Member of the Nimba Pen-Pen Peace Network
Aloysius Seakel works with the Liberian Motorcycle Transport Union and is an original member and chairman of a locally led group in Nimba County, Liberia, called the Nimba Pen-Pen Peace Network (PPPN). This group, which is supported by the Purdue Peace Project (PPP), formed in 2016 to work toward building peace and reducing the likelihood of violence leading up to and after the Oct. 10, 2017 elections in Liberia.
Aloysius became involved with the Nimba PPPN after a PPP-supported workshop in the area, which invited local motorcycle taxi drivers (also called pen-pen riders), police officers, members of the Ministry of Transport, and other people within the community to discuss ways to overcome violence and tension in the community.
“I got involved with the Nimba Pen-Pen Peace Network because of the word peace. Peace is something that we all identify,” Aloysius said. “We see when we are living together in peace things go on very fine with everybody. The Pen-Pen Peace Network is a network that is formulated to make sure it coordinates peace among the cyclists and coordinates peace among the police and the community. Because of that idea, I had to join the Pen-Pen Peace Network.”
During his time in the group, the Nimba PPPN has conducted a number of activities such as town hall meetings, an awareness program, and a confidence building week, which is a series of events including a peace march, a soccer tournament, and other games that work to bring people from all over the community together in the context of building peace.
One issue that the Nimba PPPN works on is reducing the existing tensions between police officers and pen-pen riders. Aloysius said that one of his most memorable experiences as a member of the Nimba PPPN so far has been to see the network’s work having an impact in bridging these tensions, such as when he saw the police and pen-pen riders interacting peacefully with each other during and after their confidence building week activities. He mentioned that the most significant change as a result of the activities has been togetherness and peace.
When Aloysius hears the word peace, he says to him it means “no violence, it means no more [violent] atmosphere, it means love, it means sharing, it means just the way that God has created us to live normally.”
He takes his leadership role in the Nimba PPPN seriously and asserted that leaders must be patient, take the time to help others, and be down to earth with people. Being a peacebuilder means many important things to Aloysius, including “seeing our atmosphere to be peaceful, where people will be jubilating and will be safe.”
He is looking forward to the future of Liberia and the work of the Nimba PPPN, as they plan to continue their activities to maintain peace and strengthen the community’s minds toward peace. He likens this goal to building a house, where you must have a strong foundation and “build the house so the house can stand strong to withstand the storm.”