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Soccer Soap Operas for Peace

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Soap operas about soccer are being broadcast on radio and TV in 17 countries around the world to promote understanding, create dialogue, and reduce conflict among people from different religious, ethnic and economic groups. Each story about "The Team," is crafted to address issues in the country where it is presented. In Kenya, the members of the team come from different tribes; in Morocco, they're both urban and rural, rich and poor. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the players on an all-girls team are all having problems related to sexual violence.

The productions are the work of Search for Common Ground, a nonprofit based in Washington, DC that was founded 30 years ago and now has offices in 30 countries, works with more than a thousand partner organizations and has a staff of 600. A story in The Christian Science Monitor by Gregory Lamb says Search for Common Ground has become the biggest conflict-resolution and peace building organization in the world. In addition to the soap opera stories, the organization uses youth mediation training, back channel diplomacy, music videos and call in radio shows, and community initiative such as shared farming projects, soccer matches and participatory theater.

John Marks, president and cofounder of the organization, explains in the story that "We’re retaining about 25 percent of the Congolese army in respecting the rights of women.” Women in the DNC still struggle for economic and social equality with men, and there are also serious threats to their well-being and safety.

Common ground has programs in several volatile regions including Pakistan, Tunisia, Yemen, and Jerusalem and is beginning operations in Libya and Myanmar.

The Monitor reports that Common ground will honor five peacemakers with awards this November, including a posthumous award to Christopher Stevens, the American diplomat and ambassador to Libya who died in an assault on the U.S. consulate.

Other recipients are Ingoma Nshya which translates as "New Era”, is Rwanda’s only female Hutu and Tutsi drumming troupe and is the subject of a new documentary film "Sweet Dreams." Marks explains drumming in Rwanda has been a "man’s thing” that women didn’t do even though it is the national music form. The group provides a place where ethnic hatred can be replaced by a culture of hope respect and reconciliation. An award will also be presented to three leaders from different faiths: Lord George Carey of Clifton, former archbishop of Canterbury; Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement; and Rabbi David Rosen, international director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee. Read the Monitor story here.

Tags:  buscell  community  complexity matters  culture 

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