Jini Agrawal tells us about a deep, shared experience of the Creators of Peace Circle by women in BIrguni, Nepal and how they were able to support one another through storysharing.
Birgunj is a sub-metropolitan municipality in the south-central part of Nepal and shares border with the India. It is a multi-lingual and multi-ethnic city that has experienced political unrest for over two years now.
The Creators of Peace team realized the importance of conducting a Creators of Peace Circle in the area with women leaders who can significantly contribute to peace and stability in their groups and eventually in their region. For this reason, in July a Peace Circle was conducted with twelve women who belonged to diverse religions, ethnicities, professions and to different social strata. The participating women were advocates, media personnel, activists, single mothers etc. Sano Paila, a grassroot organization in Birgunj what works actively with youth in peace making works, was our local partner whose leadership in the region helped us have a successful gathering.
The three-days long Peace Circle was impactful where the facilitator, Meena Sharma, and the co-facilitator, Sushma Tiwari, witnessed transformation of the participants. The concerns raised by the women participating were on food security, identity, justice and domestic violence. During the first day of being together, the story-sharing session helped to set tone for all the three days.
Meena, the facilitator, shared 'One of the participant shared a heart-breaking story. Rama (name changed) was tricked into a wedding with a trans woman in her early teens. Today she has three children with her partner but feels betrayed by her. She shared that she thinks of committing a suicide everyday as she feels very unhappy with her life. She has been waiting for a suitable time to end her life.' All the women inside the room extended their empathy and love towards her.
The participating women shared their own stories and receiving care from the listeners around them, they felt a sense of belonging and collectiveness with the group. Both the facilitators shared that women who were not very responsive the first day of the interactions were extremely active and wore biggest smiles on their faces the next day like it was a new day in their lives.
Few participants shared that all their life they did not have people with whom they could share their sorrows and not be judged. Through the Peace Circle group, they received great vibes and felt secure. On the last day of the circle, women shared as follows:
'Moving forward I will make a conscious decision to stay calm and improve communication between my family and I'
'I will not make a decision in haste and opt the path of non-violence'
'I commit to apply the lessons learnt during peace circle in my daily life and within my close groups and communities'
The Creators of Peace team in Nepal is extending their programme in 2018. If you would like to know more details, please be in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org
**A Participant Salma has been elected as village council member, result declared on 21 September 2017