Where there is hatred and anger, how can they be replaced by tolerance and respect? Ft Michael Lapsley, a survivor of a bomb attack, is pioneering group workshops around the world to break cycles of violence.
Where there is hatred and anger, how can they be replaced by tolerance and respect? In communities where a cycle of violence has taken hold, where emotions easily flare, in which there are raw feelings of anger, bitterness and fear, how can forgiveness and reconciliation triumph?
|In 1990 Father Michael Lapsely lost his hands in a right-wing letter bomb attack. He was the Chaplin to anti-apartheid activists based in Zimbabwe. With immense courage and humility he determined not to be a victim, but to become a healer. He worked with trauma victims, and in the spirit of nation building during the Mandela presidency, he started the Institute for Healing of Memories (IHOM) to enable South Africans of different race-groups to meet and be reconciled.
At the heart of IHOM’s method, is a 3 day workshop of art, drama, music, craft and storytelling. The workshop creates an atmosphere of openness and respect where each participant can tell their story in safety, and listen to the experiences of others in the group.
Father Michael Lapsley SSM
Coming to terms with trauma, and negative feelings like guilt, fear and anger, expressing them in a supportive environment, is immensely powerful psychological. It is the first and most essential step toward emotional healing and mental wellness.
|IHOM’s work began, and continues, in South Africa with multi-racial groups. But they have adapted their methodology to work with refugees, prisoners, ex-combatants, gangs, people with HIV/Aids, youth and communities and between generations.
Their work among prisoners, for instance, recognises that many prisoners are themselves victims of trauma, growing up in violent communities and experiencing a prison system that is often dehumanising. IHOM work with offenders, their victims and communities, through dialogue, and multiple workshops, to break the cycle of violence.
Institute for Healing Memories, based in Cape Town, South Africa
Michael has led workshops around the world, from East Timor to Ireland, from the USA to a variety of African countries. He and his staff are seeking to heal the effects of trauma, before they are passed in anger from generation to generation, creating hatred and division. It is an anger that poisons and can burst out, as it did so horrifically in Rwanda, in terrible violence.
Link to an interview with Father Michael on the BBC
Link to the IHOM website: http://www.healing-memories.org/
Author: Roddy Bray
Published Date: 11 Jun 2012
Location: Southern Africa | South Africa
Themes: living life, society | relationships, emotions, social development