Film Presentation: "Healing Grief and Rebuilding Trust as a Pathway to Peace Among Conflict Survivors"
Civil disruption in any community leaves behind generations of individuals to cope with grief. To restore balance and peace, individuals must foster safe communities to acknowledge grief. To build community, survivors of conflict must have an opportunity to make meaning from the devastation they have experienced. As individuals are able to make meaning of their loss, they also rebuild trust within their community. Rebuilding trust is essential towards healing a country, a community, and the individual to protect elements of human security, institutional reform, and economic transformation. These elements are the essential elements of growth towards positive peace.
This panel session on The Power of Grief and Community in Peacebuilding will focus on real-life experiences and actions currently in practice by those who have survived conflict. Our panel will focus on the concept of building community to address grief as the catalyst for peacebuilding. Peacebuilding is trust-building, but trust-building is an emotional concept not a political model. Those who stand to mistrust the most in post-conflict recovery are those who have lost the most in conflict. Grief is an emotional response to the loss of a person, place, or idea (Jakoby, 2012). As those most vulnerable to mistrust are also those who have lost the most, then those who have lost are also living with grief. If individuals do not have the ability to address and give voice to their grief, then they live with unacknowledged grief. When their grief is unacknowledged, those living with grief have the power to enact retributive justice leading to further civil unrest (Borris-Dunchunstang, 2017; Grossman, 2009). However, if survivors of conflict are able to find an empathic community of fellow survivors, anecdotal evidence indicates that survivors can instead become champions of restorative justice (Borris-Dunchunstang, 2017).
Ms Annika Hilding Norberg joined the Geneva Centre for Security Policy in 2017 where she is head of peace operations and peacebuilding with a specific focus on dialogue, research and policy development, and education and training. Annika serves on the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform Management Committee. Prior to joining the GCSP, she was the director of the Challenges Forum (CF) aimed at strengthening the planning, conduct and evaluation of UN peace operations. As an undergraduate when serving as chairman of the Intl. Relations Society of the London School of Economics (LSE), Annika realized the promise and impact of bringing together diverse perspectives to solve common problems. In 1996, when she returned to LSE for research studies, Annika founded the Challenges Forum, which she coordinated for 21 years based at the LSE, then Swedish National Defence College and then Folke Bernadotte Academy, an agency of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Annika is main editor of more than 80 Forum and other reports, policy briefs and articles. She oversaw CF contributions to the Principles and Guidelines for United Nations Peacekeeping Operations (UN PKO), the Strategic Guidance Framework for Intl. Police PKO, and the Considerations for Mission Leaders in UN PKO Study. Annika has served as a director on the Peace Operations Training Institute Board and as a Reviewer for the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (UN OIOS). She has a BSc in Econ (IR) from LSE, an MA in Intl. Politics from ULB, and Languages Certificates from Moscow State University and Universidad del Pais Vasco. In 2008, Annika was awarded the Silver Medal of the Swedish Royal Academy of Military Science for her contributions to strengthening UN peacekeeping.
Bonnie Carroll is the widow of an Army general who died along with seven other soldiers in an Army plane crash in 1992. Out of that loss, she founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for survivors, which is today the recognized American program providing comfort and care for all who are grieving the death of a military loved one. Ms. Carroll also served her country, retiring as a Major in the Air Force Reserves. In her civilian career, she has worked for three Presidents in the White House, and served in various other government capacities including as the White House Liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs. She also served as a Department of the Army civilian in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003 to 2004 as the Deputy Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Communications and continues working internationally to bring stability to families of military deceased in areas of conflict around the world. She holds a degree in Political Science and Public Administration from American University and has attended Harvard University's Executive Leadership course in International Conflict Resolution. In 2015, Ms. Carroll was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work with surviving military families. She is the author of Healing Your Grieving Heart After a Military Death.
Fatma Megrahi was born In Istanbul, and is half Libyan and half Turkish. She is the daughter of a retired Brigadier General from the Libyan Army and a diplomat who served as the Libyan Consul in Turkey, Algeria and the United Nations in America in 2009 to 2011. She is from the Megrahis Tribe, the second largest Tribe of Libya. Fatma grew up in various countries due to her father's postings. During the Libyan Civil War, she lived in between Istanbul and Libya while her parents and brothers were stuck in the war. Fatma joined TAPS in 2017 after the loss of her hundreds of family members in the Libyan Civil War. She has worked in several NGOs as a Volunteer and Project Manager with the Syrian refugees all around Turkey. With TAPS, Fatma has helped launch efforts in Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. She has spent her time in several war zone countries in the Middle East. She currently lives in Istanbul with her family, and speaks Arabic, Turkish, and English. "I’m thankful for where I am standing today, through all the past years the war has changed my and my family’s life completely. We have lost many of our family members, our friends, our dreams, our hope and our memories.. But today I have gained many people whom I consider as family, friends and I have new dreams, new memories and HOPE! Today I have a TAPS Family. I’m honored to be part of this work and bringing hope and healing all around the world."
Koby Langley serves as a Senior Vice President at the American Red Cross, overseeing the International Humanitarian Services and the Services to the Armed Forces. A former White House appointee, Koby was instrumental in developing the Joining Forces program to support military families for First Lady Michelle Obama. During his military service, Langley was the first in-theater Foreign Claims Commissioner for Iraq. Langley conducted over 100 Foreign Claims Act and Laws of Armed Conflict missions/convoys in Iraq, and served as an Operational Law Attorney and Prosecutor for the 82d Airborne Division. Langley is a two-tour combat Veteran and Bronze Star recipient for meritorious service.
Lily Thapa is the founder of Women for Human Rights, which brings together Nepalese widows, many of whom were the young wives of men killed in Nepal’s eleven-year insurgency, out of isolation and dependency in their husbands' homes and connects them with each other in groups that help build their economic and political strength. The groups give the widows, or “single women” as Lily prefers to use instead of the heavily symbolic “widow,” a chance to grieve together and to learn how to speak out and deal with the social and economic barriers that they face.
Sahale Eubank has lived her life as part of the Free Burma Rangers (FBR), a humanitarian service movement for oppressed ethnic minorities of all races and religions in Burma, Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Sudan war zones. Her personal mission is to help free people from oppression. Eubank is joined on missions by her family, who work alongside the ethnic FBR relief teams giving help, hope, and love. The Eubank family started the Global Day of Prayer for Burma and the Good Life Club family outreach program.
Mitty Griffis Mirrer is an independent documentary filmmaker, award winning journalist and military survivor who has spent the past decade gathering the voices of widows, widowers and children of war from two generations. Mirrer earned a Regional Edward R Murrow for her documentary series on her own family’s journey to Vietnam. Through the documentary series, Mirrer began to understand the loss of not knowing her Marine father, William A. Griffis III, who was killed in Vietnam in 1970. More importantly, Mirrer began to understand the greater impact on her life of never talking about his life or his death. Mirrer produced and directed Gold Star Children. The film follows the parallel journeys of two generations: today’s war orphans, and the now-adult children whose fathers were killed in the Vietnam War. Together, two generations of Gold Star children grieve, love and hope. Mirrer also founded Gold Star Children, a non-profit, to use film and interactive media to raise awareness for children who have lost a parent to war. These families understand the heart of America in a way that few others do. They are the faces of war on the home front and their inspiring stories of growth and love after going through trauma and living with loss, deserves to be heard. Mirrer co-wrote a documentary called Sarajevo Roses: A Cinematic Essay. The film chronicles the lives of people who lived through and find community and healing during a fragile time of peace. Mirrer was a fellow at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Mirrer is a graduate of Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism in New York. Mirrer won a Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship in 2018 and she is also a 2017 recipient of the Lynton Fellowship at Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism.
Roger M. Richards works in nonfiction and fiction film production and photojournalism/documentary photography. His work has ranged from coverage of the White House in Washington, D.C. to conflict zones around the world, including the wars in Croatia and Bosnia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, the U.S. invasion of Panama, Colombia, Haiti and the Middle East. As a filmmaker, his work has screened in cinemas (art house and multiplexes operated by AMC, Regal, Landmark) across the USA and at film festivals and alternate venues like universities and high schools. His first feature documentary as a director, “Sarajevo Roses-a cinematic essay”, is now on Amazon Prime Video and has been screened before audiences in Europe and the USA, including a special event screening for lawmakers at the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Sarajevo Film Festival, the leading film festival in southeast Europe. He is a former Associated Press photo bureau chief in Bogotá, Colombia, and was a staff photographer at the Washington Times in Washington, D.C. He is the recipient of numerous awards for photography, video, multimedia and picture editing from the National Press Photographers’ Association, the White House News Photographers’ Association, Pictures of the Year International, American Society of Magazine Editors, Society of Newspaper Design, Society of Professional Journalists and the Virginia News Photographers Association. He was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1990 and 2008.
- Turning War Grief into Positive Peace; By Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), TAPS International
- Beyond Borders: Bringing Together the Global Community of Survivors; Published by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), TAPS Magazine, Winter 2018, Pages 22-23
- A Model for Supporting Grief Recovery Following Traumatic Loss: The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS); Published by Military Medicine, Volume 184, Issue 7-8, July-August 2019, Pages 166–170
- Screening for Complicated Grief in a Military Mental Health Clinic; Published by Military Medicine, Volume 182, Issue 9-10, September 2017, Pages e1751–e1756
- When Parent is Injured or Killed in Combat; By Holmes, Allison & Rauch, Paula & Cozza, Stephen. (2016).