Need:

The Government of Belize (GOB), youth service providers and the general public are greatly concerned with the increasing levels of violence and violent crime in our society.  In February 2012, the GOB sent out a request to the international community for assistance in building a national cadre of conflict mediators to support a more peaceful society by using proven methodologies to resolve conflict without violence.  The U.S. Embassy in Belmopan responded by bringing in the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) to provide conflict mediation training.   The CSO team of conflict mediation experts were engaged to provide a year of technical support to Belizean organizations working with communities in conflict. During that time, the CSO team has spent 4 months in-country to provide training in the skills and methodologies of non-violent dispute resolution to create a sustainable, community-based approach to reduce violence, not only between gangs, but across vulnerable communities.

Solution:

RESTORE Belize and the CSO, in close collaboration with youth service providers, have implemented a locally-led, locally-owned training programme and practicum that resulted in:

Conflict Mediation

62 mediators trained – 11 gang- focused

20 Belizean mediation instructors

17 organizations with their own mediation programs

25 High School students taught anger management / creative problem solving workshop by Belizeans

2 High Schools with peer mediation programs;

12 more interested

Community Dialogue

26 community activists trained as dialogue leaders

13 Community Dialogues initiated, in whichactivists are working to address problems in disadvantaged communities, including:

  • gang prevention projects to mentor at-risk youth
  • a program for at-risk youth on George Street
  • reclaiming community spaces
  • a program to bring women out of poverty

Impact

Since the initial training, individual mediations and community dialogues have continued to grow. In August

2012, an evaluation team travelled to Belize City to measure the effort’s initial effect. It found mediation was judged by both disputants and mediators to be highly effective in addressing disputes. RESTORE Belize has now received funding from the US Embassy with CARSI funds and from the British High Commission to expand the program through a series of training courses over the next 15 months until June 2013. In his 2013

New Year address, Prime Minister of Belize Dean Barrow announced the planned roll-out of peer mediation to all Southside Belize City high schools, as a direct outcome of the program.

Belizean Organizations with Trained Conflict Mediators

Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation 

  • Community Rehabilitation Dept.
  • Youth Hostel
  • Conscious Youth Development Programme

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports 

  • Education Support Services
  • Department of Youth Services
  • Youth Cadet Corps

Schools

  • Wesley High School
  • Gwen Lizarraga High School
  • Sadie Vernon Technical High School
  • Maud Williams High School
  • Corozal Community College
  • Sacred Heart College
  • Hattieville Govt School
  • E. P. Yorke High School

Ministry of National Security 

  • Belize Defense Force
  • Community Policing Unit
  • Belize Central Prison

Several community activists who want to contribute to the betterment of their neighbourhoods have also received training in conducting community dialogues and /or conflict mediation.