Creators of Peace joined with a local partner organization of World Education to organize a Peace Circle with young people coming from six of the least developed districts in Nepal
We organized a Peace Circle with a local partner organization of World Education from 22 to 24 November with a group of twelve enthusiastic girls and boys aged 13 to 19 years in Surkhet district. The young participants came from six different districts of Province number 6, situated 600-800 kilometers west of the capital. Those districts are the ones which have suffered the most during the decade-long armed conflict in Nepal and, due to the conflict and remoteness, are amongst the least developed in the country.
The adolescents participating in this Creators of Peace Circle raised extremely important concerns regarding child marriage, alcoholism, menstruation, separate toilets for boys and girls in schools, domestic violence, etc. The facilitators, Meena Sharma and Padma Gurung, were moved by the stories the youth shared.
'My friend, age 12, got pregnant after eloping with a boy at such a tender age. Her husband disappeared after learning that his wife is pregnant. Now at the age of 12, she has a three months old baby and is living a vulnerable life. As per the new civil code, she is not eligible to register her marriage as the minimum marriageable age is 20 years and she and her daughter will have to live with no legal documents.' (One of the participating girls)
'I love to study but every month I miss four days of school. My school does not have a women’s toilet and I do not feel comfortable using men’s toilet during my menstrual days. This story is not just mine but that of every girl in my school.' (Another girl)
'Men in our village consume a lot of alcohol. They spend all their income in alcohol and sometimes they even want to spend all the women’s income in it. After consuming they become aggressive and usually beat women.' (A participating boy)
The stories shared in this Peace Circle were intense but also very real. Every participant could resonate with the stories of others and open up to tell their own. As good as they were with sharing their stories, they were equally good at developing action plans, one short-term for the following three months, and another one for the year to follow. Some of the actions they planned include: forming Peace Circles in schools to discuss circles of concern and develop solutions for each; presenting problems related to the school to the principal for proper action; ensuring no influence of political parties in the schools; raising funds through different events in order to build toilets for girls; sharing the Peace Circle experience with friends so that it creates a ripple effect.
We as facilitators were impressed with the youth’s ability to share on problems surrounding them and immediately develop solutions. Towards the end of the Peace Circle, two of the teenagers shared, 'Problems in our society do not end but what we can do as individuals is help to create peace by looking for solutions'; 'This is the first time that I am learning so much outside of my classroom and in an informal setting. I will recommend to my friends to be a part of such Peace Circles.'