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Seven Steps towards Reconciliation

Members of opposing groups in conflict should practise this exercise with the guidance of trained and experienced facilitators. Before implementing this exercise, it is vital for the facilitators to conduct trust-building exercises and establish clear channels of communication within the group in order to create a positive group dynamic and a safe, neutral environment. Also, in an effort to create a positive group dynamic, the facilitators should guide the group in a discussion of individual participant expectations, create ground rules and train the individuals on how to use non-violent communication skills throughout the exercise. This tool should be implemented towards the end of a multi-day workshop after participants have had the opportunity to successfully complete a number of activities together and build relationships with each other. During a multi-day workshop, all individuals should have the opportunity to share traumatic experiences and their fears and concerns with one another, thus allowing individuals to begin to re-humanize members of opposing groups.

Below is a step-by-step guide detailing how experienced facilitators can implement this exercise. Please note that this tool can be adapted to address the specific needs of any group.

  • 1. Before the exercise starts, the facilitator(s) should create a life-size “Cycles of Revenge and Reconciliation” (also known as “Seven Steps towards Reconciliation”) model on the workshop floor. The steps of each cycle are explained in the theory section below.
  • 2. The facilitator(s) should then pass out visual materials presenting the “Cycles of Revenge and Reconciliation” and should explain the purpose of the model as a means of addressing individual-level trauma and breaking cycles of violence.
  • 3. The facilitator(s) should then present a narrative (if possible, a personal narrative from their own life) that demonstrates movement through the stages of trauma, revenge, and reconciliation resulting in personal healing and transformation.
  • 4. The facilitator(s) should then ask the participants to take a few minutes to think about a personal conflict or trauma that burdens them.
  • 5. The facilitator(s) should then ask the participants to place themselves at the stage within the life-size model that most closely reflects where they are in dealing with their trauma or conflict.
  • 6. Once all participants have placed themselves within the life-size model, the facilitator(s) should ask all participants to share their trauma and their position within the model. The facilitator(s) should make clear that those who do not feel comfortable speaking about their trauma do not have to.
  • 7. Next, the facilitator(s) should ask the participants to think about what stage in the model they would like their trauma or conflict to move towards in the future.
  • 8. The participants should now place themselves at this stage within the life-size model.
  • 9. If the participants choose, they may now share about their hopes for transforming their trauma or conflict in the future.
  • 10. Following the exercise, the facilitator(s) should gauge the group’s emotional state and ask appropriate debrief questions. Examples of some debrief questions are:
    - a. How was this exercise for you?
    - b. How do you feel after sharing your trauma?
    - c. How can you use this exercise as a peacebuilding tool?
    - d. How can you use this exercise in your personal life?
  • 11. The facilitator(s) should conclude the exercise by thanking all of the participants and encouraging them to take care of themselves and their emotions after they leave the workshop room.