Dialogue for Peace
As part of the PeaceWorks programme of ‘learning to live with difference’, the Seagull Foundation for the Arts has, since mid 2011, formed a close relationship with youth from the conflict zone of Kashmir. PeaceWorks brings Kashmiri youth, between ages 12 and 17, to come in batches to Calcutta and other towns and cities of India. To live through a degree of ‘performed normalcy’ in spaces created in mainstream schools. To come together, learn and share with young folks in these ‘conflict-free zones’—through theatre, art, film, photography and sports, which form the mediums of intensive workshops facilitated by PeaceWorks. To step out of their conflict-ridden lives and spend time with their counterparts, often in their homes, with their families. To see, feel, experience and understand a different world by working closely with those who are different from them. Springing from a simple human urge to use the arts to make a difference, PeaceWorks has been working without any institutional support. Over 5 sessions in Calcutta, Srinagar and Assam, it has directly touched the lives of 150 youth across diverse regional, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. The workshops have empowered them to work with their peers in their own communities, to create vistas of the end of war, to realize that peace works.
Share Stories Open Minds
On the other hand, there are no ‘conflict-free zones’. Exposed to violence and abuse, susceptible to crime, addiction and trafficking, children in the streets and slums of Calcutta are struggling for basic human needs. The state facilitates primary education; but it takes so much more than that to create responsible, evolved citizens. Which is why Seagull’s storytelling project—‘Share Stories, Open Minds’, an art education initiative—is a timely intervention. Volunteer-based so far, this project sparks the imagination and plants vital ideas through fun and games as children are introduced to infinite world of stories. Active for over two years now, the project has reached out to over 500 children in several non-conventional schools across Calcutta.
There is a crying need to reach hundreds of other young people across the country, to make PeaceWorks a movement on the national scale in order to make a real perceptible difference. In this light, both these initiatives need generous support to make them sustainable, capable of building a committed workforce and enriching countless young lives for a brighter warless future.
Any donation, big or small would go a long way. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org
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