The role of trauma support work in peace-building.
Current studies in peace-building suggest that effective peace-building approaches comprise of intervention strategies that value the interconnectedness of trauma and peace-building processes. However current research reports suggest that there is limited evidence supporting this notion. In addition, there is little information as to how to effectively integrate the two themes to achieve lasting peace. The research study aims to articulate the role of an integrated approach to peace-building to inform current practice and it serves to encourage the donor community to support initiatives which recognise the link between trauma and peace building. The research took a close look at experiences of participants who attended trauma recovery workshops conducted by Sinani (an isiZulu word meaning “we are with you”), the KwaZulu-Natal Programme for Survivors of Violence, the name of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) for which the researcher works. In particular, it explored how participants who had attended these workshops could serve as catalysts to peace by examining their experiences of violence in relation to trauma and peace-building. In addition it attempted to explore experiences of participants who did not attend Sinani trauma recovery workshops and the possible implication this would have for trauma and peace-building. Furthermore it analysed recent research papers and reports which addressed trauma and peace-building from a psycho-social perspective. The proposed hypothesis is that if trauma support work is ignored in post conflict peace-building processes, certain survivors of past violence are at risk of becoming perpetrators of future violence. Integrating trauma support work in peace-building interventions will yield lasting peace. The emerging findings suggest several factors contribute to violence and peace-building. Children’s exposure to violence, the extent of trauma and certain aspects of the criminal justice system have been described by participants as factors that contribute to violence. Equally participants suggested a competent leadership collective, functioning safety and security structures as valuable contributions to peace. Other valuable insights were shared by participants on the role of spirituality as well as indigenous cultural rituals valuable in the trauma and peace-building field.