M.T.E., Petra Client*
PEACEBUILDING PROJECT MANAGER
“As a peacebuilder in a war-torn country you are swimming against the tide—your family, society and cultural tides.
All that swimming against the tides had taken a toll on me. Life became hard for me as I couldn’t do the simple things which I could do in the past. Through my line-manager I heard about Petra Peacebuilders, and I connected with my Petra coach.
During the past year I have learned a lot from my coach and have shared a lot of things with her, things that I couldn’t share with anyone. Petra Peacebuilders has a unique approach, since they fully understand the struggles of a peacebuilder in a war-torn and conflict-ridden country.
My coach listened to me, understood my situation and encouraged me to bring changes in my life by making better choices and decisions. She let me know that I am not alone in struggling with bringing peaceful changes to my life and country.”
Hilary Jo Caldis, Petra Client
Founder & Ceo
The Female Voice
"No matter how driven one is to change the world for the better, progress cannot be made without a solid plan that takes into account not just visions and strengths, but ground level realities and personal limitations.
Coaching with Petra has allowed me to marry these two sides of the coin to make continual progress on my vision without the burnout and self-sacrifice I had become so used to working as a peacebuilder and entrepreneur. Indeed, the support gained through coaching has been transformative in how it has enabled me to accomplish goals in a healthier and more sustainable manner.
Moreover, it has engrained in me a new working mindset of realism and resilience in accomplishing my grander vision. The sky is the limit when dreams of the sky get channeled into the ground through a solid plan and mindset that keeps energy alive and channeled in the right direction.
Petra Peacebuilders has enabled me to do this."
President, International Peace and Security Institute (IPSI)
Rotary Peace Fellow, 2006-2008
"Building personal and organizational resilience, as well as teaching the core skills of self-care, are just as important to the long-term success of peacebuilding and development practitioners and projects as the classic skills taught in higher education. In fact, resilience and self-care may be more important.
Petra's mission could not be more critical."
Elizabeth Drevlow, PETRA CLIENT
Chief of Section, Child Protection
"One of the most common issues facing aid workers -- no matter what the country, agency, or contract -- is long hours and burnout. Having worked more than 15 years in social services and over 7 years in the humanitarian field, my concern is continually for co-workers who give their all to the cause of helping others and in the process often lose themselves.
Petra Peacebuilders fills a vital gap in the support available to helping the helpers. They provide personalised services and strategies that inspire self-care and personal vision, and in turn co-labor to create happier, more productive personnel who can then influence the societies around them, which are also in need of serious care."
Ron Wiley, MS, MA, PhD
Educator, INGO Leader
Restorative Justice Facilitator, Conflict Resolution PractitioneR
“We know that 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,' but how well is the international development sector abiding by this? As a peacemaker and restorative practices practitioner, I treasure the preventive investment required to keep sacrificial peacebuilders thriving and engaged in their costly but vital work. Rare are those with the heart to come alongside, to support, encourage, engage and equip aid workers, peacebuilders, and their families to maximize their passion for peace and growth in a sustainable way.
Petra Peacebuilders is among the rarest of the rare. Having worked alongside Petra's founding director Bianca Neff, I have witnessed firsthand her commitment to the nurture and well-being of organizational leaders and other professionals in the international peacebuilding sector. The gifted foundation on which Petra Peacebuilders is built uniquely qualifies this organization to offer sustaining resilience support in life-giving ways.
Both Petra Peacebuilders and the international peacebuilders and global aid workers it serves deserve our support in every possible way! We can ill afford to neglect the needs that Petra was created to meet. We as the international community must view Petra's work as an indispensable part of the global peacebuilding endeavor, and we should ask ourselves why we haven't focused more of our energy and resources into resilience sooner."
Opata Peter Paul
Executive Secretary, HIV/AIDS Department
Uganda Episcopal Conference, Uganda Catholic Secretariat
Rotary Peace Fellow, 2010-2011
"I am very pleased to share some thoughts about the importance of the work being undertaken by Petra Peacebuilders among aid and development workers.
A few years ago, almost by mistake, I came into development work within the realm of peacebuilding. This was at the peak of the insurgency in Uganda with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. I encountered a young man who had been abducted and kept within rebel ranks for a few years. He managed to escape captivity and returned with an arm less. According to his narration, his arm had been chopped off as a deterrent to anyone harboring the idea of escaping. In his case, after chopping off his arm, he was made to carry it tacked in his pocket for two weeks during which time the flesh had decomposed and developed an unimaginable stench.
As I sat listening to this young man, barely 15 years old, I shivered and for several weeks following that field trip, I had nightmares and dreaded the thought of returning to the field to the work I deeply cherished and had felt so blessed to be doing. Honestly, as the years have gone by, I made peace with that experience. But what I went through during that time, whenever there were atrocities meted out on communities or indeed whenever I read and watched what was happening in many other parts of the world, made me empathize with the frontline development workers who were doing their best to restore hope and bring meaning to the multitudes encountering disasters -- be it natural disasters, political conflict or any other forms of emergencies and upheavals that seem to characterize our world order to date.
I can only imagine now that if there was someone providing care for me then or to the many development workers out there who unavoidably encounter these horrifying stories or actually even witness firsthand the many challenges people go through every day, perhaps it would be easier to cope with the stress and the tensions that come with this work. I therefore cannot overemphasize the significance and important difference the work that Petra Peacebuilders makes in preventing and healing the wounds of humanitarian/aid/development workers out there in so many crucial parts of the world. I truly hope this work finds an important place in our sector and gains the recognition and support it deserves.”
F.S., PETRA CLIENT*
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
"I was a client of Petra's executive director Bianca Neff even before Petra's existence and her coaching services helped me through a very difficult time while I was working for an NGO in Angola. I was especially able to connect through her helpful metaphors about ways to handle the daily challenges in the field, cultural as well as the relationship with my boss, who was my only close colleague. Simply put, the tools really made sense to me!
I’m still using some of those images from our sessions today, working as a Delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Keeping a healthy balance in my life as a humanitarian is key, it keeps me from getting frustrated and allows me to overcome cultural differences when coordinating intercultural teams. And I continue passing on some of my coach's metaphor to colleagues, keeping in mind ‘my precious source.’
Each and every one of us has hidden sources of energy to overcome the challenges we all face in the field, but it takes a professional to help you identify them and finally act. The type of coaching intervention that Petra Peacebuilders provides helped me make the most out of what I have within me."
* Some names and organizations cannot appear for security reasons.