Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service trainer Veronica Pelicaric has led a series of nonviolence workshops this year for a budding peace center in Trinidad and Tobago.
The new center, founded by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, a Catholic women’s congregation based in Wisconsin and active in this island nation, contracted with Pace e Bene to lead an introductory workshop May 22-24, followed by a Training for Trainers over two weekends this fall, October 17-18 and 24-26. The community is seeking to ground its new peacebuilding venture in the vision and methods of active and spiritually grounded nonviolence, and invited Pace e Bene to help them do this.
Pelicaric, Pace e Bene’s director of international programs, has led trainings for over a decade in Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Mexico and her homeland of Argentina, as well as throughout North America.
The Trinidad and Tobago workshop participants, including Catholic sisters and lay men and women, used the word “life changing” repeatedly in their evaluations of the overall program, with many stressing that it contributed to their own personal growth in significant ways.
Rooted in this enthusiasm, most of them enrolled in the October facilitator training that would qualify them to lead Pace e Bene workshops. About this recently concluded training, Pelicaric reports “by the fourth day most of the participants proved to be outstanding facilitators as they increasingly became subjects of their own learning. They presented different scenarios with much creativity and self-assurance.”
This training coincided serendipitously with a struggle for change currently underway in Trinidad-Tobago. A nonviolent campaign has sprung up to reroute the building of a highway in the southern part of the island, which will devastate fauna and flora of the region, and to stop corruption associated with this project. As part of this effort, Trinidadian Dr. Wayne Kublalsingh has undertaken a forty-day fast, which made headlines every day the training was taking place. Two young women who attended the Pace e Bene workshop are part of a youth movement entitled “Project 40″ supporting this campaign, and now feel inspired to ask other activists to join with them in studying Pace e Bene’s Engage: Exploring Nonviolent Living book in a systematic and organized way in order to strengthen their movement for change in the country.
Going forward, the training graduates will be studying Pace e Bene’s curriculum in depth, creating additional material relevant to their context, and using it as a platform for their new peace center. “My wish is that other groups become as inspired as them and follow their example,” Pelicaric says. “It is my belief that this training will grow deep roots in Trinidad-Tobago and bring forth a tree yielding much fruit.”