In order to and rebuild lost trust and communication across different conflict lines, conflict areas need local people who are committed to social dialogue. Through a training and mentoring program, we aim to support young people and adults from the Lugansk region in bringing understanding and rapprochement to a divided local society.

In polarized societies it is difficult – but also particularly necessary – to engage in dialogue and empathy. Our project aims to strengthen young people and adults in the conflict area who are committed to build up civil society. Their significance cannot be overestimated: as part of the local society they have insight into needs and conflicts, enjoy more trust than people “from outside” and act as multipliers, role models and agents of change.

The training and mentoring programme “Empowerment for Dialogue” provides skills that committed people need in order to work effectively and sustainably for building up civil society, fostering non-violent communication, and upholding human rights. It focuses on the Lugansk region, which is poor in resources and infrastructure and where people have little access to support and training.

The project consists of three components:

Module 1 – Training courses on dialogue-oriented group work in conflict situations for trainers from various Ukrainian organisations.

International experts held workshops on sociodrama ad systemic consensus – methods that have proven its worth in conflict situations but have hardly been used in the Ukrainian conflict setting.

Module 2 – Training units for young people and adults interested in civil society, which are held in five local centres along the conflict line: Popasna, Severodonetsk, Shastya, Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote).

Bringing the trainings to local centres, we increase the accessibility of the programme especially for young people, people with families and people with special needs. The first training supports the development of structures, networks and capacities in order to create platforms for dialogue. The second training aims at strengthening internal and external resources as a prerequisite for dialogue. The third training focuses on methods of reflected, non-violent communication across social, political and opinion boundaries. There are two training courses for young people in each city, in which the above-mentioned contents are taught in a streamlined form, adapted to the target group. The aim of all training courses is to overcome stereotypes and fears, to reflect one´s own perception and to revisit and improve communication.

Module 3 – A mentoring programme that takes up training contents, addresses the applicability in practice and accompanies the participant beyond the training.

The training sessions are followed by regular small group meetings an individual mentoring. Both individual and group mentoring help the participants to implement the training contents, identify barriers to dialogue and to search for possible solutions together with others. Moreover, participants learn to be mentors and mentees for each other.

Protocolls from trainings and mentorings serve as a base for a report on the state of civil society in each local centre. The report provides an insight into the problems and needs of the population and civil society in the conflict area, observed over a period of several months. Portraying the situation of civil society in the Lugansk region, it can help NGOs to design and precisely adapt future projects to meet their needs.

Read our report on civil society in the local centres in the conflict zone (district of Luhansk).