The Power of Language, Small Shifts in Language, Big Shifts in Behavior

The Power of Language, Small Shifts in Language, Big Shifts in Behavior

by Alexandra Asseily

Date: Saturday October 14, 2017

Time: 18:00- 19:30

Location: Beit Beirut

The Role of Language in Peace Building

  • Language is a potent force for positive change – from divisive authoritarian, bullying language to a cohesive, whole brain positive authority language.
  • Our language to ourselves is as important as our language to others.
  • If we judge, bully or attack ourselves with our internal dialogue we are more likely to judge, bully or attack others around us, or to attract attack.
  • As we learn to change our language and the feelings that go with it, from ‘authoritarian’ stress based language to whole brain positive authority language, we help to free ourselves, families and students from cycles of violence.

HWH Training Workshop Module 3: 2017

The HWH Training Program Module 3, is the last part of 3 modules of training in Healing the Wounds of History.
Date: November 17 till 19, 2017
Time: 09:00 am till 05:00 pm

Location: Silk Museum, Bsous

The objective is to create a community of change agents, field workers and practitioners, who, after appropriate training, are empowered to take and apply the approaches and the powerful content of HWH training into their respective practices within communities in Lebanon. This group will develop themselves individually first and then collectively through experiential learning. This will be done through a mixture of formal training, self facilitated practice sessions and application in the field. To enable this to happen, participants from last year’s program will receive an additional facilitation and training by assisting in the
teaching of the following year. This principle can be extended over time, so that the community grows in number, competency and compassion.

The intention is to offer training to teachers, trainers and NGO workers. It is an opportunity to learn change processes by having a direct, personal experience. Beyond this it is hoped that the tools taught will be disseminated as widely as possible in the spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness.
The material taught will be experiential and replicable. We shall share and teach tools from a wide range of wisdom traditions: including the world of personal development, the human potential movement and other sources. These tools help to take their users through an effective change process: from awareness to expression to forgiveness and finally to new behavior.

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Celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation in Lebanon

In celebration of the Feast of the Annunciation in Lebanon, the only country in the world to have a joint Christian-Moslem national holiday, a meeting was held by the “Islamic-Christian Meeting around Our Lady Mary” and NGO “Healing the Wounds of History” on Sunday, 26 of March 2017, at The Garden of Forgiveness in Beirut. Over 180 people attended, including several dignitaries: His Excellency Former Minister Tarek Mitri and his wife, Member of Parliament Ghassan Mukhaiber and his wife, former Egyptian Ambassador Hussein Derrar as well as clerics from many denominations, representatives of civil society, musicians, former civil war fighters and young men and women who participated and expressed their visions for a better Lebanon.

The program was introduced by Judge Ghada Aoun, President of the Bekaa Criminal Court and a human rights activist, and the participants were presented by Mirvat Bakkour of Healing the Wounds of History. The first speaker was Mrs Alexandra Asseily, psychotherapist and founder of Healing the Wounds of History, who recounted her personal experience of forgiveness and how the vision of ​​the Garden of Forgiveness emerged in 1997. This was followed by UK guest singer Guy Hayward’s beautiful ancient Christian Marian Chant, which, to everyone’s delight, coincided with the call to prayer from the nearby mosques.  

Lawyer Paul Andari, a former Lebanese Forces fighter, and Mr Haidar Amasha, who fought in the Damour attack during the civil war and is a founding member of the Combatants for Peace organization, shared their experiences during and after the war. Mr Amasha spoke movingly about the ravages of war and apologised for his part in it. Then, addressing his former enemy, he pledged to always work peacefully together for the common good, whatever their differences. Mr Andari said that he asked for forgiveness from God and from all people, especially those against whom he had fought, and that he is now willing to sacrifice his life for his old enemies.  

After hearing the testimonies of the war generation, today’s generation was represented by participants in the “Khebz w Melh” initiative of the Institute of Middle East Studies, which brings together youth from different faith communities. Miss Manal Tayar introduced Miss Alaa Marei and Miss Jennifer Nasrallah who shared how they overcame the prejudices of their different upbringings and how their deep friendship developed. The audience was moved by their words, their youth and the promise of a new and hopeful generation. 

A message which stressed our common humanity by Dr. Jean Abi Ghanem, Director of the American University of Culture and Education, was followed by the song “You are my Brother” performed by Mrs. Amal Tomb, a singer committed to humanitarian issues.

Father Joseph Salloum, from Ghazir, and lawyer Hussein Jaber, president of the Association of the Children of Mary, Queen of Peace in Nabatiyeh, each shared a letter from a brother to his brother from a different faith. 

Al Mabarrat Association choir of 25 young girls sang a beautiful Marian Chant.

Reverend Nabil Shehadi, coordinator of the Alpha Course in the Levant, and Mr Ali Sherri, senior official of the Al-Mabarrat charity, offered prayers for forgiveness and unity. 

The ceremony ended with songs by artist Ranine Chaar, followed by members of the audience symbolically expressing their hopes for forgiveness, by writing messages on copper tags and hanging them on the olive trees in front of the Nourieh Chapel.

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HWH Helps Spring Emerge with Another Journey of Forgiveness!

Over the weekend of 24,25,26th March, 2017,  with the facilitation of Alexandra Asseily, Psychotherapist and founder of Healing the Wounds of History  and Mathew Pruen, Hoffman Institute  Coach, a group of  Syrian teachers, Lebanese coaches and healers, and a few who came specially from UK,  gathered for  another workshop of Healing the Wounds of History. The workshop took place at The Silk Museum, Bsous, surrounded by its enchanted gardens, where much forgiveness, healing and the building of friendships and community continue to transform lives for the sixth year.

The workshop Finale included an ‘ancestral exercise’ down town at the Garden of Forgiveness, preceding a wonderful sunset celebration of the Annunciation day, outside the Nouryieh chapel, with inspiring testimonials, song and prayer.. which touched hearts and moved minds.

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Healing the Wounds of History: Module II Year 4

The challenges faced by Lebanon and the region are self-evident. Cycles of violence have played out repeatedly through the ages. All of this is well documented, but what is less obvious, is how the battles of the past can stay dormant within us from generation to generation, flaring up in moments of perceived threat. And so, whether we are conscious of this or not, we may be reliving the trauma of our parents, grandparents or even long dead ancestors.

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Healing the Wounds of History Training Program: Module III, Year 3

Module III, Year 3: Facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily

Date: 18, 19, 20 November 2016

Location: Silk Musuem, Bsous

The success of  module III of year Three of the Healing the Wounds of History workshops conducted by Alexandra Asseily, Mathew Pruen, and assisted by Mirvat Bakkour, is a sign that we have a firm foothold in the future of this exciting and transformative program. We welcomed a great diversity of participants from different countries and backgrounds: self development, teaching, NGOs, and healing.

The module included once again a diversity of tools to work on relationships with ourselves and “The Other”, “What is my responsibility for peace in the world?”, “The power of language” and many other challenging procedures to bring peace and understanding.

 In continuing this transformative journey, we bring to reality new possibilities for the future.

 As the HWH community continues to grow, it takes HWH further out into the public arena through families, schools, work and communities. 

The Politics of Administrative Reform in Lebanon June 2016

“The Politics of Administrative Reform in Lebanon” focused on examining the process of administrative reforms and human resources management in public Lebanese institutions inside the parties and on the state level. This was done by investigating the reform strategies and agendas, initiatives and challenges of MP’s, deputies and ministers involved in administrative reforms. A desk review of the literature on administrative reform in Lebanon, as well as individual interviews were conducted with ten Lebanese political parties to gather qualitative data on their involvement in administrative reform, as well as data pertaining to the internal administration of their respective parties. The research was funded by Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.


Healing the Wounds of History Training programme: Module II, Year 3

Healing the Wounds of History Training programme

Module II, Year 3: Facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily

Date: 10, 11, 12 June 2016

Location: Achrafieh, Villa des Palmes

In the wonderful garden of Villa des Palmes, Mathew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily facilitated module II of Healing the Wounds of History Training Programme.

This training programme represented an opportunity to experience change by practicing tools that embody the spirits of healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

The trainers taught tools from a wide range of wisdom traditions including the world of personal development, the human potential movement, and other sources. These tools allow individuals to undergo an effective change process – from awareness to expression to forgiveness and new behaviour.

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Social Gathering in Hamra

Healing can be facilitated by sharing and listening! During this social gathering, part of the HWH family had a chance to catch up with each other, exchange their new experiences and insights, and have a good time. This was done in an atmosphere of support, love, and appreciation.



Healing the Wounds of History Training programme: Module I, Year 3

Healing the Wounds of History Training programme

Module I, Year 3 facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily.

Date: 2,3 April  2016

Location: Bsous, Silk Musuem

In the enchanting Silk Musuem in Bsous, Mathew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily held module I of the third year of Healing the Wounds of History Training Programme.

The purpose of the program is to create a community of exchange among change agents, field workers, and practitioners. Those individuals are trained and empowered to carry on the message of HWH and apply the rich HWH tools to their respective practices within different Lebanese communities.   

The training programme involved practicing different tools to help the trainees develop individually and collectively through experiential learning. The tools relied on art, creativity, and the healing power of nature.

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Training of Trainers (TOT)

Training of Trainers (TOT) facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily on April 1, 2, 3, 2016, at the Silk Museum in Bsous

The first Training of Trainers, TOT, took place with the intention to develop trainers that will carry Healing the Wounds of History further. The training sessions were attended by HWHers who have completed modules I, II, and III of the previous two years. The trainees shadowed the work of the trainers Mather Pruen and Alexandra Asseily during module II of year 3.  

Nadine Zaccour’s Art Exhibition at Biel

Our beloved Nadine Zaccour organized an art exhibition at Biel. A group of Hwhers joined her to witness the creativity of Lebanese artists.



The Role of Research Centers in Shaping Education Reform Policies in Lebanon Post Civil War Period

Co-funded by CLS and The Issam Fares Institute, the Centre for Lebanese Studies conducted a research entitled “ The Role of Research Centres in Shaping Education Reform Policies in Lebanon Post Civil War Period”. The project aimed at investigating the role of academic and research institutions in promoting and shaping reforms in educational sectors in Lebanon, namely the reforms that took place in 1994 and 2010.  Furthermore the research examined the process of education reform in Lebanon, and the obstacles that undermined the role of independent research institutions in playing an active role in policy making.

Read more about this research:

Arabic Publication

English Publication

Hiking in Mtein

Despite the hot mid-summer weather, a group of HWHers gathered for a practice session in nature. They started the day with a lovely breakfast followed by a short hike on the Lebanon Mountain Trail in Mtein. After the hike, the group joined to practice HWH tools and reflect on their resources using the elements in nature. Afterwards, the group had a nice traditional lunch followed by a tour in the Faisal Palace and a visit to art museum in Mtein Square.

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Valentine’s Day 2015 Gathering at the Silk Museum in Bsous

On Valentine’s Day, a group of HWHers gathered for a practice session. What a better way to heal our heartbreaks than with the support  of  the HWH family! We had fun sharing and passing on love.

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Christmas Gathering at CLS in Hamra

Gathering for Christmas is a wonderful way to share the holiday spirit with the people that you love! The HWH family joined at the CLS offices to grab healthy food, exchange symbolic gifts, laugh, and dance.  

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HWH Forgiveness Training Module III

Date: November 21-24, 2014 – Location: Bsous, The Silk Museum
Facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily.

Friday November 21st to Sunday November 23rd 2014, plus practice and training session on Monday November 24th (Optional)

This follow up, program of experiential learning builds on the knowledge, the experience and the established bond of connection of the previous HWH workshops.
The intention is to revisit and practice the tools and knowledge from previous HWH workshops and offer support to integrate these practices in one’s own domains.

Location: The Silk Museum, Bsous, 10 am to 6 pm.

On Sunday 23rd November, from 4.30 to 6pm there will be a ritual at the Garden of Forgiveness, Beirut Central District.

HWH Practice Sessions




Following our second HWH training on February 28, March 1, and 2, the members of the Healing the Wounds of History program have been meeting once a week with the intention of maintaining the community of trust and sharing built over the course of the training, as well as practicing the tools and constellations learned from Module 1 and 2 with Alexandra Asseily and Matthew Pruen.

Members meet every third Saturday of the month between 10 am and 12 pm at the Centre for Lebanese Studies located on the 4th floor of the Domtex building in Hamra.

The next meeting will take place on June 21 at 10 am in CLS. All members are welcome and encouraged to join and participate in the self-led sessions.

HWH Forgiveness Training Module II

Date: February 28- March 2, 2014 – Location: Bsous, The Silk Museum
Facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily.

We are delighted to announce that we were able to offer a follow up, three-day programme of experiential learning. Module 2 was offered to the HWH group participants and builds on the knowledge, the experience and the established bond of connection from Dec. 13, in order to take the HWH learning and healing to a new and deeper level.

The intention was to consolidate and establish a community of learning, innovation and practice amongst the group of individuals who began this journey at the end of last year.  We used past learning, and introduced new activities and resources and to give the HWH group the courage, strength and support to integrate new learning and resources.

In this way we became encouraged and were able to spread these healing ideas and exercises as widely as possible throughout Lebanon and the region. The belief that sustains this vision is, of course, that collectively as an HWH network, we are greater than the sum of our parts. We can catalyse a more passionate, empowered intelligence by working together than we can by struggling alone.


HWH Forgiveness Training Module I

Date: 6-7-8 December Location: The Silk Museum-Bsous The primary intention of this workshop was to continue a second HWH training to existing practitioners in the field based on a direct experience of new tools and approaches in the hope that the learning gained will be shared as widely as possible. The three-day workshop was designed to offer a series of learning experiences on the themes of self, the other and connection. It was an opportunity to learn change processes by having a direct, personal experience. As part of the training, participants received written step by step guidelines on how to apply the various tools taught. The material taught was tools-based. Tools that took their users through an effective change process: from awareness to expression to forgiveness and finally to new behaviour. The training was led by Matthew Pruen and Alexandra Asseily. For more information please access the detailed overview of the workshop.    

Constellation Therapy: A Systemic Approach to Healing Trans-generational Trauma

Building on the success of the ‘Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the roots of violence” conference that was held in November 2011 in Byblos,Lebanon, a three day workshop on “Constellation Therapy: A Systemic Approach to Healing Trans-generational Trauma” took place in Bssous, Lebanon, on the 29, 30, 31 of March, 2012. Facilitated by Matthew Pruen and Gaye Donaldson.

The workshop on “Constellation Therapy: A systemic approach to healing trans-generational Trauma” focused on systemic constellation work, which is a practical and profound way of broadening the perspective of individuals and groups involved with conflict. Read more

Celebrating Religious Diversity

Islamic-Christian Celebration, March 25th, National Day of “The Annunciation” – Together Around Our Lady Mary

March 25th 2013, Garden of Forgiveness, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon

For the second year running, people of various religions gathered at the Garden of Forgiveness, Hadiqat as-Samah, to celebrate the occasion of “The Annunciation” and a national holiday in Lebanon. Muslims and Christians quoted references to Mary from the Bible and The Qur’an. Additionally, people shared their bitter experiences of war and the need for forgiveness.

To read more about the Garden of Forgiveness please visit:

ESPERE Forgiveness Training Workshop Part 1

Currently, the Healing the Wounds of History program is redesigning ESPERE for the specific situation of Lebanon, as one of its training programmes. The aim of the ESPERE is to transform narrations of blame and victimhood into an understanding of one’s own responsibilities for action. This constitutes a shift from what is typically viewed as the only possible responses to being the victim of violence – those of rage, hate and desire for revenge, towards responses that are emotionally healthy, healing and liberating. ESPERE is a well-acknowledged and well-received group-based programme for healing and conflict transformation. Originally conceived by scholars and practitioners at the Harvard University, ESPERE has been developed by the Foundation of Reconciliation of Colombia, winner of several international awards for contribution to peacebuilding including the UNESCO Peace Education Prize. Over 82,000 people have been trained in the ESPERE 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.

On June 6-8 2013, an introductory ESPERE training and an opportunity for a local input to contextualize the training to the present needs of Lebanon took place at the American University of Beirut.

This training was open to selected educators, teachers, NGO professionals and others willing to take this training further and work on its development. The June opportunity was the first stepping-stone to launching this project before the follow up training, aimed to take place in November 2013.

“Healing the Wounds of History” Conference

 “Healing the Wounds of History” Conference

November 11-13, 2011 at LAU Byblos in Lebanon

This three-day conference initiated by the Centre for Lebanese Studies launched the “Healing the Wounds of History” Program.

The main concepts addressed at the conference were the following: 1) causes for violence are rooted in recent but also older and even ancient historical grievances, memories and traumas, 2) how memories of the past can keep conflict alive, consciously and unconsciously, which invoke the formation of certain sectarian and social identities and 3) proposing an onward route for approaches to healing, reconciliation and forgiveness.

A thirty-minute documentary of the conference proceedings  has been  released. If you would like a copy of this, please contact

HWH Conference Documentary 


Conference on Healing the Wounds of History: Rwanda

Under the High Patronage of His Excellency The Prime Minister Najib Mikati

The Centre for Lebanese Studies at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford, The Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, in partnership with The Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation at the Lebanese American University, have co-convened an international conference entitled:

“Healing the Wounds of History: Addressing the Roots of Violence”

Held at the Lebanese American University’s Byblos Campus on 11-13 November 2011

For many years, Lebanese people have been haunted by past conflicts and traumatic memories, resulting in strong feelings, violence and pain. Unresolved grievances create lingering conflicts, which continue to leave wounds open. Without healing these wounds, they further obstruct peace and stability in Lebanon.

The search for alternative approaches to conflict transformation and peacebuilding is of paramount importance to healing our collective wounds together and addressing the roots of violence in Lebanon. By doing so, it can become possible to re-build relationships in the country that has long suffered from division and lack of trust between individuals and their communities.

For these reasons, 160 people including thinkers in the field, historians, psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists, political scientists, educators, activists, professors and students from around the country and from different parts of the world, met on 11-13 November 2011 at LAU, Byblos for this long- overdue exploration.

In the morning of 11th November, at the conference opening, Dr Walid Moubarak of the Institute of Diplomacy and Conflict Transformation (IDCT), welcomed participants from near and far to the LAU and pointed out how this timely event ties with the IDCT’s own ongoing research endeavour.

Mr George Asseily, the Founder and Chairman of the board of Governors of the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS), explained that although it is the CLS’ mission to initiate scholarly debates aimed at better understanding of Lebanon and helping find solutions to its problems, they have decided to organise this unique but much needed event in order to engage directly individuals and groups, especially the young people, in actively healing the wounds of history.

Mrs Alexandra Asseily, co-Founder and member of the board of Governors of CLS and who conceived the vision of the ‘Hadiqat As-Samah – Garden of Forgiveness’, reminded us of our ancestral influences and ‘embodied memory’ across generations in the Lebanese history of conflict and trauma, where individuals could become receivers of inherited patterns from conflict rooted before our time. Therefore, one of the goals of the conference was to explore the role of forgiveness in freeing ourselves from the grips of historical patterns. She highlighted that to forgive is NOT to forget. In fact, we must remember, so that we will not let such violence and atrocities happen again.

H.E. Minister of Education and Higher Education Hassan Diab, representing the President of the Council of Ministers Mr. Najib Mikati, congratulated the conference partners’ vision and echoed the need for a more holistic approach to peacebuilding and conflict transformation that includes, but also goes beyond social justice, human rights, social and economic stability, educational reform and so forth.

The Conference’s main keynote address was given by Prof. Vamik Volkan, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, USA. It begins with a convincing analysis: when large groups (i.e., tribal, ethnic, national, religious, and political ideological groups) are in conflict, psychological issues can contaminate most of their political, economic, legal, or military concerns. Prof. Volkan explored shared reactions to large group conflict and traumas such as victimisation, dehumanization and humiliation. He stressed the importance of mourning because the inability to mourn significant losses (people, homes, prestige, honour, etc.) throughout generations also may create ‘entitlement ideologies’ in the society, allowing groups to claim their ‘rights’ to recover their loss, continuing the cycle of violence. The incapacity to move forward leads the group to deposit their trauma on future generations. Therefore, collective mourning can be part of the journey of societal healing through arts, music, poetry, movies, conferences, etc. (without humiliating the other), and through ‘shared linking objects’ including reparative monuments, museums, gardens, such as the Hadiqat As-Samah in Beirut.

Prof Volkan proposes a number of strategies towards understanding and unblocking shared traumas, characterised by their holistic and multidisciplinary approaches in which history, political sciences, diplomacy and psychology converge.

Following Prof Volkan’s address, Dr. Leila Fawaz, Founding Director of the Fares Centre for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University, began the discussion on the cycles of violence in Lebanon through the lenses of the Lebanese War, and linking the latter to the recent phenomena such as globalisation and the emergence of modern warfare. As the respondent, Dr. Antoine Messarra emphasised the necessity to rediscover and reawaken the ‘sources of memory’ so as to start a transformative process of healing at a societal level. He highlighted the difference between the histories we study in a classroom setting or through books and the history we actually learn from our family and peers. The discussion continued into the next plenary on psycho-social approaches to healing cycles of violence, aiming at bridging the psychoanalytical aspects of group trauma and Lebanon’s cyclical history of violence and dividedness.

During the first afternoon, the participants witnessed the testimonies from those who fought during the wars in Lebanon and in Northern Ireland as well as those who suffered losses during violence and conflicts in Lebanon, England and Rwanda. These individuals recounted their journeys of seeking reconciliation with the other, by asking forgiveness and by liberating themselves from the burden of pain and trauma through forgiving.

Ms. Joanne Berry from England whose father was killed in a bombing planted by Mr. Patrick Magee from Ireland spoke as a pair of how they have been able to reconcile through deep listening and forgiveness. This journey through compassion and forgiveness has taken the pair to a shared mission towards building bridges for peace, together. Jo and Pat embraced each other at the end of their testimonies, a symbol of their friendship.

After these moving narratives, for the rest of the first day, the participants began to work in groups led by professional workshop leaders and facilitators. These sessions were intended to foster a safe space in which individuals could share their own experience of the conflicts and vision of healing and reconciliation.

The second day of the conference started with a panel discussion on how psycho-social approaches can make it possible for us to break from our past, appreciate our individual and collective gifts and to be empowered to heal the wounds of history.

The majority of the next two days focused on the group breakout sessions. Having established a common platform for communication, groups worked together to identify what they thought to be the historical wounds of Lebanon and to construct a way in which Lebanese can work together towards a cohesive and peaceful society. Using a series of explorative exercises and techniques, workshop leaders and facilitators created a propitious atmosphere whereby the participants were able to engage in active and compassionate listening and to embark on their own journey towards reconciliation and forgiveness.

Unique in their own, each group of 15-20 participants had a different approach to addressing the roots of conflict in Lebanon. These approaches which encompassed a spectrum of techniques ranging from art therapy to structured reflections and group debates sought to unravel an obstructed journey towards the ‘other’.

During these intensive and experiential workshops, Lebanese from diverse backgrounds and international participants listened to each other and were heard; they shared their own narratives of conflicts and trauma, but also their dreams of transformation and peace; they showed their vulnerability, but also offered gifts and support to each other; they laughed, but also cried as never before, together; they expressed doubts and suspicions of the possibility for peace in Lebanon, but also brought creative ideas and expertise to the table.

The final plenary of the conference had heard some most profound reflection on the journey that the participants, facilitators, and speakers had embarked on together for the three days:

First, each of the six groups reflected on their journey and shared inspirational ideas for a more unified and peaceful Lebanon. Many topics were brought forward, including the importance of deep listening and sharing (conflicting) narratives in order to understand grievances and release them through forgiveness; the urgency to empower and educate children, young people and the communities at large; and the need for public spaces where people can encounter differences, celebrate Lebanon’s rich diversity, and create opportunities for dialogue and constructive human relations.

Although each group came up with their own creative thoughts, one theme resonated amongst all: the Lebanese are ready to take concrete steps towards healing their past, bridging their present, and working towards a hopeful and peaceful future. In order to do so, the participants drafted a ‘Declaration for Healing Our Wounds of History’, which they would like to present to His Excellency Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

Next, each of the participants was invited to summarise in one sentence what had touched them most during the conference, and people’s accounts of their experience were overwhelmingly powerful. There were many tears shed and much hope raised. There was a consensus that in varying degrees, each person was enriched, enlightened and transformed by the conference’s processes, including the facilitators and organisers themselves. For instance, Ziad Moussa, a participant and facilitator at the conference, commented: ‘In my 20 years of work on dialogue in WCRP, MECC and other platforms, I have never experienced nor came anywhere close to something as powerful as what took place over the weekend…’

Jean-Paul Samputu is a world renown African singer and song writer. He is also a survivor of Rwanda genocide where his parents and a sibling were killed by his childhood friend. Samputu told the conference about his journey moving from the darkness of pain, revenge and despair to becoming a champion of forgiveness after he reconciled with the killer. Samputu said that he has never been so touched by such deep processes as in this conference. This conference has given him hope that a national process of healing the wounds of violence is possible. Samputu has invited the organisers of the conference to help set up a similar process in Rwanda in the coming year.


The conference ended with a trip to the “Garden of Forgiveness” in Downtown Beirut. All participants wrote on copper tags the grievances that they were ready to let go of and the thoughts that they no longer wish to take with them into the future. These tags were placed on an olive tree that was planted outside of the Garden.

One participant said that from this day on, Hadiqat As-Samah will not just be plot of land lying quietly amongst the ancient ruins, it will, instead, become a lively space in each of us.

Indeed, from this day on, Hadiqat As-Samah will be a place of mourning, inspiration and hope.

For more information regarding Healing the Wounds of History please see the website here.

Healing Our Ancestral Past For A Better Future – Workshop 20th & 21st April 2013

April 20 and 21st 2013 at Bsous, Lebanon

The workshop on “Healing Our Ancestral Past For A Better Future” aimed at exploring, honouring and healing connections between our past, present and future. This two-day workshop was facilitated by dynamic theatre trainers Mark Wentworth and Filipe De Moura from the UK and Portugal, respectively, and was held at the Silk Museum in Bsous. Find out more about the workshop.