“We do not believe that our peoples are doomed to make the same mistakes; nor do we believe that we are forever locked in cycles of violence and political impasse… We must look at our past and our present in light of our hope for the future. ”
— Through My Enemy’s Eyes
Musalaha’s definition of reconciliation is twofold.
1. Restoring Individual and Group Relationships – this means constructively engaging with the other side to allow inner healing to take place, rebuilding trust, and reclaiming one’s identity to bless one’s neighbor. This includes taking concrete steps towards a more peaceful environment.
2. Addressing Systematic Injustices – this means dealing with the core issues of the conflict and challenging policies, systems, legal structures, etc. that oppress people and cause an imbalance of power, which damages the ability to reconcile.
Musalaha’s signature method and place that has proven to be most effective for reconcilliation is the in desert. The desert is known for taking people through trials, healing, and transformation. The desert neutralizes the imbalance of power between people and challenges our preconceived ideas about the “other”. For such reasons, Musalaha’s first and core program is the Desert Encounter. An average Desert Encounter includes camel treks, jeep rides, reconciliation workshops, facilitated dialogue, and hiking through the desert.
Over the years, Musalaha has not limited its projects to the desert and expanded its work with children, women, youth, young adults, civil society leaders, and more. Our theological and philosophical approach to reconciliation has been recognized to be authentic and applicable to other contexts experiencing conflict around the world.
Musalaha’s reconcilliation model has been applied and taught in the UK, the USA, Germany, India, Northern Ireland, Hong King, and the MENA region.
While working through the process of reconciliation, sustainability is key. The crucial first step is the building of relationships. This is a very difficult step, as it requires participants to step out of their comfort zones and reach out to people on the “other” side.
After relationships have been established, participants can begin to deal with the issues; a process that is never easy, but is made possible because of the personal relationships that have been built. Next, participants need to receive training in reconciliation and in leadership, so they can best impact their society by spreading the message of reconciliation and hope. Participants who have gone through this process are able to bear witness to its transformative power, and help recruit new participants and bring them into the process.