Who we are
The story behind Center for Peaceful Solutions
Where it all started, and where we are today
In 2003, Maria Arpa's neighborhood of Kensal Rise, London hit an all-time low when a 7 year old girl was killed at the hands of a drug dealer. What followed was four years of shoot outs and killings. The problem was that the police put away a major drug dealer in an area which included a housing project half a mile away where drugs were the cheapest of anywhere in London which created a turf war between rival gangs.
In 2006, Maria founded the Centre for Peaceful Solutions as a direct response to the increase in drive by shootings on her road. By 2010 the charity had completed a three-year project to develop a model of mediation for violent crime and anti-social behavior. The work has taken Maria into some of the most socially-deprived areas of London where she has mediated everything from hostile parents and teenagers; pupils excluded from school and separated parents at loggerheads to neighbors at war; to street gang rivalries and threats to life.
Her work in the area has contributed to peace, and now Kensal Rise is considered one of the most desirable places to live.
Maria quickly realized that the best way forward is to share the skills and empower people to resolve conflict without ‘expert’ intervention. So, she trains local residents, especially those who have been responsible for violence to be mediators and facilitators in their communities in order to bring about healing. Without a healing process people cannot look forward.
Maria developed The Dialogue Road Map as a communications tool which transforms hostility, aggression and resistance into co-operation and contribution. Since 2013 Maria has been training ex-offenders in Hempstead, New York to use the Dialogue Road Map to prevent and de-escalate violence.
In 2016 Maria helped establish Center for Peaceful Solutions as a U.S. 501c3 nonprofit in the Village of Hempstead, New York based on her work in Hempstead since 2013.