The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) is a nonprofit educational corporation which began nonviolence training in prisons in the USA in 1975. This prison training soon revealed that the violence in prisons is merely a distilled version of the violence in society and that nonviolence training is needed as much, or more, in the outside community. AVP has since spread to over 60 countries worldwide and is used in government corporations, NGOs, schools, universities, prisons, religious organisations and communities. The first workshops in Southern Africa started in 1995 and currently there are active groups in Gauteng, Eastern and Western Cape as well as KwaZulu Natal and Namibia.
The AVP experiential workshops are a process of self-reflection and sharing, not of teaching. AVP believes that the answers to violence lie within each individual. For this reason the AVP workshops offer a safe environment which encourages participants to search within themselves for solutions and develop their natural abilities to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence.
With its five central pillars of affirmation, communication, cooperation, community building and creative conflict resolution, AVP comprehensively introduces methods for reaching consensus and building relationships of reciprocity, resolving conflicts rather than reacting to them and learning communication skills that can de-escalate potentially violent and dangerous confrontations in any cultural environment.
At the urging of many incarcerated people, AVP has also developed a strong and extensive youth component. Workshops can be adapted to a variety of age levels and different community organisations supporting youth-at-risk. A separate AVP Youth Manual was published in 2000.
For more information, see https://avp.international/ and watch a video on AVP or click on AVP around the world to see the countries where AVP is active. You can also watch a video of an AVP workshop in a US prison at: https://vimeo.com/27793169
Funding from NMMU enabled all the AVP facilitators in Southern Africa to meet together for the first time and participate in three days of seminars and talks aimed at consolidating a national AVP structure. Twenty facilitators attended, including regional coordinators from the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Lesotho, Namibia, Western Cape and Zimbabwe. A colloquium on Alternatives to Violence was hosted by the Department of Political and Conflict Studies in the North Campus Conference on 21st August 2015 which was attended by NMMU staff and students, local community leaders and members of the public. In an all-day Strategic Planning Workshop on Saturday, 22nd August 2015, AVP facilitators presented their regional reports, shared outreach strategies and identified common problems. On Sunday, 23rd August the attending AVP facilitators also participated in a day’s workshop on Trauma Support led by Nigerian facilitator, Maji Peterx who has recently been working with communities affected by Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria.