The recent abduction of 300 girls by Boko Haram has spotlighted ongoing tensions in Nigeria. In a country where more than 20,000 lives have been lost over the past decade to outbreaks of religiously-connected violence, Public Conversations partners with the Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC) to help build trust between Muslim and Christian communities. Together, we have created a dialogue model to serve as the basis for IMC’s work with religious and civic leaders, women, youth, and people with disabilities.
Nearly 2,000 community workers have trained in this model, and these participants have shared their learning with countless other fellow Nigerians. The impact of this work was evident recently in Sokoto in the wake of a traffic accident that threatened to explode into violence. Muslim youth quickly gathered after a Christian man accidentally crashed his car into the house of a Muslim family. Tempers flared and threatening words flew. But one young man standing nearby who had received IMC training from a village elder was able to calm the crowd, contact the police, and restore peace.
Drawing on their Public Conversations training, our IMC partners are passing along the key tenets and practices of our approach—and making a life-and-death difference in their communities.
This article first appeared in the program booklet for Nourish, Public Conversation Project’s annual benefit dinner, held this year on May 28 in Boston. Learn more about Nourish here.