Peacbuilding for Social Harmony
A VMLR participating in Education option performing
his talent in a street drama
As part of UN Interagency Rehabilitation Programme (UNIRP), UNICEF, working with
the Children Associated with Arms Forces and Armed Groups (CAAFAG) Working Group
has developed peacebuilding activities as another innovative area of support to
assist Verified Minors and Late Recruits (VMLRs) reintegrate into the community.
Peacebuilding events are promoted to enhance trust and establish strong community
links. The initiative provides a platform to VMLRs and community youth to engage
in positive ways to support the rehabilitation process and ensure the smooth transition
to civilian life.
An emphasis on life skills and reconciliation activities facilitate the process
with many community-based integration and thought-provoking activities designed
to stir up debate and discussion amongst the participants and wider community.
For the community to support and facilitate the reintegration of returning of VMLRs,
it is important that they are fully aware of their role in supporting the process.The
community’s perception of the VMLRs living together in cantonments outside the bounds
of traditional society is a barrier to their smooth reintegration. As a result,
young girls are more likely to face stigmatisation on their return to the village
and young male VMLR’s with relatively inadequate literacy levels as are often overwhelmed
and find it hard adjust to their new situation.
Local Youth Clubs
The initiative is designed to build on the skills of VMLRs and local youth in order
to engage in active debate and dialogue to promote cooperation and understanding.
Together they gain knowledge of applied experiential learning skills and how to
facilitate outdoor leadership camps for team building and trust-building activities.
They engage in dialogue with each other on issues of common concern to build supportive
peer relationships.The peacebuilding activities are expected to facilitate interaction
and joint initiatives between participants and local community youth as a way to
restore social cohesiveness. It also establishes the VMLRs’ participation in the
peace process as agents of change, enhances their self-confidence by recognizing
their leadership skills, and provides them with a meaningful role in the community.
VMLRs are fundamental in promoting a non-violent approach and building a common
agenda in coordination with the needs of community members. Topics such as non-discrimination,
human rights, gender equality, health issues, drugs and alcohol, inter-caste marriage,
traditional and cultural beliefs, the role of women, HIV/AIDS and the peace process
are approached in a community spirited and educational way. Peacebuilding activities
take place in the community as well as training centres and youth clubs and take
the form of sports competitions and art and song competitions. Rallies are organised
for mass awareness, street dramas conducted as education forums, and through this
platform of learning and enjoyment the community is brought together, striving towards
one goal of positive understanding and social cohesiveness. Throughout the trainings
VMLRs are consistently supported, monitored, mentored and counselled through sensitive
and difficult issues leading to greater understanding of themselves and their peers.
Peacebuilding activities carried out in areas where communities are doubtful of
the reliability of VMLRs are essential to reverse and minimize negative feelings
and create an environment of trust. In some parts of Nepal, VMLRs are welcomed and
communities actively insist on positively supporting the reintegration programme.
With the VMLRs playing active roles as civilians by engaging in a multitude of community
development activities, the way ahead is promising and optimistic.