Savadogo Pingdewinde Michel, is from Burkina Faso and a priest of the Society of African Missions-Gulf of Guinea District in Formation (SMA-DFGG), since 2008. He worked in northern Nigeria as a parish priest for three years (2008-2011) in Bauchi diocese, and was involved in conflict resolution and inter-religious dialogue, in the Christian/Muslim conflict. After Nigeria, he worked in the SMA seminary of philosophy in Lomé (Togo) for three years (2011-2014). He holds a Masters in Sciences of Education and Formation specializing in Conception, Management and Evaluation of education projects, policies and curriculum in developing countries; a BA in Philosophy, a BA in Theology; a Certificate in psycho-spiritual counseling and growth facilitation (group and individual); a Certificate in youth guidance and counseling. He has been in Nairobi since January 2016 acquiring organizational and peacebuilding skills with SCCRR to enable setting up similar structures to address conflict in West Africa.
By Fr. Michel Savadogo Pingdewinde
Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation is the third priority of the SMA Gulf of Guinea District-in-Formation (SMA-DFGG). Appointed to implement this mission, I was sent for nine months experience with Shalom Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation, because of its marvelous peace building activities in Kenya.
In fact, in the fast globalizing conflict generating society, in most West African countries, relationships are wounded because of political and structural injustices. Many are the people thirsting for lasting positive peace and integral development. This thirst will be quenched with a just development of human resources. Track two conflict managers (religious associations, NGOs …) have always been challenged to attend to the needs of marginalized people in conflict and post-conflict areas. Conflict/Peace workers need to attend to them with analytical skills and peacebuilding techniques. To do this it is essential that people are qualified, prepared to immerse themselves in the conflict environments and have passion for the wellbeing of the afflicted. Shalom is doing this day in, day out in Eastern Africa.
We have found in SCCRR, a visionary response to peacebuilding in the present world. Its originality resides in moving from “liberal peace” to “Holistic Restoration of Right Relationships” which entails reconciliation with Self, God, Neighbor and Environment. Shalom is quite unique in the manner it is bridging authentic positive peace with sustainable development. Empowerment of human resources is one of its key priorities.
Justice and positive Peace for sustainable development are the preoccupations of most people in West Africa. Nevertheless, interventions in this area have not always been successful. The reasons include lack of analytical skills and peacebuilding techniques. I am strengthening those skills and techniques at Shalom, in order to set up a Peacebuilding center in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), to empower local communities to experience and promote sustained justice, peace and development.
The process of capacity strengthening will be done through training of leaders and key opinion shapers with the needed skills and techniques to manage conflicts holistically, for sustainable peace to prevail. It is a strong belief of SCCRR that without endurable peace, there will be no sustainable development at personal (physical, psychological, spiritual) and social levels. This vision has inspired the World Bank in Kenya, to initiate a process of conferring with Shalom in order to be conflict-sensitive in its developmental projects.
Many are the NGOs working to treat symptoms of conflicts in West Africa, but very few are working genuinely at the grassroots level to transform conflicts from their underlying causes through activities driven by the fundamental needs of the people. With my experience at SCCRR I am prepared to make people agents of their self-actualization, through their full involvement in their process. Shalom is about empowering people to be the architects of their own interdependent future. Without exaggeration, SCCRR is a special contribution to the people of Africa, at a time where it is mostly needed.