Despite entering a democratic transition, violent internal conflicts have continued across Indonesia after the fall of the Suharto regime in 1998. The violence is estimated to have displaced more than a million people and led to the loss of thousands of lives. With the experience of previous violent upheaval, Indonesia’s diverse culture, ethnicity, and religion remain potent areas of communal conflict.
Lian Gogali has created a method for trauma healing and cultivating empathy by which women and children transform themselves from victims, into survivors, and peacemakers. For the process to take place, Lian developed the Women’s School, where female post-conflict victims and former religious opponents come together, first and foremost, as friends. Women start with a discussion of daily life, sharing personal narratives and discuss their position in society. The school allows women to experience healing and new reflections on conflict, gain social and civic training, speak their mind, and deliver messages of peace. They build trust while having interfaith dialogues among different ethnic and religious backgrounds (Muslim, Christian and Hindu).
Through the Women’s School, Lian has set up a network of Interfaith Women’s Organizations, which are set to become the platform for other women’s organizations, such as the Women’s Congress, where women gain influence in policymaking. Because conflict in the region is mainly across religious lines, women cannot heal unless they use interfaith dialogue and communication. Lian developed a mobile library initiative at the “boundary” of religiously demarcated communities, through which children from various religious and ethnic backgrounds come together.
For the mobile library project, Lian uses books as a medium to build trust and teach diversity. Due to its success, the Women’s School has received attention from local politicians and government, which will further aid it to become involved in the peacebuilding process in Poso. Lian soon plans to insert the Women’s School concept into Christian worship at church prayer groups, as well as Muslim prayer groups (majelis taklim).
Lian is an Ashoka Fellow and got the „Coexist Prize“.