In June, Clinica Verde nurse Yessica Solano and Administrator David Narvaez were invited by the Strachan Foundation to attend a conference on restorative practices in Costa Rica. Here, Yessica shares her experience.
My experience in the IIRP Latin American conference in June was wonderful and enriching. I was able to share with so many people who are working towards making a change. Getting to know the experiences of different organizations that deal with restorative practices changed my way of thinking and how I can be restorative with me, my colleagues, with young boys and girls, and with the community.
On June 6th, I participated in the first session, which was about inclusive dialogues on family cycles with Marisol Ramírez and Nancy Guadalupe. This session made me understand that family is a river that is fed by many channels, and it is up to me whether or not I flow in a positive or negative way. Additionally, it taught me the importance of offering a safe space to our children for their healthy growth. But most importantly, it taught me how to generate inclusive dialogues in the family where all the members have something to contribute.
The Second Session was “The Best is Yet to Come,” with Terry Oconel.
We learned that we can all experience positive and negative processes and that it depends on us to separate positive emotions from the negative ones. In this way, we can develop true emotions that will last for life and we can see the future with hope.
The Third Session was “Better than Carrots and Stick,” with Dominique Smith and Sephun Dobi.
There was a testimony shared by a young boy that was very good and motivating. He described his experiences in different schools. He was expelled due to his bad behavior until he got to a school that worked with restorative practices. The school cared about his feelings and took into consideration the way he was feeling. This is the point where his life turned around. There is a great importance placed in emotional statements in order to build positive relationships with teenagers and young boys and girls.
The Fourth Session was “Confluence between Faith and Restorative Practices,” with Max Chinchilla.
During this session, I learned that the restorative practices are closely related to faith; therefore, we need to make faith grow in our lives. There is biblical evidence in the use of restorative practices in the Old Testament. In order to claim that we are restorative we have to put into practice our faith because faith can do anything. Faith transforms our lives, it promotes forgiveness and voluntary repair, and especially it produces harmony with oneself and with the others.
The rest of the conference was equally motivating and interesting. We learned how to be restorative with oneself, with colleagues, with customers, and with the community.
We also learned from one facilitator about work being done in Colombia with lawbreakers and their families. The speaker showed how knowing how to train and develop empathy is essential to live in a society in conflict.
There is a huge importance placed on the capacity to know how to understand our neighbor and do everything possible to help him or her, and together find possible solutions. What is the role we are playing as a person and as an organization in families? We worked on a list based on these questions: What are the barriers to collaboration with professionals? And, what are the barriers to collaboration with families? I came to the conclusion that every barrier can be overcome; it just depends on the disposition and my own flexibility and that of my colleagues. Above all, it is important to empower families so they become protagonists in their own lives.
Yessica Solana is a nurse at Clinica Verde who helps lead our TeenSmart collaboration, which trains teens to be peer counselors in sexual reproductive health.