Global perspectives on peace building will be shared at a conference in Londonderry next month.
Hope Beyond Hurt is being organised as part of a wider programme of events that will culminate this summer with the opening of a Garden of Reflection in Derry city centre.
Speakers attending the conference include Giles Duley, a photo-journalist severely injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) explosion in Afghanistan, and blind Palestinian psychologist Laila Atshan, who as a consultant for Unicef has worked with trauma victims in conflict zones such as Dafur and Iraq.
The project is funded through the European Union’s Peace III Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, and is a partnership between Inner City Trust, Derry City Council and DiverseCity Community Partnership.
Helen Quigley, of Inner City Trust, said: “The city centre Garden of Reflection is a unique project which will transform a derelict and underused space into a shared space in the heart of the city centre.
“We envisage that the garden will be accessed by those who live in the city, as well as attracting visitors from all over Northern Ireland and beyond.
“The Peace Bridge has been a phenomenal success and our vision for the Garden of Reflection is to be a new bridge, an ‘urban bridge’ that helps reintegrate our communities in the city centre and evolves into a natural meeting point for all our citizens.
“The underlying concept behind the garden is to create an inspiring shared space where everyone will feel welcome to reflect, meet, engage and relax.
“As part of that the Hope Beyond Hurt conference, which will highlight some incredibly powerful and sometimes difficult personal stories, will help us to reflect on how individuals and communities can better accommodate each other.”
Eamonn Deane, chairman of Holywell Trust, which is part of the DiverseCity Community Partnership, said: “Holywell Trust has been involved in peacebuilding for over 25-years, but the Garden of Reflection and the Hope Beyond Hurt conference are the most exciting and ambitious projects which we have embarked on.
“The conference is an opportunity for policy makers and peace influencers to examine themes such as international conflict, peace and reconciliation with people who have been at the sharp end of some of the most destructive conflicts of recent times.
“Peacebuilding doesn’t happen by accident, it takes hard work, compromise and people of goodwill. In Derry we have seen the out-workings of that commitment in many areas, but peacebuilding is a process, not a one-off occurrence.
“We are delighted to welcome so many highly regarded speakers to Northern Ireland, drawn from the worlds of journalism, the arts, urban development and conflict resolution. Northern Ireland’s troubled past is not unique, but this conference will help provide some global perspectives on how we can build a truly shared society.”
The Hope Beyond Hurt conference will take place in Holywell-DiverseCity Community Partnership on Bishop Street on April 15 and 16.
For further information visit: www.gardenofreflection.org