Violence limits the ability of communities to flourish. In 2005, Concern Worldwide made the decision to partner with Glencree Center for Peace and Reconciliation to create a micro peace process that would enable development work to be more effective in the community of St Martin.
During this process, it became apparent that the violence in St Martin had many external and frequently invisible actors, some from the private sector and others from the political sectors. Over the next few years, different actors in St Martin were brought together forging improbable relationships. The process was proven to have impact when in 2008, during the food riots, gang members publicly expressed they were more interested in engaging in dialogue with the private sector then getting involved in violent protest. While in other areas, businesses were damaged, not one was touched in areas that were engaged in the process of dialogue.
Strong relationships of trust were forged and it created possibilities for collaborations across sectors, and ultimately albeit temporary but still a big reduction of violence in St Martin. It became understood that an important aspect of durable reduction of gang related violence was dependent on transforming leadership. This process lead to a number of study visits to Ireland and training in Haiti by Irish actors, politicians, business people and former combatants. Visitors included:
- Gang leaders.
- members of civil society
- private sector actors
- police officers
- arts and culture sector members
The experiences lived in Saint Martin and the examples of successful processes witnessed in Ireland inspired the official creation of Lakou Lapè in 2013.