Over the past year, we have been grateful for your collaboration in our partnership with communities, to support concrete steps toward peace in the Casamance region of Senegal.
Our most significant accomplishment over the past year has been bringing together leaders from 21 villages in the area of the Blouf to formally "call the rebels home" to their communities. Their actions included rituals, traditional song and dance, and community meetings to discuss the peace process. The rebels' spiritual obligations to fight for independence were formally removed by the regional priestess of the sacred forest, assisted by women from villages throughout the area. As a result of that action, rebel fighters were able to lay down their weapons and look ahead to reintegrating into village life. This removed a huge obstacle to peace that was largely invisible in national policy discussions. It was the kind of problem, and the kind of solution, that only becomes visible by listening closely to local communities.
Unlike many of Karuna Center’s other peacebuilding programs, this work in Senegal depends on exactly how much money we receive from individual donors. Once we have raised enough money for a peacebuilding intervention, we develop a collaborative plan of action, and wire the full amount to our Senegalese peacebuilding associate (as a lump sum, to minimize bank fees). Of the $6,356 we have raised so far on GlobalGiving, $5,800 has been sent to Senegal to the work in the Blouf described above, and $556 is now reserved for the next action. All of the money we receive through GlobalGiving goes directly to the work in Senegal; Karuna Center does not take overhead from these initiatives.
Peacebuilding in the Casamance is at a tipping point due to the current ceasefire. Our Senegalese peacebuilding associate, Joachim Diene, has been gathering information about community concerns in areas hard-hit by the conflict. We are also exploring opportunities to support community advocacy with specific national policymakers – so that even a very small amount of money to support community members’transportation costs could have a strategic impact on moving the peaceprocess forward. Our commitment is to make sure that the needs and wisdom of the communities caught in the crossfire remain at the center of the peace process.
We will keep updating our project as the political context, needs, and opportunities change! If you would like to be part of our planning, or would like to be kept more closely in the loop on our program planning and fundraising process, we would love to hear from you.
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