Catching up on important meetings

Sani and I at the peace conference

Tuesday evening Nov 1st, John and I met for dinner with Sani Suleiman of JDPC. Sani is the coordinator and program director of Peace building and Conflict Transformation for the JDPC in Jos, Nigeria. He is a Muslim working for the Catholic organization. Justice Development and Peace Commission/Caritas (JDPC) is responsible for social development activities in the Archdiocese. The JDPC serves all humanity regardless of religious or ethnic affiliation and is involved in different aspects of human development: Agriculture, Rural Water Supply, Human Rights/Legal Aid, Democracy Monitoring, Street Children (Under the Care for Children Programme), Prison Ministry, Women Empowerment and Conflict transformation/Peace building. Sani is a skilled moderator, peace builder, and has a regular radio presence in Jos. I met him in June at Eastern Mennonite University’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) in Virginia. We were in the same class, Peacebuilding In Traumatized Societies and did a report together on the situation in Jos, Nigeria. We worked so well together that led to his participation in helping the facilitation of the Voices of Angels material during the Interfaith peace conference engaging the participants for two full days in “The 7 Principles of Reconciliation” (learned from Angeles Arrien and Patrick O’Neill). At our dinner when I asked straight out what he valued from the conference Oct 27-29, he said, “What amazed me was the process that engaged the individual’s heart but also the collective process.” He felt it was, “a very unique and important process.” He said it was new and that although he had been doing reconciliation work with a focus on perspectives of relationships he really learned. He said, “Apart from issues of personal transformation, connecting people and being a strong instrument of peace building, just this afternoon a participant from the conference called me and asked how I was doing. They were a stranger to me before the conference and now they are a friend. The conference provided space for sharing, learning and individual commitments.” He noted he observed my sensitivity in allowing him and Emmanuel to engage the people fully in ways that were culturally relevant. He concluded with, “You really challenged me and I wish to do the same with those whom I work.” I acknowledged his incredible skill in interactions with others while imparting the material of the principles. I was impressed by his flexibility adapting them spontaneously in culturally relevant ways, adding local moral teaching stories, adding movement, clapping, rhythm and humor. What joy he brings to the process while keeping all thoroughly engaged. What an honor to have worked with him. I asked him if he felt equipped to continue to process of engaging other in “The 7 Principles of Reconciliation” and he replied absolutely.