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Bringing Peace Education to Zones of Armed Conflict

In late 2012 and early 2013, Tanenbaum used world-shrinking technology to work with our Peacemakers in Indonesia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. With their help, we trained 55 local school teachers in multicultural education principles that encourage openness to differences. Tanenbaum created culturally adapted??, — and reusable — educational materials, while our Peacemakers Jacky Manuputty (Indonesia), Jamila Afghani (Afghanistan), and Imam Muhammed Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye (Nigeria), coordinated local educators.

Involved teachers and principals have clamored for more training.

We spoke with each of the Peacemakers about the long-term impact of these trainings.

Jamila described what happened in Kabul:

"One of the teachers that received the training is my son’s teacher. She is from a different ethnic group and, before the training, bullied my son and others from our ethnic group. Now, my son says the teacher is very different – kind and caring. Now he is enjoying learning; going to school. Before, he was crying when he had to go to school. But now he insists on going to school, even on days where there are security issues and it’s not safe to be out on the street. These days he cries when he can’t go to school.

"After the training with Tanenbaum, I received calls from three principals. They said the training, although outside of official program, was very good and had very much changed the teachers who participated. The principals saw that the training recipients are now spreading concepts of respect inside the school with other teachers and students. This has had a very good impact on the whole environment of the schools. One of the principals requested such a training for the rest of the teachers. It seems everyone has become interested to join such a training.

"And now, I plan to have trainings with the teachers of these three schools.

"If you do a little bit of sparkling in Afghanistan, everybody rushes towards that. After people heard about the training, I received many requests from many other schools and teachers. I was feeling bad that I only had one Tanenbaum training. It was like I brought a great sparkling and now there is big demand. Unfortunately, I cannot bring the training to everyone."

This wide-scale impact was not limited to the Afghani teachers.

In Nigeria, the principal of a government secondary school, Ms. Mairo Bello, thanked Muhammad Ashafa for bringing the training. She told him that now, she is working to set up a school-wide unit that will facilitate the concept of appreciating diversity throughout the school.

And in Indonesia, some of the training participants invited Jacky Manuputty and his team to replicate the training for everyone in their schools. Thus far, Jacky has conducted four more trainings, reaching another 50 Indonesian educators (evenly split between Muslim and Christian teachers). Meanwhile, more and more schools are calling – keeping Jacky busy.

We created the program to introduce Tanenbaum’s peace and multicultural education program to educators in three conflict zones where differences, including those based on religion and race, is a source of tension.

We have met and arguably exceeded our initial goal. But there is so much more to do.

Peace the only way to honour Nelson Mandela

According to CBS News, Nelson Mandela is responding to treatment.

South African President Jacob Zuma, who recently visited him in the hospital, said "We are encouraged that Madiba is responding to treatment and urge the public to continue providing support and showering him with love which gives him and the family strength."

Several weeks ago, Tanenbaum Peacemaker in Action Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, wrote a moving piece about Mandela (his clan name is "Madiba") published by South Africa's Sunday Tribune.

Click here to read the tribute, aptly titled "Peace the only way to honour Nelson Mandela." 

Being resilient in the face of hell

On Sunday, I posted a blog entry that unofficially kicked off the Peacemakers in Action retreat. In that entry, I promised to update you as much as I could about the retreat happenings. Unsurprisingly, the agenda has been packed, but now I have time to share one of the stories I heard.

On Sunday, Bill Lowrey delivered a session on personal resiliency. Why is personal resiliency important for peace activists? Bill's experiences answer that question quite completely.

Bill has been involved in tribal peace work in southern Sudan for over 20 years. In those years, Bill and his family sometimes lived in Sudan – and sometimes in the United States. In both locations, his and his family's lives were at risk. While in Sudan, his wife and daughter narrowly escaped an aerial bombing. And Bill was subject to consistent death threats and plots against his life. All of that doesn't even account for the times when Bill was working with militia leaders to change their attitudes towards the conflict. In those instances, he was often in the middle of battle zones.

Even when he returned to the United States, individuals loyal to his enemies in Sudan sent him death threats here, stating that they were perfectly capable of killing him and his family at home in Virginia. These threats were intended to make sure Bill knew that he and his family were at risk anywhere.

Fortunately, Bill and his family were not physically harmed, but the emotional and psychological toll of this stress was substantial.

In his training to the other Peacemakers in attendance, Bill delivered a strategy for managing the stress and weight that comes with working for peace in the midst of the world's most devastating conflicts. The training participants were comforted to know that they are not alone in their experiences and were invigorated to learn about ways to help overcome the personally negative impacts of combating violence.

 

Mike Ward
Communications Manager

 

 

Your eyes & ears for an inspirational week with Peacemakers

Dear reader,

This week is Tanenbaum's 2013 Peacemakers in Action retreat.

Last night our Peacemakers began arriving to Stony Point Center, a multifaith space just a short, scenic drive north of Tanenbaum's New York office. The setting is brilliant. There's a Japanese meditation garden just outside our door, green spaces scattered throughout the grounds, and beautifully wooded areas beyond the green spaces.

I must confess; when I found out I would work the retreat this week, I was unusually excited. My masters is in conflict resolution and I love learning about different cultures. The men and women who traveled here from around the world have collective perspectives and experiences that I know I will never find elsewhere.

Last night, one of the Peacemakers who works in Pakistan told a story that made me stop and say, “I had no idea.” Did you know that many conservative Muslims in Pakistan choose to send their children to Christian schools? I didn't and I wanted to know more.

I asked if he could give me an example of Muslims sending their children to Christian schools. His first response was, “It's just general knowledge. It happens all the time.”

I said, “It's new to me – and I'd guess to many in the West.” Then, after thinking for a moment, he relayed this story to me.

He began, “I know an imam who is Wahabi, an ultraconservative branch of Islam.”

“Is he conservative for a Wahabi, or is he progressive for his tradition?” I asked.

“Oh, he is very conservative, even for a Wahabi,” was the response. “I know him well. I even lived in his home for a number of months over the past 8 years. He has one daughter. In the 8 years I have known him and the months I lived in his home, I never once met his daughter or wife. Quite conservative.”

“I'd say,” I offered.

The Peacemaker continued, “He has two sons. Both of them go to a Christian school because of the good education. As a matter of fact, his daughter goes to a Christian school too.”

And to show that this sense of respect springs from more than an interest in quality education, the Peacemaker shared that, all over the country, seminary and madrassa students volunteer and assist at each other's houses of worship. There is an ingrained respect between Muslims and Christians in a country that is (unfairly) known for only conflict. That's not to say that there isn't extremism or conflict in Pakistan, but a groundwork for constructive interreligious relations does exist. It just needs to be recognized, supported, and spread.

And so I witnessed first hand that by bringing these Peacemakers together this week – from Pakistan, Nigeria, Honduras, Indonesia, Syria, Bosnia, Sudan, Ethiopia, South Africa, Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel – Tanenbaum is building the bridges that make us all safe from conflict.

I promise you that this week will be inspirational. And I promise to share as much of that inspiration as I can. Check back here, on Tanenbaum's blog, for updates. Or follow us on Twitter. I'll pull some of the best quotes of the week and post them there.

Until next time…
 

Mike Ward
Communications Manager

Our Peacemakers in the News

Check out the many news oultets that are reporting about the work of Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action:
 

Jamila Afghani, Afghanistan

Jamila is in the running to receive the Role Models for Peace Award. Cast your vote for her here:
http://www.n-peace.net/candidates
 

Betty Bigombe, Uganda

Betty and two other MPs were recently confronted by a group of armed youth angry about land policies in Amuru. Betty had just returned from a meeting with the Madhvani Group, which is seeking land for sugarcane plantations. The MPs reaffirmed that anyone who wants to invest in the land must first consult its residents.
http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Amuru-youth-charge-at-MPs-over-land-giveaway/-/688334/1842762/-/fog4h8/-/index.html?utm_source=feedly

The new Betty Bigombe Foundation launched its website. The website describes the Foundation’s work in agriculture projects to benefit the victims of the LRA war.
http://bigombefoundation.org/

 

Rev. Canon Andrew White, Iraq

During a recent trip to Israel, Andrew spoke optimistically about a group of hardline Iranian Shi’ite clerics who desired to meet with Israelis. He also discussed the widespread violence that permeates post-invasion Iraq, though he remains hopeful that peace will one day return to Iraq.
http://www.timesofisrael.com/the-vicar-of-baghdad-comes-to-jerusalem-andrew-white/

 

Sakena Yacoobi, Afghanistan

ABC News interviewed Sakena and Kristen Lindsey, CEO of the Global Fund for Children, about the partnership between the Afghan Institute of Learning and the Global Fund for Children. Watch the video here.
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources&id=9055138

Sakena writes about the quiet revolution which marks the development of a women’s network in Afghanistan, and how this network begins in community learning centers like the Afghan Institute of Learning.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/afghan-institute-of-learning/a-quiet-transformation-af_b_3240860.html

Sakena also delivered the keynote address for the “Nurturing Peace in Contexts of Global Violence” conference in New York City, which Tanenbaum co-sponsored. Our thanks go out to Sakena for speaking at the conference and sharing her message with a new generation of religious leaders and educators.
http://cspur.nyts.edu/nurturing-peace/conference-schedule/

 

José “Chencho” Alas, El Salvador

Chencho welcomed a class of theology students to El Salvador, where he taught them about liberation theology and the theology of peace as he currently understands it. After their visit, they wrote blog posts reflecting upon their experiences.
http://www.emmanuel.utoronto.ca/about/news/Emmanuel_College_in_El_Salvador.htm

 

Jacky Manuputty, Indonesia

The Christian Science Monitor traced the development of the “Peace Provocateurs” and Jacky’s role in stabilizing religious tensions in Ambon. Though the society is not yet fully healed, Jacky maintains his optimism that eventually, Christians and Muslims will exist in a state of unwavering peacefulness.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2013/0508/Provoking-peace-in-Indonesia

 

Archbishop Abuna Elias Chacour, Israel/Palestine

Archbishop Chacour speaks about his disappointment over the Arab Spring, as Christians and minorities suffer the greatest. He states that the Arab Spring’s violence and bloodshed will not create a favorable environment for the proliferation of non-totalitarian regimes.
http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/nations/israel/2013/05/28/Syria-Christians-greatest-victims-bloodshed-Chacour_8779325.html

 

Dishani Jayaweera, Sri Lanka

Dishani and her partners have launched a project called “Growing Roots.” They plan to use natural building techniques to “create a physical and psychological space where Sri Lankans and international guests can come together and open their minds, their hearts and grow towards the concept of interdependence.”
http://www.pozible.com/project/21750

Laws repressing religious freedom worldwide: News Roundup

Countries around the world, including allies of the United States, have used laws on blasphemy and apostasy to suppress political opponents, the State Department said on Monday in an annual report chronicling a grim decline in religious freedom that has resulted in rising bigotry and sectarian violence.

The report singled out eight countries for particularly egregious and systemic repression of religious rights: China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. In China, the report said, religious freedoms declined in the last year, highlighted by punitive actions against Christians, Muslims and Buddhists in Tibet, where 82 monks, nuns or laypeople killed themselves in acts of self-immolation last year.

Proliferating laws against blasphemy or apostasy, including in several countries undergoing political transitions after the Arab spring, are not protecting religions, as officials often claim, but rather targeting other faiths, at times selectively.  New York Times

Leaders of Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims reacted with horror and anger following Wednesday’s (May 22) slaughter with knives and machetes of an off-duty British soldier in the streets outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in south London.

A statement from the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the slaughter of the soldier by two men – both believed to be Christian converts to Islam – as “a barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and which we condemn unreservedly.”

Abdullah al Andalusi, a spokesman for the Muslim Debate Initiative, which brings together Islamic scholars and researchers in the U.K., said: “These people claimed they killed the soldier in the name of protecting others from UK foreign policy. But if what they claim is true, they have acted no differently from the crimes they claim they wish to see stopped.”  Religion News Service

Even with some legal protections in place, Afghan women, and sometimes even little girls, can be sold to pay family debts. In the country’s vast rural areas, just talking to a man who is not a close relative can be punishable by death. And in some places, girls are routinely married at puberty.

And now, preserving any protections long-term appears to be in question, as the country’s tiny women’s rights movement faces an unenviable decision: leave intact the only law that attempts to halt such abuses, or continue to present changes to Parliament and run the risk that a growing conservative bloc could dismantle the law entirely.  New York Times

Atheists and other nonbelievers largely welcomed Wednesday’s (May 22) remarks by Pope Francis that performing “good works” is not the exclusive domain of people of faith, but rather a place where they and atheists could and should meet.

In a private homily, Francis described doing good not as a matter of faith, but of “duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”

Then, referring to non-Catholics and nonbelievers, he said, “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”  Religion News Service

Laws repressing religious freedom worldwide: News Roundup

Countries around the world, including allies of the United States, have used laws on blasphemy and apostasy to suppress political opponents, the State Department said on Monday in an annual report chronicling a grim decline in religious freedom that has resulted in rising bigotry and sectarian violence.

The report singled out eight countries for particularly egregious and systemic repression of religious rights: China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. In China, the report said, religious freedoms declined in the last year, highlighted by punitive actions against Christians, Muslims and Buddhists in Tibet, where 82 monks, nuns or laypeople killed themselves in acts of self-immolation last year.

Proliferating laws against blasphemy or apostasy, including in several countries undergoing political transitions after the Arab spring, are not protecting religions, as officials often claim, but rather targeting other faiths, at times selectively.  New York Times

Leaders of Britain’s 2.8 million Muslims reacted with horror and anger following Wednesday’s (May 22) slaughter with knives and machetes of an off-duty British soldier in the streets outside the Royal Artillery Barracks in south London.

A statement from the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the slaughter of the soldier by two men – both believed to be Christian converts to Islam – as “a barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and which we condemn unreservedly.”

Abdullah al Andalusi, a spokesman for the Muslim Debate Initiative, which brings together Islamic scholars and researchers in the U.K., said: “These people claimed they killed the soldier in the name of protecting others from UK foreign policy. But if what they claim is true, they have acted no differently from the crimes they claim they wish to see stopped.”  Religion News Service

Even with some legal protections in place, Afghan women, and sometimes even little girls, can be sold to pay family debts. In the country’s vast rural areas, just talking to a man who is not a close relative can be punishable by death. And in some places, girls are routinely married at puberty.

And now, preserving any protections long-term appears to be in question, as the country’s tiny women’s rights movement faces an unenviable decision: leave intact the only law that attempts to halt such abuses, or continue to present changes to Parliament and run the risk that a growing conservative bloc could dismantle the law entirely.  New York Times

Atheists and other nonbelievers largely welcomed Wednesday’s (May 22) remarks by Pope Francis that performing “good works” is not the exclusive domain of people of faith, but rather a place where they and atheists could and should meet.

In a private homily, Francis described doing good not as a matter of faith, but of “duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”

Then, referring to non-Catholics and nonbelievers, he said, “if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good.”  Religion News Service

World Peace Wednesdays: Peacemakers in Action issue Statement about Syria

"We are global recipients of Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action Award and peacebuilders from armed conflicts across the world. Spanning different religions, beliefs and conflicts, we have experienced war and reconciliation. We now stand
in unison as the Peacemakers in Action Network to tell the world – We witness the on-going civil war in Syria and are deeply saddened by the incalculable toll it has exacted on the Syrian people. It is time for the world’s faith communities to speak out in one voice. It is time for the world’s faith communities to act. It is time to lessen the suffering of this war’s greatest victims – the women and children of Syria." Click here to read the full statement.

World Peace Wednesdays: Peacemakers in South Africa

The African National Congress fought injustice in South Africa for over 100 years. Last month, Tanenbaum sent members of the Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, a much younger, but similar organization fighting injustice in one of the world's most violent nations, Honduras, to South Africa. There, the Hondurans worked with and learned from the ANC and other key South African organizations.

The outcomes were stunning – and are ongoing. The Tanenbaum-sponsored intervention was the first interaction between the FNRP and ANC, and is designed to substantially bolster prospects for a participatory democracy in Honduras. For more info on the intervention in South Africa, check out this article

World Peace Wednesdays: Reverend Canon Andrew P.B. White

Roll your mouse over the image and click on the links to learn more about Revrend Canon Andrew P.B. White, one of Tanenbaum's Peacemakers in Action.