The three MCC Africa Peace Institutes hosted a collaborative webinar on July 2, 2020. The hosts included Christine Sumog-oy of the Great Lakes Peacebuilding Institute (GLPI) in Bujumbura, Burundi, John Danboyi of the Peace Training Centre (PTC) in Jos, Nigeria, and Melinda Norris of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute (API) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event represented a first-ever collaboration by the three peace institutes, whose coordinators typically meet virtually 3-4 times a year to discuss their respective programs. Each host took this opportunity to invite their program’s alumni, facilitators and community members to attend the webinar. Invitations were issued in the form of a brochure via email, social media and word-of-mouth.
The webinar titled, “Trauma Awareness, Self-Care and COVID-19” was presented by MCC Rep to Zimbabwe and API Coordinator, Reverend Dr. Gopar Tapkida. The COVID-19 pandemic is unique in its scope, rapid acceleration, lack of preparedness, global impact, unfavorable prevention measures and a host of other reasons. What trauma is caused due to these reasons and what are our coping mechanisms during such a pandemic? Dr. Tapkida’s presentation explored the following:
- Traumatic impact of the myths, conspiracy theories, and overwhelming information;
- Sources of support during a global pandemic;
- Internal energy, strength, & resilient coping mechanisms in a collapsing world system;
- Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Watch the full webinar here:
Over 180 people from across Africa, North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia registered for the event. On the day of the event, 90 unique users logged in to Zoom, with many more accompanying them in the backdrop of homes or offices as they held watch parties for their colleagues and communities. Dr. Tapkida presented for about 30 minutes before the time was handed over for participants to ask questions. At the end of the 1 ½ hour timeslot there were still many questions coming in. These indicators – high turnout and high participation – signal to the hosts that the first-ever collaborative webinar was a great success.
Over 70% of those surveyed shortly after the webinar strongly agreed that it was a relevant and interesting topic. Those who wrote-in responses to what insights they gained from the topic widely expressed relief and encouragement; relief in being able to share similar psychosocial challenges and support amongst peers, and encouragement to pass on what they have learned to their families and communities. Particularly, peace practitioners said that they were previously aware of trauma and resilience as concepts but had not yet linked them to the COVID-19 pandemic, which the webinar helped them to do. They expressed gratitude in this regard.
Possibly the strongest feedback of those surveyed related to the time allotted for the event, with 33% of respondents disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that the time was sufficient. Several write-in responses suggested the use of Zoom’s break-out rooms or a registration limit, expanding the time length to two or more hours, or offering the same webinar across multiple days. Respondents specifically requested more time be given for discussion and engagement with the presenter. This is in line with the nearly 80% of respondents who strongly agreed that the presenter was knowledgeable and helpful on the topic.
Further feedback was received with regards to the language preference and the registration process, both key factors to a successful event. While 90% of those surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that the webinar was conducted in a language they understand and speak (English), requests were made to offer the webinar and its presentation materials in additional languages: French, Swahili, Portuguese, Arabic and Hausa. Particularly important to the GLPI community, which offers its annual peace trainings in both English and French, 70% of the requests were for the French language. Lastly, between 80-90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the registration process was easy to complete via Google Forms, and that the event hosts were professional and helpful from beginning to end. It is recommended that the registration process be duplicated for future events.