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Published on Jan 11, 2013
Libby Hoffman Libby believes that the very individuals and communities most directly affected by war and violence should be the ones to lead their own rebuilding process after war—that the solutions to a community's problems, even when that community has been devastated by war and poverty, exist within the community itself. Mobilizing them doesn't require outside experts swooping in telling people what to do (or worse -- doing it for them), but instead comes from creating the space for the already existing wisdom and expertise to emerge and grow. And when this localized wisdom is allowed to lead, the result can yield stories and lessons of global significance, stories which can inspire transformative thought and action even in very different kinds of settings. That's the impetus behind Libby's work at Catalyst for Peace, the Portland, Maine-based private foundation she founded and has led since 2003. Catalyst's full focus now is on Fambul Tok (which means "family talk" in Krio), the program Libby helped start in 2007 with renowned Sierra Leonean human rights activist John Caulker. Fambul Tok brings victims and perpetrators from Sierra Leone's brutal 11-year civil war together for the first time in village-level, tradition-based ceremonies of truth-telling, apology and forgiveness. In the process, Fambul Tok reknits the war-torn community fabric, helping heal the wounds of war and build the foundations for sustainable peace and development. To bring the stories and lessons of this work to the world, Catalyst for Peace produced the award-winning documentary film, Fambul Tok, and a companion book of the same name (published by Umbrage Editions), both released in 2011. Libby's work now focuses on finding ways to help the world engage with the lessons of justice, forgiveness, and community restoration embodied by Fambul Tok.
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