Community Development Life Musings Peacebuilding

Peacebuilding Thoughts

“I just want to be able to provide for myself and my family, and be able to give back to my community.”

The young woman looked at the group of young people surrounding her. They nodded, understanding.

It is hard to provide for your family when you don’t have a job because you can’t get back to your neighborhood when your shift is over.

It is hard to provide for yourself if you have to shut down your business because the local gangs are asking for a “war tax.”

It is hard to provide for your family when you lose your job after the store that hired you goes out of business because of the riots related to the recent election scandal.

It is hard to provide for your family when your little siblings spill your materials for making shoes all over the floor because you don’t have the money to rent a workspace.

The struggles that face young people in my neighborhood are many. It is hard for them to get and keep a job. It is even harder to begin a business. It takes courage and huge effort in the face of overwhelming challenges.

So when they tell us that they want to begin a project, we listen.

Peacebuilding is so often like planting crops. A missionary who has a sustainable farm in a rural part of Honduras told me that farmers should be called “micro-organism shepherd,” because that’s the real power behind the magic of growing crops. Micro-organisms in the soil are the real farmers. They are doing all the work of providing the plants with all the right conditions to survive. A farmer’s job is to pay attention to and care for the soil; keep the micro-organisms healthy, and the crops will be able to thrive.

In a sense, peacebuilding and community development work is like this. It is not something we can force on a community, nor can we take credit when everything goes well. Peacebuilding is so much more complex than we can ever imagine.

Like paying attention to the needs of the powerfully influential micro-organisms in the soil, it is important to find the people in each community who contribute in a positive way to the community’s development. The leaders we work with, young people who have their own dreams and goals, are already actively involved in seeking peace and justice in their communities.

The best thing I can do in order to help the community is to support them as individuals – seek to create with them a safety net that will give them the time, energy, and resources to give of themselves to their community.

That is the vision of all the peacebuilding work of RedEd and From Honduras with Love. I want to keep listening and keep working to support leaders who seek peace and justice for those around them.