- About us
- GET INVOLVED
In Guatemala, a country that suffered 36 years of civil war, there are many institutions that work for peace, but the need for peace is still very large, and today more than ever. For this reason, with the conviction that peace must first start in the heart of each person, Helena von Arnim (Colombia) and Killy Sánchez (Guatemala) decided to work together to start Creators of Peace Circles in Guatemala, in the hope that they can be multiplied in all Latin American countries in the near future. In April 2012 the first two Peace Circles took place in the cities of Chimaltenango and Panajachel. Killy Sánchez reports:
The small and newly formed team of Initiatives of Change Guatemala, which began meeting two months ago, seeing the great need for peace that afflicts our country at all levels, had the desire to begin their work in the country by implementing the Creators of Peace Circles. Sharing this wish with our friends in Latin America, Helena von Arnim generously volunteered to come and support us as a co-facilitator, so we had the pleasure of hosting her here for two weeks.
The first Peace Circle was held from 13 to 15 April, in the city of Chimaltenango, located in the central region of the country, 45 km from Guatemala City. One of the participants was a representative of the Maya Kaqchikel ethnic group.
From the beginning all were very open, thirsty for sharing their struggles with the rest of the group. An atmosphere of sisterhood was immediately created and allowed us to go deeply into each theme applying them to our personal lives.
Some of the participants’ conclusions were:
'The internal nourishment I received is very large; I now see the outside from another point of view.' 'Things that we already knew were put on the table. I could see myself and evaluate me inside. I see things that have happened to me in a different way. I enjoyed practicing silence, where I can hear the voice of God.' 'I always thought that it was my duty to give advice, I now discover that the most important thing is to really listen to the other.' 'I also most practice more the inner silence in order to reflect and make better decisions.' 'I thought that I was right, but I am not. I would be lying if I say I already forgave. I'm going to fight to get it, but for that I need to have a child’s heart.' This last phrase inspired us so much and we decided to call our group and the tree that we planted in our closing ceremony, 'Ranima ti mita', that in Kaqchikel language means 'Child’s heart'.
The second Peace Circle took place in Panajachel, from April 20-22, in the department of Sololá, in the South Western region of the country, 104 km from the Capital City. It was organized in collaboration with IEPADES (Institute of education for sustainable development) www.iepades.org, NGO working in the Prevention of Armed Violence, Control of Arms and Ammunition, Local Management of Security and Justice, Reform of the Security Sector, Local Development and the Prevention of the Risk. Nine of their facilitators from different corners of the country participated, including representatives of the Achí, Mam and Tz'utuhil Mayan ethnic groups.
Many of the themes were not new for them, as all work for peace from different fields. However going deeper on these themes from a more personal perspective helped them to understand that in order to be effective creators of peace, this must begin first in their own life. At the end they expressed their conclusions and commitments:
‘Forgiveness is a true liberation for the heart, said one. ’ I discovered that I have the capacity to forgive because I have the capacity to love.’ Another commented, ‘This was a space for reflection and relief. It helped me to commit myself to improve my relationships and think before speaking for not hurting others. I also learnt new tools to reach silence.’ Similarly another participant shared, ‘I found that I have some pending things that require from me more honesty, more love, and more compassion. I also learnt about some of the triggers that make me react without thinking.’
Both Helena and I feel very happy for this new journey we have started in Guatemala, we see it as the beginning of the future work of Initiatives of Change in Latin America. Our peoples have suffered greatly, but we see in them that great ability to stand up and move forward.
Who we are: Initiatives of Change (IofC) is a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own.
Purpose: We work to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves, in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living.
Omnia Marzouk, President, IofC International
'Nothing lasting can be built without a desire by people to live differently and exemplify the changes they want to see in society.'