Train civil society to be peace ambassadors in your community

Building Unity for Peaceful 2023 Elections in Sierra Leone
Newly trained peace ambassadors in Bo, Sierra Leone, in 2018

By Loretta Raider, Team Leader of Mediators Beyond Borders International’s Sierra Leone Project, and Principal of The Raider Consulting Group, a global firm focusing on organization development and peacebuilding

Mediators Beyond Borders International (MBBI), a Rotary International service partner and non-profit organization that builds skills for peace and promotes mediation in communities worldwide, aims to apply its expertise to a new peacebuilding program in Sierra Leone. MBBI designed this training program with the goal of supporting peaceful elections through leadership development and conflict transformation, a systematic approach to supporting sustainable peace and democracy in Sierra Leone. The program is set to launch in May 2023, in anticipation of Sierra Leone’s June 2023 general elections, which will be the fifth general election cycle since the country’s civil war ended in 2002.

This hybrid program of online and in-person learning will bridge theory and practice to enhance participant understanding and insight into others. The goal is to develop conflict resolution skills such as listening, informing, building common ground, facilitation, and mediation. Participants will also have access to coaching sessions. The training will focus on four civil society groups that are critical to sustainable community development:

  1. Community leaders (Peacebuilding and Train-the-Trainer Training)
  2. Women aspiring to political office (Leadership Development)
  3. Youth (Leadership Development and Support for Peaceful Elections)
  4. Tribal Chiefs (Peacebuilding Training)

This is not MBBI’s first peacebuilding engagement in Sierra Leone or with Rotary. MBBI previously trained 600 people from five regions of the country before the previous two general elections, which were widely perceived to have been successful — fair and free with strong civic engagement. In 2012, MBBI convened more than twenty peacebuilders, including university students, professors, women’s groups, and youth groups in Freetown. The community needs assessment and ensuing dialogue that MBBI facilitated helped envision the future for peaceful elections in Sierra Leone. It also inspired a fast-growing coalition of 40 organizations and individuals working toward that future.

Workshop participants learn about their conflict resolution style in Kenema, Sierra Leone in 2018.

Subsequently, in 2018 MBBI worked with Rotary members to host four regional workshops in Freetown, Magburaka, Kenema, and Bo for 300 participants. Similarly, the workshops fostered meaningful dialogue about the importance of political tolerance and peaceful elections. Based on a community needs assessment and data collected from focus groups, the team identified challenges for women in society and the need to build the capacity of women. The collaboration was supported by The Rotary Foundation through a global grant.

The 2018 program led to a 2020 training for 31 female entrepreneurs and prospective political leaders. Small groups continued to meet online for months throughout the pandemic and today implement community projects throughout Sierra Leone in the areas of women’s rights, women’s health, agriculture, education, micro-financing, climate change, and leadership training. Community leaders, women aspiring to political office, youth, or tribal chiefs are invited to participate in the upcoming May training. Perhaps you’re interested in bringing a similar training for peaceful elections to your community before your country’s national elections. The program is offered at no cost to participants. To support or participate in the program, to bring peacebuilders to a Sierra Leonean community, or to bring a program like this to your country, contact Loretta Raider, Team Leader of the MBBI Sierra Leone Project at

4 thoughts on “Train civil society to be peace ambassadors in your community

  1. Dear Rotarian, I am happy to come across this email message. I am a Rotarian and also a Civil Society activists in Sierra Leone and the present of the Rotary Club of Bo. I would like to be part of this process as I am also a trainer in conflict transformation. This is an opportunity for me to contribute my knowledge and skills in ensuring a violent free election in my country. Would like to hear more from you about how to get involved. Thanks for linking me up Best

    Paul L. Koroma Programme Director Peace and Security NMJD-South “Be the change you want to see and feel in the world”

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