‘I now realize that I can love myself.’
‘I love myself and I love you.’
‘I am because you are.’
~Compassion Training Participants
For two weeks in November the Botho Compassion Movement held a series of training workshops in efforts to cultivate compassion in Botswana. This is in line with Botswana’s Vision 2016, “A compassionate, just and caring nation by 2016.”
The Virtues Project International Association is a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life, sparking a global revolution of kindness, justice, and integrity in more than 100 countries through facilitators, master facilitators, champions and Virtues Connections.
The Virtues Project empowers individuals to live more authentic meaningful lives, families to raise children in an environment built on compassion and integrity, educators to create safe, caring, and high performing learning communities, and leaders to encourage excellence and ethics in the work place. It has inspired and mobilized people worldwide to commit acts of service and generosity, to heal violence with virtues such as perseverance, kindness, compassion and respect.
The Virtues Project training held in Gaborone has been a resounding success with over 250 people trained from across Botswana from 40 different stakeholder groups, including policy makers, the Botswana Defence Force, Botswana Police, Ministry of Education, other educators, religious leaders, and NGOs, including Child Line Botswana and SOS, Stepping Stones and Masiela Fund. One community leader who attended the training said, “How exciting it can be to do life a little differently: we’ve always valued these virtues- now we’ve been given tools, a methodology to share them”
Thanks to the Botho Compassion Movement’s partnership with Stepping Stones International, 17 girls who head their own child-headed households received the Virtues Project training and learned how to create compassionate families in difficult circumstances.
Results from the participant evaluations were outstanding, especially in enhanced learning of conflict resolution and new skills developed in the 5 strategies of the Virtues Project. A major finding was that participants wanted more workshop days and especially training of locals who can train others in the Virtues. The key for real success is implementation of this knowledge into practice and the aim of the Botho Compassion Movement is to train local Virtues Project trainers by October 2014.
The Botho Movement’s fundamental aim is to nurture above all things, compassion. Compassion is a sensitivity to suffering, with a deep wish and commitment to relieve this suffering in ourselves and others. We use ‘botho,’ a Setswana word, to remember the root of this principle in Setswana history. Botho is in fact one of Botswana’s five national principles, (the others being, democracy, development, self-reliance and unity) and as the Botswana’s Vision for 2016 states: