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Conflict mediation in prison ministry

The co-counsellors training in Debre Birhan Prison, Amhara region, Ethiopia
The co-counsellors training in Debre Birhan Prison, Amhara region, Ethiopia

The Prison Ministry

Since 1996, Meserete Kristos Church Prison Ministry (“the Ministry”) has served prison inmates across Ethiopia. Their vision is to see the inmates’ lives changed through receiving Jesus Christ as Lord. To leave their life of crime and live a life worthy of glorifying God is the goal of the Ministry. The Ministry has assigned ministers in 28 prisons who go into each of these prisons every day and serve the prisoners in spiritual, social, and developmental services.

However, there are major issues which confront the Ministry for example, murder, displacement, and fear. Over 70% of inmates in northern Shewa are imprisoned due to murder cases. In addition, land disputes, drunkenness, theft, adultery, abduction, and vengeance engulfs many communities. Yet, many victims’ families are not able to meet their offenders to get closure and healing. The Prison Ministry works to reconcile these inmates with their victims’ families.

Importance of conflict mediation

Public thanks and broadcast of MKC Prison Ministry’s work in its Facebook page.

The API training was so relevant and important for my work with these inmates. As the Peace Program Coordinator of the Ministry, I oversee the peace and reconciliation program. Among the courses at API, Introduction to Conflict Transformation in African Perspectives and Anabaptist Beliefs and Perspectives were critical in guiding me. As I returned home to face the challenges of the communities, we worked towards the reconciliation and healing of the people. I applied principles from these two courses in my mediation and counselling efforts. Moreover, I used API principles to train others for chaplaincy in the Ministry.

Another example of where I applied API principles was in the preparation, selection and training of inmates to serve as co-counsellors. Because of API, the training focused on conflict transformation and non-violence. These efforts have brought peace between inmates, reduced the cycle of violence in communities, and brought closure to some families who lost loved ones.

A call to build peace

I now consider peacebuilding as a calling on my life. Moreover, I am motivated to pursue more Peacebuilding training. The role of API to build peace in Africa is significant. Its pan-African approach means it can benefit everyone across the continent.   

Name: Asalefew Wolde, Peace Program Coordinator, Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) Prison Ministry

Date submitted: 13 July 2020

Location: Amhara region, Ethiopia

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