BANGUI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Blindfolds secured tightly, more than a dozen men and women are led by their partners around leafy plants and trees in the compound of an international charity in the Central African Republic’s capital, Bangui.
The occasional stumble sends nervous laughter around the group of Christians and Muslims who have been paired up at random for the experiment – an exercise in building trust between communities torn apart by conflict. At the end of the session, those guiding the ‘blind’ along cracked concrete and pebble paths spoke of having to be patient, responsible and compassionate.
The workshop involves the participants sharing some characteristics they appreciate in each other, switching seamlessly between French and the local language Sangho.
It ends with discussions on how they could uproot mistrust in their communities. On an easel, the participants wrote that they planned to provide ‘sincere apologies,’ ‘love,’ ‘trust,’ and ‘dialogue’ in order to ‘search for common ground’.