the Philippines almost like a different person. I came back with a big smiling heart—full of joy and hope. I felt empowered knowing that I could help bring to others a way for peace to be spread while gradually and progressively bettering myself in the process—that I could change along with the community/group I work with and that I didn’t need to be saintly or readily close-to-perfect in order to be credible in sharing a message of peace to my fellow seekers.
On the 19th through the 26th of the month of October in 2013, history will be made as another leap towards peace is taken. The first ever Alternatives to Violence Project workshop in the Philippines will be held in the Municipality of Valencia in the Province of Bohol. I look forward to apprenticing as a facilitator and, along with my Friends and friends, becoming a catalyst in cultivating a lasting culture of grassroots community peace building in my locality and beyond.
You’re welcome to apply to join this Peace Team to participate in the workshops; send inquiries to Valerie Joy at AWP@FriendsPeaceTeams.org or Ludwig Bon Quirog at email@example.com.