Between Daniel’s death October 12th 2002, and his burial in the UK on November 16th, Alex Braden conceived the idea for the trust, and developed it with other family members and Daniel’s partner Jun Hirst. An application for charitable status was fast-tracked by the UK Charity Commission, and by February 2003, Encompass (The Daniel Braden Reconciliation Trust) was registered and operational.
In May 2003, with the help of Richard Gozny (British Ambassador to Indonesia) and Heroe Soeprapto, Head of YEPE (a young People’s Pioneer Association in Indonesia), Alex toured ministries and Islamic schools in Indonesia and helped to select eight young people for the first “Journey of Understanding”.
It took place in May of that year, on the tall ship “Prince William” (sailing from Waterford), and involved other participants from the UK and Eire. Subsequently the trust turned its attention to recruiting from the Middle East, one of the most conflicted areas in the world, after an ex-Israeli soldier had taken part in the 2nd “Journey of Understanding”.
Involving Israeli, Arab-Israeli, English, Irish and Britons of Pakistani Origin, the 3rd “Journey of Understanding” (in 2004) was the first truly international programme. In 2005, the trust took the decision to relocate its work from the tall ships that it had used since its inception, to dry land. It opted for Outward Bound Trust centres in Scotland and Wales which offered facilities for challenging physical activity, and space for workshops and discussion groups.
The organisation expanded into the Palestinian Territories, sourced American participants, sought to achieve an equal mix of genders and views (ranging from the liberal to the extreme), and increased the lower age limit for participants from 16 to 18.
By 2008, with the addition of Eric Appleby as CEO, and Andrea Miles’ and Neville Pressley’s appointments to the Board, the trust (up until then a purely family-run charitable concern) had shifted up a gear to become a fully-fledged, professionally managed operation.
Meanwhile, ex-alumni moved into coordinator roles in different countries; the selection, preparation, “Journey of Understanding” and post-journey phases were fully formalised; and a firm relationship was established with Syracuse University in the US which was cemented when Encompass moved into offices in the UK campus building.
With the appointment of new staff in 2011, the trust rapidly expanded its work into non-residential programmes in the UK; it consolidated its operation in the Palestinian Territories; and it forged a new partnership with a youth organisation in Pakistan, thus extending its operations to six countries.
October 12th 2012 marked the 10th Anniversary of the Bali bombings and Daniel’s death. It was a day of deep sadness for Daniel’s family and friends, and the wider community of Encompass.
But it was also a day which re-invigorated everyone’s resolve to build bridges, to work for reconciliation around the world, and to honour Daniel’s memory.
Who can say what the next ten years will bring. But if the level of commitment, determination and dedication which everyone has shown during this inaugural decade is maintained, the next stage in the trust’s journey will be equally exciting, eventful and fulfilling.