Stories for Peace
To mark the 60th year of Partition, PeaceWorks sent out a call for entries to schoolchildren all over the subcontinent. Students between the age of 14 and 18 were to write a short story exploring the theme of peace. Fliers inviting students to submit a story for peace were distributed widely to schools all over India and Pakistan. The PeaceWorks link on the Seagull website was used to publicize this event. Eye-catching posters were prominently displayed in the participating schools. Over 150 entries were received from students from all over the subcontinent. A board of eminent judges selected 20 stories which were to be published in an illustrated anthology by Seagull Books.
Kites for Peace
Kites for Peace, was launched in Pakistan in January 2007 at the International Schools Educational Olympiad organized by the Karachi High School. The idea was to approach schools in both nations and ask students to write messages of friendship and amity on the kites to their counterparts across the border.
Approximately 1,200 kites were signed by students from the 92 schools participating in the Olympiad. Five hundred such kites were later sent to Calcutta.
On 4 April 2007, Kites For Peace was launched in India at the Modern High School, Calcutta, by His Excellency Shri Gopal Krishna Gandhi, Governor of West Bengal. Several schools from all over India supported this initiative and more kites were signed by students.
The project was successfully conducted in both countries and approximately 5,000 kites were collected. The 60th year of Independence which also marks the 60th year of Partition witnessed the display of kites at various locations all over Calcutta.
Mr. Arif Ikram, Captain, Karachi Boat Club, carried 200 kites signed by students from India back to Pakistan when he visited Calcutta. These kites were displayed in Pakistan at the same time as they were displayed in India.
A PeaceWorks project, Kites for Peace affirms the initiative’s core objectives of building peace, strengthening values of mutual coexistence and respect for all communities
Poems for Peace
Resist. Reflect. Protest. Express. Question. Ignite. Remember. Write
This was our call for entries as a part of our Poems for Peace initiative in 2006. We received numerous entries from both India and Pakistan as well as a few from the United States of America.
One hundred such entries were selected for our anthology. The judges, Ruchir Joshi (writer and filmmaker), Amit Chaudhuri (award-winning novelist, poet and musician) and Sanjukta Dasgupta (professor, Calcutta University) chose their favourite poems which were featured in a special section called the ‘Judges’ Choice’.
Schoolchildren in India also contributed illustrations for this anthology.
Peacetrips to Pakistan
PeaceWorks played an active part in the ‘Team to Pakistan’ project which was put together by The Telegraph in Schools, Calcutta, and included 11 teachers and 32 students, two of whom, Satwik Ghosh and Purti Melanie Simon, were PeaceWorkers. The team was specially invited by the Karachi High School to take part in the its annual International Schools Educational Olympiad. Almost 150 schools from all over Pakistan come to Karachi for this event. The trip was partially sponsored by The Telegraph in Schools, Calcutta.
Orientation workshops were
conducted by Jayant Kripalani for the 33 students going to Pakistan. The participants were given a basic training on voice/speech, movements and the use of space in performance. The entire workshop was built around the PeaceWorks theme.
The first session was with Dr Somnath Zutshi where the social, political, economic scenario and the historical background of Pakistan was discussed. The second was with Ms Kavita Punjabi who narrated her experiences in Pakistan and discussed its present scenario.
The PeaceWorks stall
A stall offering ‘Poems for Peace’ Pamphlets, PeaceWorks forms (for those who wanted to become PeaceWorkers), copies of the PeaceWorks newsletter, PeaceWorks bookmarks was set up on the grounds of Karachi High School. This stall was manned by three PeaceWorkers at a time, who informed visitors about the programme, guiding them on how to become PeaceWorkers in their country, and collected names and details to add to the PeaceWorks database.
The PeaceWorks presentation
The presentation, before teachers and students from 150 schools all over Pakistan, included a 10-minute talk on PeaceWorks with a PowerPoint presentation followed by a 15-minute performance by Purti Melanie Simon and Sarah Ezdani.
Our trip to Pakistan wasn’t merely a fun filled excursion. It was a peace mission and I was there as an ambassador of peace. Crossing the Wagah border on foot was an experience in itself. Just that one stroke of paint on the tarred road could have had been the reason for years of hostility and animosity and the cause of so many deaths shocked me. There was a lot that happened on the whole trip. It wasn’t the big things but the little things here and there, gestures and unfamiliar sights and sounds that actually caught my attention when we boarded the bus which would take us to Karachi. At The International School Educational Olympiad, we had set up a little stall where we had placed some tri-coloured friendship bands. Within seconds, the bands were over and people came asking for more. I was surprised and completely overwhelmed at this response. In the course of the day, some Pakistani students came up to me with green bands as a sign of friendship and gratitude. Once again the differences seemed fewer and almost nonexistent. Karachi High School was like a melting pot, where no one could tell one from the other. At the end of three days it was time for goodbyes. All our Pakistani friends had stayed up the whole night and had helped us pack. I was overwhelmed with emotions and saddened by the prospect of leaving. They formed a choir and began singing songs that probably helped them express themselves best at that given moment. Quality not quantity time had done it again. Bonds had grown so strong over three days that tere bin jiya nehin jaye made its way through their choking voices. They noticed tears running down my cheek and stepped forward to reassure me that we would definitely meet again. As the engine started, one of my friends stuck his hand through the window and gave me a necklace that he had around his neck. I held onto it and cried as we left our hotel.
Purti Melanie Simon
Class XI, La Martiniere for Girls.