[ACNS, by Rachel Farmer] A cross cultural visit to Nepal for young people from the Church of South India (CSI) has revealed the impact of peacebuilding across different faith groups in Asia. Young people from the CSI, Pakistan and Nepal were part of a group of 22 young people who took part in a trip in May when they met with community leaders to learn how to take forward peace initiatives, especially in places like Sunsari which shares border with India.
Praveen Daniel, program executive for CSI-SEVA (Social Empowerment: Vision in Action), said the group were shown the importance of interfaith peacebuilding programmes which were initiated and run by young people. He said: “some of the positive impact in the cross-border peacebuilding initiatives was that there has been a reduction in crime rates in the community. We were shown how building the community reduces conflicts and ensures peaceful co-existence.”
The visit, which ran from 26 May to 1 June, was organised by United Mission to Nepal, which along with CSI-SEVA and seven other organisations are all part of the Local Capacities for Peace-South Asia network.
Young people from each country were able to share their peacebuilding experiences during the week. Mr Daniel said: “they also shared the difficulties during the process, that even if they can contribute better to a particular situation, they are sometimes given less importance because they are ‘young people’”.
Listening to a peace building group from a Muslim community running children’s clubs, the group heard how the children were informed about rights and responsibilities and that this had led to a huge dip in child marriages, which had been cut by 50 per cent in one province.
Meeting with the Magar community – one of the oldest indigenous tribes in Nepal – they saw a model of interfaith peace where they aim to have a community with five religions and a common place of worship. Mr Daniel said: “this whole idea left the group amazed as people couldn’t foresee such an inclusive peace model.”