In the first Deepening session, we heard updates from different regions, such as from Sri Lanka, where life is very challenging especially since the bombing of a Church in Easter 2019. Language came up as an issue locally for delivering Peace Circles as well as participation across genders. Sometimes the CoP rule of not paying facilitators has proved problematic and needs to be negotiated in some circumstances. Fundraising for resources might include food or support with travel, as well as discipline in report writing. Discussions around the fundamental aim in most places is to heal history; and also how to make the most of tools available such as Peace Focus Gatherings, Advocates for a New Story and network building.
Some important points were: Creators of Peace is not a job but a calling; the strength of CoP lies in the courage it takes to share your story and it can be what starts us on our healing journey; the risk of forgiveness becoming transactional, plus the need for going beyond personal pain where individual forgiveness can move into communities; the value of facilitators learning to share their own experience; appreciating countries is possible to create bridges for meeting depending on visa restrictions; and collaboration between national teams was discussed.
The feedback session with new facilitators was very well done and was a learning curve for those giving feedback on questions such as “What would you do differently?”, “What is your learning edge?”, “What is your greatest area for growth?”, “What capacity do you really want to develop?”. The emphasis was on feedback at the being level, not just the doing.
Comments from participants included:
'I wanted to meet and listen to the experience of other countries. This was space to share and listen as well.'
'I enjoyed the celebration of women as peace practitioners.'
'The spirit of participants’ positivity, spirit of victory and overcoming, from very challenging circumstances.'
'I expected it would give me some clarity and it did.'
'The power of silence and self-reflection.'
'The idea of collective effort for addressing sensitive issues, a platform to share stories and address our issues.'
'I learnt anyone can be a peace creator and it is an essential tool for community building and trust.'
'I learnt Creators of Peace is a journey, I learnt how I can help to make a difference in the life of one individual, how unheard suffering can be heard and healed.'
'I got idea and tools, and made friends from different parts of the world.'
'The inclusiveness, the honesty and attentiveness of the organisers.'
'Thank you for the eco-system at Panchgani. The experience has felt like home. A safe place for body, mind and soul.'
'Creators of Peace is a growing network of women changemakers, starting with themselves.'
'A movement of women worldwide who come together to explore their roles in society, home and lives, a space for listening, healing and accompanying.'
Following on from this event, Creators of Peace will launch a new regional capacity-building programme to strengthen our outreach, training materials and evaluation resources. Moving forward, Meena underlines why this work is so needed:
'For me running a Peace Circle with women from different divides, I feel this is a collective healing journey for all of us. After our civil conflict, the monetary compensation from the government can fulfil some of the basic necessities but being a part of the Peace Circle nourishes the heart and soul. Running Peace Circle means, creating a safe space for women and young people to share the turning point of their life, then empowering them in creative discourse to take the lead of the community peacebuilding processes.'