At AJAR, we believe that a lack of information leads to prejudice and apathy, and education is the key to transformation. The AJAR Learning Centre was established in 2009 as a reflection and learning space for grassroots communities and their leaders to develop capacities, mark progress to build peace, improve lives, and rebuild communities broken by conflict. The AJAR Learning Centre is committed to working with these communities, helping them to connect meaningfully with policy-makers in order to articulate their needs.
Named Kampung Damai (meaning “peaceful village” in Indonesian), AJAR Learning Centre is situated on the southern coast of Bali, Indonesia and is a five-minute walk to the beach. Buildings at the centre are made from recycled wood and can comfortably accommodate 15-28 people. A library and high-speed Internet connection are available for individuals who come and stay at the training centre.
AJAR provides learning sessions as well as support for training and curriculum development that is custom-designed to meet the needs of participants. AJAR also organises national, regional and international meetings of experts which aim to contribute to building a human rights movement and a culture of accountability, particularly within the framework of transitional justice.
AJAR Learning Centre has helped to create communities of human rights leaders in Asia. At Kampung Damai, we bring together community leaders, lawyers, teachers and academics, researchers, NGO representatives as well as governmental and non-governmental experts to enable the sharing and development of their knowledge and experiences. This network of over 600 human rights practitioners or defenders has played critical roles in making their communities better places to live for the most vulnerable and marginalised.
The Learning Centre team is active in developing training curricula for peace and justice leaders and advocates. This includes topics such as social analysis and designing innovations at the community level, peace-building and human rights, basic legal aid, and other advanced skills or methodology for advocacy. The AJAR Learning Centre is a place where participatory methodologies are applied and respected. For our training series, we invite and draw from a diverse group of participants, including representatives of various ethnic and religious backgrounds who are able to explore the impact of conflict on their communities. The training process helps participants to identify their learning needs, express their stories on violence and oppression, expand their knowledge and understanding, and formulate an action plan for strategic advocacy.
Activities and Courses
Specific activities that AJAR Learning Centre has organised since 2015 include:
- Short courses on human rights and transitional justice in Jakarta, Indonesia and Timor-Leste;
- Producing the Chega! comic books based on CAVR, the Timorese Truth Commission, for educational purposes;
- An educational exchange on human rights issues with Pakistani government officials and civil society members;
- A workshop on capacity-building with the Aceh Truth and Reconciliation Commission;
- Programs on capacity-building for communities in Buru Island, Kupang, Makassar, Maumere, Papua, Pidie and Yogyakarta;
- Gender Justice Training for activists, practitioners, and educators who work with women recovering from violence;
- A bi-annual course Foundations for Peace: Revisiting Transitional Justice and Accountability in Asia;
- An online course on human rights and transitional justice for youth in Bangladesh held in 2020;
- A workshop for the Stolen Children of Timor-Leste held in 2020;
- The development of the Foundations for Peace: Transitional Justice in Asian Contexts online course held in November and December of 2020.
AJAR and AJAR Learning Centre aim to help workshop and training participants develop skills and knowledge necessary for helping survivors of human rights violations improve their communities and advocate for transitional justice and accountability for these acts of violence. In conducting trainings and workshops, participants learned about several methods that can be used in creating discussions about transitional justice and healing after human rights violations have occurred. These tools have included: the stone and flowers training, memory boxes, photo storytelling, community mapping, community timeline and resource mapping.
Reflections from participants in workshops and training at AJAR Learning Centre have provided the ajar team with an assessment of these activities and methods. Participants have reflected on their work with survivors, finding that developing skills in helping survivors, engaging in self-care, and learning about basic principles can help them more effectively do their work and not harm the survivors.