The city rally in Schwäbisch Hall is part of a two-day project called “Fair macht Schule” (Fair Makes Schools). The pupils are to learn under what conditions the products around them are made and how small businesses in their city are trying to support fair trade goods. The 37-year-old Emam Abdelgadir is hearing a lot for the first time.
Up until now, he has not dealt with fair trade. At home in Sudan, he works in peace education and is a trainer in the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP), a violence prevention programme. Throughout Sudan, he teaches teachers, students, refugees and children living on the streets how conflicts can be recognised and solved without violence.
Conflict prevention through education
Ensuring peace, providing educational opportunities, preventing violence in conflicts – Emam Abdelgadir is sharing these emphases with Act for Transformation, a non-profit cooperative based in Aalen, Germany, which has also organised the city rally in Schwäbisch Hall and which is active throughout Baden-Württemberg.
For the last two months, Emam Abdelgadir has been in Germany as a scholarship holder in ifa’s CrossCulture Programme Refugees and Migration. Well-trained specialists from eleven African countries
and Germany cooperate with German or African organisations – both sides gaining from the cooperation expert knowledge as well as knowledge about the respective national context.
Talking with Muslims, Christians and people from different regions of the country - when Emam Abdelgadir holds one of his workshops on violence prevention in Sudan, the scepticism is great at first. The prejudices are too strong. “I have to first build trust,” he says. This is possible through role-playing games that even the illiterate children, like many on the streets, understand.
For example, he appoints parts of a bus to participants of his course; they pretend to be the brakes, steering wheel, engine and the driver. It quickly becomes apparent that without the others steering, stopping and giving gas, nothing works. Only together they can reach their goal.
He has also held a seminar in Germany. Refugees and volunteers in refugee aid met in the regional church in Baden. But this time Emam Abdelgadir was not alone: Jürgen Menzel, who works for “Arbeitsstelle Frieden” as consultant for peace education and who is chairman of Act for Transformation, was his co-trainer.
Twelve years ago, the two met in Sudan, where Jürgen Menzel was training Emam Abdelgadir in the frame of a project of the Civil Peace Service (CPS). From the former student, Emam Abdelgadir became a valued colleague. “I am very glad that we have Emam with us. It’s great to see how he has developed himself since we last saw each other,” says Jürgen Menzel.
Conflict prevention at schools
Emam Abdelgadir comes from Darfur, the conflict region in Western Sudan, and before he was instructed to be a trainer by Jürgen Menzel, he studied teaching and education in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. When he returns, he would like to recommend a project to the Minister of Education. He noticed, “How useful it would be to include the Alternative to Violence program in school curriculum nationwide, throughout Sudan. Then every teacher could become a trainer.”