|Posted: April 29 2005,20:44
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PROGRESS: Has your organization seen
progress toward a culture of peace and nonviolence in your domain of
action and in your constituency during the first half of the Decade?
constituency is made up of people from several different religions and
backgrounds. With the communal violence that breaks out in India
on occasion, most notably the violence in 2002 in Gujarat, we feel the
tension in the social fabric even in Mumbai, Maharashtra. Mumbai
itself went through communal violence in the early 90’s, leaving a
sense of vulnerability when news comes of areas facing trouble.
This sense of vulnerability can best be exemplified by the local
official reactions to outbreaks elsewhere. Police presence is
increased, public warnings made, and editorials and remarks flood the
Saathi’s team is represented by no less than six major
religions, many of which are in conflict with one another in some part
of the nation, and multiple nationalities. The individuals that
participate in the organization’s programs reflect this diversity.
Through the years this team has been together, violence has
erupted that can be related to each individual, team members and
project participants, through their various identities whether it be
religion, place of origination (home), gender, or other socio-economic
identifiers. An atmosphere of trust has been built and ingrained
so strongly that not only is the conflict not reflected amongst our own
ranks, there is instead a sense of strength and drawing together in
support of one another.
In a country where religious differences
can lead to thousands of deaths, we can see individuals in our own
domain learning to address those differences peacefully and
proactively. From the Muslim and Hindu boys that live together
and learn a tolerance for their different food choices to a respect and
interest in the different philosophies each follows, a recognition of a
person’s humanity before all other adjectives about that person is
Progress indicators have not been developed, per
se. Rather an astute sensitivity to the atmosphere of the
organization and communities in which it works has been built. If
unrest is noticed, it is addressed immediately. The outcome is
then examined to ensure the symptoms of the problem themselves have
been addressed and not just the immediate minutiae. The ongoing
peaceful atmosphere is exemplary of its own progress without the need
of express indicators.
OBSTACLES: What are the most important obstacles that have prevented progress?
impact of past experiences – the fear, anger, bitterness, and confusion
– can make the goal of moving on and rebuilding a stronger community a
massive challenge. The knowledge that past violence has broken
out as a flash point, not even a slow build, as is often the case in
communal violence, leaves an anxious vulnerability due to the
uncertainty of what could spark it again in the future. It is the
human condition to integrate what we have learned in the past with how
we function in the future, and surviving a time of great danger and
conflict leave indelible marks on the psyche. Contributing to
this is the fact that communal violence does continue to break out in
various areas across the nation. There is no point where a
survivor can be shown that their fear is unwarranted and that the
danger is firmly past.
Additionally, the chasm between the
“have’s” and the “have-not’s” is not only significant but continues to
widen. This can lead to an ever-increasing desperation as well as
separation of society.
ACTIONS: What actions have been
undertaken by your organization to promote a culture of peace and
nonviolence during the first half of the Decade?
prevent social lines being drawn and tensions building within our own
sphere of influence, we use strong communication channels, exploration
of ideas, and work towards an understanding of each about each.
This is done through discussion groups, use of drama therapy for
individuals to explore their feelings on the topic, and an openness for
any and all to express their anxieties, concerns, and thoughts.
We have found this to not only create a culture of peace and
nonviolence, it leads to each individual acting as an ambassador for
peace and nonviolence through their own internalization of how
differences can co-exist and even be symbiotic. Following the
2002 violence, the participants of Saathi’s projects that went through
the process of exploring their reactions felt the need to take this
outside the organization via a play written by youths living on the
street. It was a striking example of how violence even in a
distant place can breed angst and bitterness and how those feelings can
be channeled into an understanding that will hopefully prevent its
It is also through this exploration that we have
been able to work outside our immediate communities, taking programs to
the areas of conflict in hopes of healing some of the traumas
experienced and beginning the process of repairing the social rifts.
This has been done through drama therapy, bridging education
processes during time of rebuilding, and exploring individuals’
feelings and fears in the aftermath. There are a great many
prejudices that are put into dramatic relief during and after a time of
conflict. Addressing these from the points of view of those
involved, outside factors that exaggerated the situation, and the sheer
momentum that builds during the conflict can all be building blocks
towards a new understanding of what occurred and how to prevent it in
A program has been developed that works
towards bringing the tools of the financially secure into the reach of
the disadvantaged and Below Poverty Line communities in an effort to
bridge the economic gaps currently seen. Matching the individuals
with loans from more affluent individuals, they are taught basic
financial tools, bank accounts are procured, and simple investments
using the Initial Public Offering Sector are made. To objective
is to increase their knowledge of general economics, their financial
abilities within a larger context, and create an income stream using
the same source of benefits as is available to those with greater
incomes and resources. It is hoped that through bridging some of
these economic gaps that we can move in a preventative direction to
avoid conflict through desperation and bring about a stronger sense of
peace and nonviolence.
ADVICE: What advice would you like to
give to the Secretary-General and the General Assembly to promote a
culture of peace and nonviolence during the second half of the Decade?
lot of emphasis is put on restoring livelihoods, domiciles, and basic
existence after a time of conflict. While these basic needs are
indeed essential, equally important is addressing the psychological
aspect of the survivor, as well as the perpetrator. Government and
Agency reports alone on who is to blame and the series of events does
not allow for the individuals themselves to work through what happened
and can be counterproductive by providing justification for further
retribution. Without increasing the understanding and altering
the perceptions of all involved, the same triggers can have the same
outcomes in the future.
For every conflict in the world,
there is a community that has learned to cope with the same factors in
a peaceful way. Rather than focusing only on the areas of
conflict that now need assuaged and rehabilitated, increase awareness
of what it is that allowed the peaceful community to develop.
Learn how to replicate the positive in addition to stemming the
flow of the negative.
Studies such as this one are
learning from the Grassroots movements, the organizations that are
working daily with all the puzzle pieces that will eventually fit
together to allow for peace and nonviolence. Grassroots
organizations are able to build a kind of trust with the communities
that governmental agencies often can not. Recognition of this
strength and leveraging it through stronger support systems and lending
credibility can have exponential impact to how far the reach can
PARTNERSHIPS: What partnerships and
networks does your organization participate in, thus strengthening the
global movement for a culture of peace?
is a member of several networks and partners with others as needed.
These partnership and networks are in relation to the
organization’s emphasis on youth living on the street, protection of
adolescent girls, and children’s rights and opportunities.
PLANS: What new engagements are
planned by your organization to promote a culture of peace and
nonviolence in the second half of the Decade (2005-2010)?
program working with individual loans, creating an income stream, and
building financial awareness is being developed with a view to large
scale replication. By the year 2010, we hope to have touched
millions of individuals by introducing investment tools that begin to
remove the chasm, both through capital resources and general
knowledge/awareness. With that economic stability coming to the
lowest income groups and with equal availability of financial tools, it
is hoped a new understanding can come to all via a stronger sense of
fairness and the ability to meet financial requirements.
Postal address of organization
Agripada Municipal School, Room 14
Farooque Umarbhouy Lane
Opp. YMCA Swimming Pool
Mumbai Central (E)
Mumbai 400 011
E-mail address of organization
Website address of organization
Highest priority action domain of a culture of peace
Second priority action domain of a culture of peace
Highest priority country of action (or international)
Second priority country of action (or international)
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