82.1 F
Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, March 30, 2023


April 27, 2004 – With violence a rising concern in the territory, an international, violence-prevention program is launching a chapter in the Virgin Islands. Alternatives to Violence project conducted workshops last weekend that will continue this weekend. The first workshop was Friday at the Mon Bijou Greathouse on St. Croix.
The series of workshops, sponsored by the Interfaith Coalition, addresses trust building, personal growth, and creative conflict management. The teachings of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi are the foundation of the program. Sponsors say the project's focus is spiritual, not religious.
Carolyn Keys, program facilitator, said during the orientation Friday, "This program is about trying to find the good in people." She said she believes there is good in all people of the territory and the world.
Keys has resided on St. Croix for over 30 years. She has worked here as a social worker and psychotherapist. She said she has seen a transition over the years from a safe community of peaceful people to the intense environment of today.
She joined a friend on a peace mission to Burundi from 2000 to 2002. There she worked with Friends Peace Teams. She now believes she can help to mold a new attitude among residents on the island.
She hopes to train facilitators qualified to interface with community groups, churches, government agencies, and businesses to affect change. Her aim is to promote peace activities at the grassroots level.
The 18th century Greathouse formed a backdrop for the retreat-type workshop where participants sat in a circle. Signs on the walls set the mood. They read; "War is Not the Answer" and "Peace is a Group Effort."
During the first half hour of the workshop, participants were allowed five minutes to tell why there is a need for peace within their communities. The sharing was done with the assurance of confidentiality.
A mother of seven said that after her husband died she had to raise her children with the help of neighbors and the church. Now, tension has increased in her household and it sometimes leads to violent outbursts. She would like to learn how she could neutralize the environment.
Another female said there was no violence in her childhood, but she encountered it through an abusive spouse.
Yet another said, "I'm so glad about this program. I've been on my knees trying to understand it. I'd like to learn about some of the roots from which violence comes." She said for her it was scary because violence was not a part of her upbringing.
A tearful, soft-spoken participant said her neighbor, who was an advocate of peace within their community, was shot. He was unarmed.
Sheila Scullion, executive director of Inner Light, said "I feel hopeful that AVP can permeate into communities to provide alternatives for young people."
Sylvia Brady of Sisters Keepers said she understands the struggles after raising three, young men. "The violence is running rampant on St. Croix."
At the end of day two, Jacqueline Griffin, a licensed professional counselor, and Keyes commented on the group’s synergy.
"You can tell by the quality of the participants. It is my experience people who get involved are people who will make change happen," said Keys.
Griffin joined the group as a participant not as a practitioner. She said the workshop was going well. "We have been able to connect on a deep level quickly. We shared ideas, feelings, and experiences. We have allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and that makes a community." She said the group has discussed the range of violence from verbal to lethal.
The next three-day session will be April 27 to 29. Space is limited to 20 participants, to reserve space call Keys at 778-1445 or e-mail carolynkeys@hotmail.com.
A $75donation includes lunch.
For more information on the program visit www.avpusa.org or www.avpinternational.org.
Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.