As part of its year-end reporting, the Washington Post listed seven situations in the world that had gone, in its view, under-reported. We had heard lots about Syria, Gaza, Ukraine and ISIS - and rightly so! Some news had trickled in on Libya and Yemen and their respective descents into violence, of al Shabab in Somalia and Kenya, Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Taliban in Pakistan. Almost invisible were the Sudans and Northeast India - both for us places of long-time and profound relationships and collaboration with local partners in the work of peace.
The Sudans, North and South
Having spent a month a year for 8 years in Sudan and then South Sudan, the world's newest country, we have witnessed the transformation of a small group of 200 trained trainers into tens of thousands of activists working for non-violent change. Still, Darfur remains wracked with violence and South Sudan has made its own descent in to civil war, 10,000 people killed and more than 1.5 million displaced amidst battles between government and rebel forces.
Refugees and Reluctant Hosts: Peaceful Collaboration on the South Sudanese-Ugandan Border
In 2015, we will be working with an organisation in Uganda founded by two women who were participants in Conflict Transformation training in South Sudan in 2012 on two projects - one that is designed to build community out of the tensions and violence now marking relationships between a large and growing South Sudanese refugee presence and their Ugandan hosts.
Click here to donate in support of this project (Budget $5,000)
India's Restive Northeast
Tribal insurgencies persist in this odd appendage that is the northeast - after decades of violence, reneged-on promises and unfulfilled hopes of autonomy following the departure of the British Raj. More than a half million people have been killed, another half million displaced, dividing along ethnic lines conflicts that are, at their hearts, about economics, about scarce land and resources, Delhi's failure to distribute its growing wealth amongst the northeast's impoverished tribals, about corruption and nepotism.
Since the early 1990s, the Baptist Peace Fellowship has worked with insurgency movements, led by pious Baptist laymen in this oddly Christian and Baptist part of India. The ceasefire that was achieved amongst the five largest movements has persisted. Yet the violence continues, within and between ethnic groups, with Muslims targetted by many as illegal settlers and poachers. Christmas week, an extremist faction of the indigenous Bodos massacred 80 tribals in three districts of Assam, sending 50,000 fleeing their homes. Delhi responded with an extensive counterterrorism operation.
Touring and Teaching for Peace
We are very excited about our 2015 work with partners in North East India! Two Partera trainer-teachers (LeeAnn McKenna and Jeanette Quick Sandlin) will be returning to the North east to do two things: to work with and train 50 Bikers for Peace in non-violence (a story in itself: read about it here!) and to teach two courses in a new M.A. Programme in Peace Studies with young men and women from across the Northeast. The courses are on Human Rights and Conflict Transformation will combine our usual experiential learning methods and conflict transformation tools and exercises with academic readings.
The Bike Tour for Peace Project includes support for 50 men and women to borrow, repair, rent, salvage, and keep fuelled and in running order for a month 50 bikes ($7,000) - as well as their food and accommodation over approximately 30 days and 6,000 km ($2,000). Click here to donate in support of this multi-layered project! (Budget $20,000)