Tools for Change Kuala Lumpur March 4-7 2010
Hosted by PiCCSO (Performance Improvement Centre for Civil Society Organisations) in collaboration with IofC International.
The 80 who attended the conference came from NGOs and IofC teams in Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, and individuals from countries as far apart as China, America and Australia.
‘Tools for Change is a tool-kit for your life,’ wrote one of the participants on flip-chart sheets stuck round the walls at the UEM conference centre in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
‘Opening the door of possibilities,’ wrote another. It is forming ‘a network of compassion’.
The comments came at the end of the second annual Tools for Change KL organised by PICCSO (Performance Improvement Centre for Civil Society Organisations), a programme branch of IofC Malaysia. The 80 attending came from NGOs and IofC teams in Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia, and individuals from countries as far apart as China, America and Australia.
The programme ranged from ‘World Café’ brainstorming round critical issues in the world to ‘Gatherings’ featuring panellist describing initiatives in violence-wracked Mindinao and the North-east of India, from reflective early morning quiet times to a noisy evening of hilarious entertainment. ‘Open Space’ sessions formed working groups around issues of bringing change in societies. Afternoons were devoted to nine workshops delivering high-quality training in areas such as ‘Bulls-Eye Presentations’ and ‘Core values and leadership challenges across cultures’.
At the opening session one of the PICCSO team, Regina Morris, told how last year’s Tools for Change had thrust her into trust-building efforts between Malaysia’s races while also bringing personal healing in wounded relationships within her family. See full talk by Regina….
In another session Siti Hoiriyah, mother of two young children, described how when praying five times a day, she spends another 10 to 15 minutes silent on her sajadah (praying mat) to ‘let the Divine guide you and help you change’. The result, she says, is that ‘Alhamdulillah, Praise to Lord, I have been able to see myself change little by little, and to forgive my brothers and tolerate my daily matters with my children and spouse. Whenever I have conflict or a need to change something in me, then that 10 minutes extra time after prayer has been a real tool for me, with the guidance and light from Allah Taala.’ See full talk by Siti….
In a ‘gathering’ looking at ‘Trust, integrity and positive change’, a Chinese businessman, N S Loh, told how absolute honesty had helped him win a major air-conditioning contract against stiff competition, and read an email from his son asking to mentor him in the practice of absolute love in his business life. A young Malaysian had everyone laughing on her mother’s nagging her to get married; and then how she had won through to respect and listening, because of her quiet times. And Huda from Indonesia told of travelling 15 hours to seek forgiveness of his mother, just before coming to the conference. ‘The inner voice never lies,’ he said, gratefully.
Compassion was the focus of the Tools for Change Lecture by renowned social activist and commentator, Dr Chandra Muzzafar. As one of the 18 council members who helped draft the ‘Charter of Compassion’, which was launched last November by writer / historian Karen Armstrong, Dr Muzzafar said that ‘globalization makes compassion vital for the survival of humanity… As boundaries become irrelevant, challenges such as environmental catastrophe, economic crisis and proliferation of nuclear weapons are all global. We realize we have to connect with each other – there’s really no choice. Compassion is the ability to put yourself in the place of another.’ He traced various other charters, such as the UN Declaration on Human Rights, saying there was ‘a lacuna’ in not addressing the essential factor of compassion. Since its launch, the Charter has been endorsed by 40,900 people. IofC International is one of more than 100 partners in the Charter. See www.charterforcompassion.org
Asked by an Indonesian about extremism and terrorism Dr Muzzafar, who is president of Just International, said the causes could be traced to injustices and the hurt Muslims react to in parts of the world. But that true followers of Islam ‘uphold universal values, uphold justice, uphold compassion.’
As the comment penned onto the papers stuck on the wall showed, Tools for Change is developing that ‘network of compassion’.