Building Peace, Piece by piece
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
the ant found this more relevant in our areas, where “Peace” as a goal would have invited more tension than tranquility. This is especially true, when December 15, 2015 arrived, one year after the bloody ethnic violence 2014 happened, the atmosphere was rife with rumors and tension. Hence the ant had decided to tread this sensitive path, by “doing” peace in all our programmes, without mentioning the ‘P-word
- Create spaces of co-operation called as “Sahayak Manch”, where people from communities in conflict can mix and interact – through sports, culture, common issues, common celebrations & events.
- Promote conflict resolution forums so that communities in conflict can dialogue and explore non-violent actions for settling conflicts.
- Using drama as a medium for helping young people not just explore bias, stereotypes and non-violent ways of resolving conflicts, but also take the message to others.
- Through rallies, peace marches, public demonstrations.
- Creating a model of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in a Conflict Situation
If there could be a warning system for natural disasters, why not the same for man-made disasters? After all, disasters bring destruction, irrespective of their type. Working along these lines, in March 2015, the ant started a pilot project calld “Project Sahayak” in 30 villages with small support from UNICEF, Guwahati. The work is going on full-swing, basing on the concept of our Sahayak Manch, to develop a ‘Disaster Risk Mitigation’ system for man-made disasters and conflicts.
Legal Aid Centre
In our efforts to promulgate more “peace” initiatives, of course without the ‘P-word’, we had found that communities come together easily to fight for “justice”. Now Justice is our open companion in the peace initiatives. We then started a Legal Aid Centre at the ant campus to offer free legal advice and help for people who need. Lawyers and para-legals help solve cases of the community through both legal advice and legal aid in case of court intervention.
When there was a threat of electricity companies put up power transmission towers and high tension wires in farm lands, the Bodos, Bengali Muslims and Rajbongshis, put their community differences in back-burner and held a dharna in protest. Around 500 people from Chirang and Kokrajhar districts sat in this dharna, seeking clarity and proper policy, which had now evolvd to form the ‘Chirang Land Protection Committee’. As someone rightly said, peace is not the absence of War, but the presence of Justice.