Maria Biedrawa: Tireless peace work in Africa

Peace Award Winner 2024: Pioneering Peace Work

Maria Biedrawa works with people who are not familiar with words like peace or justice. Neither they nor their parents or grandparents have learnt that conflicts can be resolved peacefully or that justice can be done to people. She works tirelessly and personally for peace on the African continent.

The social worker has been active in various contexts and countries in Africa for 20 years. Her work is voluntary and involves a high level of personal commitment. Her work essentially covers three areas. Firstly, she provides trauma counselling. A wide range of conflicts and armed disputes leave the civilian population with diverse and complex traumas. By coming to terms with these terrible experiences, co-operation and social co-existence become possible again.

To prevent conflicts, she also offers trainings in the principles and methods of non-violence. One impressive example was the training with young adults in South Sudan in 2016, where the young people explained that none of them had learnt about peace or justice, neither they nor their parents' or grandparents' generation. With Maria Biedrawa's support, they developed materials to bring these topics closer to other young people.

And finally, interfaith dialogue is of crucial importance in her work. Religion and spirituality play a major role on the African continent. Maria Biedrawa herself acts out of a deep personal faith and promotes interfaith dialogue. Her commitment is ecumenical in scope. Thanks to her great interreligious sensitivity and her respect for other religions, she succeeds in interreligious work, which is extremely important for African countries. In this way, she achieves religiously based empowerment in various contexts.

Involving the local population is an important principle in Maria Biedrawa's work. She sets processes in motion and then forms teams that learn and advance the knowledge and skills of peace work. This ensures respect among the population and the inclusion of their cultural roots. It strictly avoids imposing solutions in the sense of a culture of dominance, instead focussing on listening and negotiation through dialogue. She has built up a reliable network through various local cooperation partners.

The Austrian Maria Biedrawa lives in France. She is a trained social pedagogue and logotherapist, has undergone further training in non-violent conflict resolution and is a member of the French branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.


France | African Countries

Proposed by:
Annette Nauerth

Conflict Resolution / Reconciliation | Human Rights

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