ESPERE (HOPE) is a step-by-step group-based programme for healing and conflict transformation. It takes approximately 60 hours to complete. It is designed to alleviate pain and grievances from old, ancient or recent trauma or suffering. In this way, these destructive feelings and memories can be transformed from anguish, sense of victimhood and the yearning for revenge, to understanding and a desire to reconcile and forgive.Thus individuals and groups regain their inner dignity and the ability to become free.

Originally conceived by scholars and practitioners at Harvard University, ESPERE (HOPE) has been developed by Leonel Navaez, Founder/Director of the Foundation of Reconciliation of Colombia. The programme is a winner of several prestigious international awards for its contribution to peacebuilding including being nominated for the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. Over 82,000 people have been trained in the ESPERE (HOPE) approach and they form part of an international network spanning ten countries in South America, the U.S.A., Canada, Kenya, Rwanda and other countries in Africa. It is also being introduced to the Middle East.

In May 2013, an Introductory ESPERE (HOPE) Training took place in Kigali, Rwanda. It was jointly organised by the GHFP and the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) of Rwanda. This would start the process of adapting the programme for the Rwandan needs.

In June 2013, a pilot ESPERE (HOPE) training took place at American University Beirut, Lebanon. The training was attended by selected students, educators and NGO professionals. This will be completed by a further training in November 2013 and a Training for Trainers immediately after that. The purpose is to offer the participants an experience of ESPERE methodology and receive recommendations for promoting the programme more widely in Lebanon.

The three-fold objective of ESPERE

  1. Enabling the individuals to become aware of the part we all play in conflict and bullying, even as ‘victims’ and to learn to take responsibility for personal healing.
  2. Seeking societal healing by forging a pathway from personal transformation towards reconciliation and building a political culture of solidarity and harmony.
  3. Offering opportunities for candidate facilitators to acquire and integrate the systematic ESPERE (HOPE) approach and methodology in their own professional work.

ESPERE (HOPE) Workshop Features:

  • safe, open and collective spaces
  • narrative sharing,
  • storytelling and dynamic dialogue
  • small intimate workgroups each consisting of three participants
  • interpersonal relationship and peer support
  • individual and group-based exercises
  • an inner process of deep reflection & an outer process of exploration and interaction
  • intense personal journeys of narration, emotion, understanding,
  • transformation, reconciliation and forgiveness
  • rituals and ceremonies to consolidate and acknowledge healing