Listening to children and young people, working with them and seeing what they have to say on what we have done or not done in matters building positive peace were the key fundamentals action points relayed to every participant in this year’s Coimbatore peace festival.
Speaking in the first virtual version of the first festival held on 7th August 2020, Dr. Vinu Aram, President of Shanti Ashram and Arigatou International Advisory Group member emphasized on the crucial need to create a more equitable society by bridging existing inequalities in order to create peace. Dr. Vinu observed that children, especially vulnerable and marginalized ones are mostly affected during times of conflict and crises, like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
“In peace times, investments are made for children, for instance when they go to school, study and have education for gainful livelihoods, together they become peaceful individuals and our societies give them much more opportunities to thrive but when crisis happens, we forget them,” she said.
While adding his voice on the need for peace, Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General of the Global Network of Religions for Children called on the need to work individually and collectively towards implementing the 10 commitments made at the network’s global forum in Panama 2017. “These commitments would help young people thrive and grow in peace,” he said.
This annual commemoration also took stock of the progress made within the India Poverty Solutions; an initiative by Shanti Ashram in which the 9th poverty solution was officially launched. This innovative solution, dubbed, Learning Hub was lauded as a significant solution towards alleviating child poverty especially during these times of the Covid-19 pandemic. This solution has seen 2 batches (over 50) of young volunteers trained on building their capacity on some innovative ways they can help their communities in times of crisis like the Covid-19 while observing set protocols regarding safety from exposure of the virus.
Among the benefitting youth from this solution was Sandhya, was applauded the capacity building and leadership training that she had received, saying that had enabled her give back to her community during the difficult socioeconomic times of Covid-19. “I realized volunteering and leadership are qualities that exist in each one of us, as human beings” she said.
In the run up to the launch of this 9th solution towards ending child poverty, Shanti Ashram has been working in collaboration with communities and other organizations to support over 6000 vulnerable families in India in the last 4 months, especially with regards to the socioeconomic effects brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.