Turning Weapons into Tools and Art in Mozambique
For many years, the Christian Council of Mozambique (CCM) has been involved with emergency and relief projects, such as providing assistance and food aid to refugees and other displaced people. Now that peace has finally been achieved, the CCM has stepped up their efforts to make the population self-sufficient and at the same time encourage a peaceful and sustainable transition to peace.
In 1995, the CCM created the Tools for Arms Project so that weapons could be exchanged for productive, income-generating tools.
CUSO has been involved with this project since January, 1997. In 1998, the Canada Fund donated US$35,000 and CUSO agreed to monitor and administer the funds. In 1999, the Peace building Fund of the Canadian International Development Agency supported the project with Cdn$120,000, for a one year program.
The project has also received support from other countries including Sweden, Japan, and Germany. The projects' aims are to strengthen democracy and civil society by promoting reconciliation through encouraging the local population to participate in peacekeeping activities and by helping them to initiate and maintain productive activities.
The collection and destruction of weapons in exchange for tools also encourages social integration within the target group.
Trading Weapons for Tools
Qualified arms and ballistics specialists with the appropriate equipment destroy the weapons. The weapons are sawed into pieces. Safety is observed at all times by reassuring the community of their expertise and ensuring that only qualified personnel are permitted near the danger zones. Unexploded ordinances such as rockets, munitions, grenades, missiles and landmines are disposed of through a controlled environment so as not to pose any danger.
The project offers a wide range of incentives such as bicycles, sewing machines, welding machines and ploughs, to return arms and will take into consideration the various needs and interests of urban and rural settlements.
From Weapons to Art
The process of transforming arms into art pieces, ornaments or other useful objects is considered a method of promoting the culture of peace. Mozambican artists are invited to participate in building peace monuments and sculptures. These works of art are constructed from the pieces of weapons and are then exhibited or placed in public areas.
For more information, contact: Swords Into Ploughshares - TAE, Justice, Peace and Reconciliation Unit, Christian Council of Mozambique, Av. Amhed Sekou Toure # 1822, C.P. 108, Maputo, Mozambique. Email: amosse@isl. co.mz or aaachris@ hotmail.com