The Restorative Practices Foundation raised more than $11,000 to match the $10,000 donated by the Strachan Foundation in support of the IIRP Latinoamérica Conference, which hosted 261 participants from 23 countries.
Join the Strachan Foundation and the Restorative Practices Foundation in helping build community across Central America. The foundations are supporting innovative leaders in enhancing relationships among women in one of Costa Rica's slums and between urban youth in El Salvador, and in addressing conflict so a community can work together to build a health clinic in rural Nicaragua.
Along with other Strachan Foundation grantees, these leaders have discovered that restorative conversations have the power to transform conflict, repair and build relationships and improve society. And thanks to the support of the Strachan Foundation and the Restorative Practices Foundation, they will be able to share their pioneering work at the first IIRP Latinoamérica Conference.
The Strachan Foundation, a family foundation whose mission is to “prepare and empower people and communities to creatively solve the problems they face,” supports numerous grantees throughout the region that are implementing restorative practices.
Bien De Mujer (Women’s Wellbeing and Development) is an NGO (non-governmental organization) that works in the La Carpio district of San José, Costa Rica, which includes one of the country’s most dangerous slums. Its program provides food and meaningful work opportunities that women can do to give back. According to social programs director Ercy Méndez Trejos, the program helps women “meet their psycho-emotional needs, develop self-esteem and learn the skills to grow as women.”
Many of the women have very little education, and they often communicate in violent ways or respond defensively, says Méndez. But circles provide a structure for them express themselves, using a talking piece and taking turns to answer prompts like “I feel... I like... I will ask you to... I don’t feel good about...”
“We use the circle preventatively,” says Méndez. “We don’t wait until there is a conflict. The women listen and develop more empathy for each other. If one woman expresses that she doesn’t feel good about something, I ask, ‘Can we help her to feel better?’ and the others help out.”
Méndez also runs a parallel program with more than 200 youth in the same neighborhood, conducting circles as part of their after-school programming and restoratively addressing issues between parents and youth.
A mother reported that her daughter was acting strangely at home and wouldn’t do her homework. Méndez learned from the girl that the real issue was her mother’s new partner, who talked down to and scolded her. Méndez organized a circle with the mother, the girl and a trusted teacher. The girl felt safe telling her mother the problem, and her mother said she would talk to her partner about using a gentler tone and body language.
Reports Méndez, “Afterwards the girl felt much more secure, and her behavior improved. When her mother became pregnant, her daughter was a happy and active participant.”
“Besides finding a solution for this specific situation,” adds Méndez, “the outcome gave us ideas to talk about in the women’s circle to help prevent these kinds of situations in other families.”
Other Strachan Foundation grantees benefitting from scholarships to the IIRP Latinoamérica conference include Amos Health & Hope, in Nicaragua, which reconciled communities that were divided about the placement of a new health clinic, and Fundación Amaneceres, in Panama, which has used circles in theater classes to help immigrant students integrate into the community.
In El Salvador, children in after school clubs run by Glasswing International are learning how to build relationships and community, to prevent the kind of violence and conflict that has plagued Central America for generations. Glasswing’s regional education manager Maritza Trejo comments, “Restorative practices is important in our context. In the region of Central America, we’ve had a history of wars and violence. The problems we have now are because people can’t communicate with each other. Circles provide us with an ideal safe space so you can do that with others.”
The IIRP’s Restorative Practices Foundation is seeking to raise $10,000 to match Strachan Foundation’s investment to bring these innovative community leaders to the IIRP Latinoamérica Conference.
Read more about Glasswing’s after school clubs.
See a list of all Strachan Foundation Grantees.