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Zimbabwe : peace action

With the highest rate of inflation anywhere in the world - currently 100,000% - the Zimbabwean economy has been in free-fall for several years, creating massive social unrest and chronic food shortages.

With elections due this month, and both the opposition MDC (Move- ment for Democratic Change) Party and the ruling ZANU-PF now split into two camps, the danger of escalating political violence is imminent.

At the heart of this conflict, the Fellowship of Reconciliation Zimbab- we (FORZ) has created an exciting new project known as Focal Point, engaging Zimbabwean youth in a unique combination of both active nonviolence and poverty reduction training.

In 2005/06, along with nonviolence trainers Makios Phiri and Nhamo Sithole, I held workshops and established youth peace clubs, in the Epworth, Glen Norah, and Gweru communities.

FORZ have selected some 25 young men and women for training in garment-making, book-binding, and metal fabrication. We provide mate rials, pay for school fees, and help with transport for the students.

While grounding the students in the principles and practice of active nonviolence, the project will enable students from poor families to start their own businesses, rather than struggle to find employment in an economy where 80% are unemployed, and give them the economic independence and nonviolent skills to transform their communities.

Huge steps have been taken to establish a curriculum and lay the foundation for a national nonviolence training programme ­ not only to create a culture of peace and nonviolence, but also to remove a culture of docility and fatal passivity by nurturing these youths as tomorrow's nonviolent leaders.

For more information, please visit http://www.for.org.uk/resources or contact: Nick Chavasse of FoR England on 01865 748796 or nick@for.org.uk

Akadim Chikandamina is a former President of International Fellowship of Reconciliation: aki@comone.co.zw FoR England's International Peacemakers Fund provides financial support for these FORZ initiatives.