What is the Alternatives to Violence Project?
Alternatives to Violence is a training programme run by volunteers which began, with support from Quakers, in a New York state prison in 1975.
It aimed to offer non-violent ways of dealing with anger and aggression. It was an immediate success and enabled individuals to avoid violent solutions to their problems and contributed massively to their personal development and to reduced institutional violence.
The programme now also runs in the community, in schools, in universities and in the workplace. It can be found in over 50 countries worldwide.
AVP in Zimbabwe
In 2015, a group of Quakers belonging to Bulawayo Meeting sought training from Friends in South Africa in order to establish a local training hub.
Since then, with financial support principally coming from Friends of Hlekweni, Alternatives to Violence Zimbabwe (AVPZ) began to offer its own courses . A year later, when Friends of Hlekweni proposed a Peace Clubs network, AVPZ was brought in to offer training in non-violent communication and conflict resolution to the peace club leaders.
In this model, every teacher who agrees to lead a peace club is offered a free basic level course in AVP giving them hands-on experience of mediation and conflict transformation techniques.
Is AVP effective?
Every course offers evidence of the transformational power of the training offered. Following a recent Level 2 course, participants were asked to report back on how they were using what they had learnt in the Level 1 course.
The course report includes the following testimony: one widowed participant shared on how AVP principles had helped her stop playing victim and regretted on having lost so much time in bitterness while one male participant who used to be in the army now shunned violence and was an active peacebuilder in his community, mediating in disputes with great success.