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. 

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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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.  

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 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.    

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.