Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Question and Answer Interview with Inafa’ Maolek Executive Director Christina Balajadia Noket

1. What is your mission (goals & objectives) at Inafa’ Maolek?
Inafa Maolek is a conflict resolution organization dedicated to reducing violence related litigation and fostering peace and harmony in schools, workplaces and communities. We will enhance peacemaking through advocacy, mediation and education.

2. What specific services does Inafa’ Maolek provide?


Mediation is a process in which two parties meet in a private, confidential setting to work out solutions to their conflict with the aid of a third party, neutral person, called a mediator. Inafa’ Maolek has been engaged in providing mediation services for our local community since 1983.
Our Inafa’ Maolek volunteer mediators are committed to creating a more peaceful community. This is evident through the many hours of their time and talent that they donate to assist other members of their community find peaceful solutions to their conflicts. Our volunteers have assisted thousands of people through their mediations of over 1400 cases to date.

Restorative Justice (RJ) is founded on the belief that the harm caused by crime represents a conflict between offenders and victims in a community context. RJ sessions provide a context within which people can take responsibility for their actions, restitution can be made to victims, offenders can be reintegrated, and harmony can be restored to a community. Through this safe and neutral process, the direct or indirect involvement of all parties affected by the offender’s actions opens communication. By opening the door of communication, the opportunity for understanding, compassion, reconciliation, and forgiveness can begin. The parties involved are empowered by participating in this form of justice, translating into a stronger, more cohesive community. People with strong ties to their communities are less likely to engage in destructive behavior. Building community capacities can provide youth with the “social web” necessary in order to make a successful transition back into their community.
Inafa’ Maolek has been involved in assisting our public schools with riot incidents between students. Our restorative justice facilitators have been called in to George Washington High School, Southern High School and Benavente Middle School, to name a few. Students involved in these incidents were given the opportunity to express their feelings about the incident and to listen to how these incidents have impacted others. Many of these sessions resulted in the youth gaining an understanding of the consequences of their actions and handshakes with each other.

3. Who is your target audience?

Our mediation services are targeted for those who would benefit from a neutral party to assist in the resolution of a conflict, including but not limited to employers, families, couples who are seeking divorce, etc.

4. What are your hours of operation and what is the best way for people to reach you that are interested in assistance?
The Inafa Maolek office is open Monday through Friday, 9:00AM--1:00PM and 2:00PM--4:30PM or by appointment.

5. In addition to direct services, what resources does Inafa’ Maolek offer?
We are committed to education.

PeaceTalk is our series of conferences that we offer to the community to help increase our knowledge about conflict resolution, mediation and peacemaking. We remain committed to creating the capacity for our community to Grow from Conflict into Inafa Maolek and look forward to the next 30 years.

Since 1994, Inafa’ Maolek has conducted over 200 Peer Mediation training sessions for youth in Guam’s schools and throughout the Pacific. The sessions focus on training participants to handle and assist in resolving the conflicts of their peers in hopes of attaining positive and long-lasting results in addition to relieving the bitter feelings that accompany conflicts, unlike many of the traditional disciplinary methods used in schools.

The training educates students on how to constructively and actively assist others through a variety of lectures, activities, and role plays. Through our efforts, we hope the participants will learn the responsibilities of a peer mediator, the underlying causes of conflict, guidelines for constructive conflict resolution, the elements of a fair resolution, and effective communication skills.

Although our trainings have taken a slower pace, due to the decreased funding available, our Founder and President Emeritus Patrick Wolff works diligently to source out possible partners to help us continue this program. Likewise, our board of directors, led by chairman Joey Lopez remains committed to supporting this program, a cornerstone of our menu of services.

We are happy to announce that we have been approved to provide training for 10 schools, which should be completed by the end of this fiscal year.

6. Thinking about current events, how do you foresee recent events in your field of work affecting your organization and its work?
There has been a lot of crime in the news recently. Inafa Maolek stands ready to assist with Restorative Justice services for victims of crime. Additionally, Inafa Maolek is preparing to train schools in peer mediation so that they are equipped to offer this program to their schools.

7.  Can you discuss your community partnerships and how they contribute to the overall success of Inafa’ Maolek individually.
Inafa Maolek relies heavily on its partnerships in the community. As a non profit organization, our partners help to spread awareness about Inafa Maolek and its services as well as contribute to the funding needed to keep the office open. Many of our cases get referred to us through our partners.

8. Can you touch on the history of Inafa’ Maolek and how the organization is set up?
Inafa Maolek was started in 1983 by three attorneys, Patrick Wolff, Charles Troutman and John Dierking. These attorneys wanted to provide the community with an alternative to litigation, especially in cases that deal with families and relationships. They decided that community mediation program, utilizing volunteer mediators would be an alternative that would work for Guam. They increased their capacity to offer the service by offering training for mediators. Inafa Maolek continues to offer these trainings to continue to increase our pool of mediators. 

The success of the community mediation program and increasing trend across the country of school based programs prompted Inafa Maolek to explore the idea of bringing a similar program into the schools. In 1997, the first peer mediation training was held at John F.Kennedy High School and since then, Inafa Maolek has conducted over 200 peer mediation trainings across the island.

9. Any upcoming plans or projects that our island community should be aware of?
We think outside of the box with our Peace Theater Program.

In 1997, three Inafa’ Maolek members attended a conference in Fort Worth, Texas on Conflict Resolution and watched a group called “The Vortex”. This group, under the direction of Dr. Merilyn Hetzel (Theatre Director at the Metropolitan State College of Denver), presented a 45-minute shop about conflict resolution. Patrick Wolff was impressed and aspired to benefit the people of Guam with similar performances. With the goal of creating a similar show on conflict resolution, an arrangement was made for Dr. Hetzel to come to Guam.

A cast of youthful, energetic individuals was formed and trained through a series of intense acting sessions in preparation for Inafa’ Maolek’s very first onstage performance, entitled “Pakyo, the Typhoon: Opportunity Riding on a Dangerous Wind”. Finally, the show debuted on August 1, 1997 with the aim of spreading awareness to sensitive youth issues, including bullying and dating violence. To date, this show is by far Inafa’ Maolek’s most popular and receives positive feedback from audiences of various demographics. Since its creation, a myriad of shows have been produced and performed that implement culturally relevant metaphors and personal experiences as their foundation.

The result is completely original and full-length shows without the aid of props, costumes, and sets specially designed for Guam audiences. Each member of the cast is proud of this work and knows that the audience will be too. The goal of Peace Theatre performances is for audiences to relate to the scenes and learn to prepare for and deal with conflicts throughout their lives.

We will be recruiting cast members for this program over the summer.

10. Why do you think the work you do is important to our island community and the world at large?
Inafa Maolek is among the few organizations that is dedicated to creating a more peaceful community. We have a lot of work to do to engage more partners and make peace a priority. We also need to increase our community's capacity to build peace. This can be done through training and education, policy changes, and direct services.

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