(A field report by Salome Haldemann)
These last weeks we have kept bumping into Central Mindanao University (CMU). Our Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Team in Bukidnon has been working with them for a while now, and helped them build a good relationship with the Talaandig people. PBCI Davao met Dr. Maria Luisa R. Soliven (CMU President) and her team at the Talaandig-CMU reconciliation ritual, and we met them again a week later at the Mindanao Social Business Summit. After many discussions about peace building and conflict resolution, Dr. Soliven invited us to come to Maramag and provide PAR training for the senior officers of the University. They felt a strong need for it, as CMU has been involved in land disputes for about as long as they existed.
So Dann, Joji, Kriz and yours truly peacebuilded up for a trip to Maramag. We were moved by the university’s generosity: on Friday they sent a driver and his van to pick us up, they graciously invited us to stay at the CMU hotel, provided for our meals… On Saturday we met for what we thought would be PAR orientation. Dann explained the major concepts of PAR to Pres. Soliven and the senior staff members. In the course of discussion, the focus changed: it became clear to the board that being trained in PAR might not be the best solution in their current conflicts and that they needed external help.
They told us of the history of CMU, of the various land disputes, of the difficulty that they had to dialogue to find a good solution, of the both sides feeling that they are not listened to. And they asked us to become mediators in that conflict.
Being mediators mean that we will not be on their side, but that our loyalty will go to peace, justice, truth and mercy. Pres. Soliven and the senior members agreed: they want a social approach that values the human factor, a solution where everybody wins. Besides, we cannot be mediators if it is the wish of one party only. Our next move is to meet the settlers who claim the land, talk with them and let them decide whether we will mediate or not. This is the beginning of an exciting adventure, and we pray to be instruments of God’s peace in those land disputes.
Salome Haldemann firstname.lastname@example.org
Salome is our intern from Eglise Evangélique Mennonite de Strasbourg, France. She has been a scout chief for the last 5 years that helped her gain solid common sense and resourcefulness. As an occupational therapist by profession, she has a very good knowledge of human health. She is currently in the stage of her journey when she’s developing “a strong interest for the meaning of a radical discipleship,” and she’s realizing that “there is nothing more revolutionary than building true peace.”