Since 2015, Friends of Hlekweni has been funding important peace-building initiatives in Zimbabwe, which we believe, in the long run, will contribute significantly to the transformation of the lives of individuals, the culture of schools and, more widely, public and political life. This is still prone to outbreaks of public violence, particularly around election times. This is both detrimental to individual citizens and their human rights and also deeply damaging to the quality of public life as well as the economy.
Friends of Hlekweni has financially supported the establishment of Alternatives to Violence Zimbabwe (AVPZ). In 2020 AVPZ delivered courses on conflict resolution to community groups, youth groups, NGO personnel and teachers.
Teachers are crucial multipliers of peace culture because they are skilled at working with the next generation of Zimbabweans and understand the importance of peace for prosperity and human flourishing. AVPZ is encouraging teachers to take this training back into schools and set up Peace Clubs, enabling students to become ambassadors for peace in their schools, including undertaking peer mediation. FoH is supporting primary school Peace Clubs and, more recently, has funded the establishment of a network of over 25 secondary school Peace Clubs. With help from individuals, international Friends and grants from Quaker Peace and Social Witness of Britain Yearly Meeting this expanding network is having an impact on individual students’ lives and on school cultures and has won the approval of local district education inspectors who are keen for FoH to continue to support the Peace Clubs movement.
Initially, FoH bought in American textbooks and shipped them out to Zimbabwe. This is not a sustainable strategy in the long run and a Peace Club Manual, Ubuntu: building peace in schools (provisional title) is being developed to improve the quality and impact of Peace Club work.