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Pam and John: Thanks for Your Exciting News and Response!

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear Pam, John, and All, I m holding my breath for at least a few minutes, even as we speak (so if this email suddenly stops, you will know I have sprouted
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 7, 2009
      Dear Pam, John, and All,
      I'm holding my breath for at least a few minutes, even as we speak (so if this email suddenly stops, you will know I have sprouted wings...hopefully allowing me to exert a positive influence from that Great Peace Center in the Sky, on a range of valuable things :))).
      What marvelous news, and I in turn appreciate your letter and marvel at all of your wonderful and life-enhancing activities!  I recall that John last year was definitely excited about peace-related peer education (trainings and other activities) in Kenya, and saw possibilities for linkages between Kenya and Nigeria then.
      Hopefully, given not only your work in Nigeria, but also your connections to Kenya (with Teachers Talking, David, COL, et al, directly and indirectly), we might discuss the creation and development of some peace-related activities, including peace centers, trainings, ICTs (used to advance peace, like mobile phones, video, and the like), and whatever else comes to mind as possibilities for addressing this and linked subjects like development.
      Please do keep us informed about your activities, and I think it could be very useful to compile a list or database of just the kinds of examples you mention, of people and projects among us who are doing great work, and have something to teach us all in the process!
      Pam, you are right that we need to celebrate the "improvements"--like that "one small step for wo/man", as Neil Armstrong characterized his walk on the moon--as this is truly the only way we can also have the "great leap(s) for humankind" also envisioned in that one amazing act of courage, determination, and dreamweaving!
      Know that we are with you, every step and leap of the way! And may we believe and apply this to "each" and to "all" of us, in the dreams and doings of our day! With love and blessings, Janet
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:20 PM
      Subject: [voiceful] Re: [nafsiafrikasaana] Kenya: Peace Caravan-Safari/IDPs and Killings/How Can We Help?/Individuals-Groups and Local-Global


      Thank you for your email. I want to express agreement an appreciation for you words.

      Regarding what you said about
      The idea to establish "peace centers", which Pam and others broached and were enthusiastic about last year, is as pertinent today as it was then.  A number of members in Kenya were eager to do this, using existing facilities--to which we might add in some way (however "we" is defined)--and I think we should return to a discussion about that, as technically several of our members in different locations within Kenya now have the capacity to exert more influence and do more outreach and organizing locally, as well as link up and work together nationally and even internationally.
      This is still very much in my mind. My hope is that the results of the work I am doing with John Dada in Nigeria will  prove useful in other places too. In a few weeks I hope to have a website which will help me to explain. Basically, we are hoping to create a new kind of learning centre at Attachab. We will try out various ideas there. If the ideas seem worth sharing then we will try to arrange ways to share those ideas. Sometimes we will try to arrange for people to visit Attachab for training courses. Sometimes we will try to make teaching resources - you tubes etc - which people will be able to get from the Internet. Youtubes etc will mean people will not need to travel to Attachab to learn. 

       Of course we have no money for any of this yet, which slows things down, but we are putting in our time and personal resources as we have them, and we are making progress. We are also beginning to find other people who are interested who also put in their time and knowledge.

      We have an expression over here when things may take a long time to happen - "Don't hold your breath" - so "Don't hold your breath" while you wait to see things at Attachab. However I want you to know that the idea of local teaching centres where we fight poverty and ignorance are still dear to my heart and I am still working towards them.

      Let us share what knowledge we already have which can improve life for people, even if it is only small, small steps at a time. I think for instance of the latrines that Ricardo and Tom were able to get built using local materials that were not too expensive, and  the way that Ken makes his water safer to drink, just using an ordinary bottle painted black and left in the sun for about three hours (he does not claim it makes it perfectly safe - but definitiely much safer  - and that is an impovement)

      Let us LearnFromEachOther 


      2009/3/7 Janet Feldman <kaippg@...>

      Dear All,
      It is good to see all of your letters, despite the harshness and disharmony that is sometimes being felt and expressed. This too is part of being a family, and working together closely:  we will have disagreements and difficulties, some of them sharp and hurtful. It is how we respond to that that is crucial.
      My hope and prayer is that out of such "shadows" will come light, including a deeper sense of connectedness, understanding, growth, and of perceiving and believing ourselves to be stakeholders in something larger than each of us, while at the same feeling ourselves "enlarged" and empowered as individuals.
      It is sad on the one hand that Kenya seems to be in a period of turmoil again, what with several killings, squabbling within the govt, reaction to the reports about the violence that flared up last year (fyi, Philip Alston was a professor of mine in graduate school, and I can speak to his fair and impartial approach as a champion of human rights).
      However, hopefully from such challenges something positive might come, and any lessons learned from last year can be applied now to stem any slide again towards violence and chaos.
      In our own setting here, we are also encountering difficulty and disagreement. It is important to realize that what we see happening out in the world is also something happening within our collective, let alone within ourselves. What we would want to see happen in Kenya--as "peaceful" an approach to these tough times as possible, given the genuine challenges and issues that are causing strife--is what we need to try to apply here among ourselves.
      Thank you to Andrius and Ken for trying to understand Rachel's thoughts and feelings about the "Peace Caravan" issue. Ken, your solution is a good one, and much appreciated!  I am wondering what the words in Italian are for "peace" and for "journey"?  You might want to consider combining one Italian word and one word that would remind people of Kenya/Africa:  so, for instance, "peace" in Italian and "safari", a word of African/Middle-Eastern origin.  Or "peace" in English and an Italian word for "journey".
      The phrase "Peace Caravan", which several of us have pointed out does not belong to any one person, is nonetheless a "brand" that one of our members has already chosen and worked with for a number of years. This is also the url of her organization. So it would be wiser, kinder, and more respectful to this member if something else was chosen to name this new venture, and all of us greatly thank you for considering this, Ken and Chris.
      Ken, as an aside, I have always regarded you and Nafsi as "owners" of the "Pyramid of Peace" name, certainly among us here (not sure if you invented the phrase, but this is where all of us have heard of it first, I believe).  It was very good of you to "loan" it for our collective endeavor last year.
      I feel it is important to say here, in the same vein as we have been discussing with "Peace Caravan", that you/Nafsi should have the final say in whether that term is still used for our collective efforts, or not.  The words themselves may be in common parlance, but not among us here, until you introduced them. That is your "brand", so please always feel free to tell us what you would like to do with it.
      It would be great, as Andrius suggests, if somehow all of you might work together--perhaps the "Peace Caravan" being the Kenya-based activity, and the "Peace Journey" (Safari, Tourney) being the "international" version, taking place in Italy for Kenyans living there and other interested parties. That way, you would each have your own "space", your own brand, and you could also work together in some form, if you so choose.
      This situation illustrates, to me, the need to balance the "individual" with the "collective", and in that way, this is like a family too, and like a nation. It is so important that each of us gets to be an individual within the group setting. Yet it is equally important that we remember that we indeed ARE part of a group, a collective, something larger than ourselves. That does change how we approach what we want to do as individuals. Rather than see this as a "limit", hopefully it can be seen as growth in another guise!
      So Ken and Chris, it's great for purposes of "family feeling" that you will consider changing the name of your venture, and hopefully in this regard, Rachel will also think about how all of you might work together. 
      One other matter that will be helpful if not healing:  I gather there is still as issue abt some film related to your collective peace efforts in Kenya last year?  Can we get an update on that?
      Andrius, what I have been saying above also applies to any letter to Kofi Annan:  your suggestion of letting Rachel and others (and I would like this too) see a letter you might write is a good one, as we collectively engaged last year in the Pyramid of Peace activities, so the "family" does need and deserves to have a say in what goes out in this regard, if any letter does go out.
      I understand where you are coming from when you say you would do this as an individual, but the fact is that nothing we did last year--including your own work--was done solely as an individual. Everything we did was in linkage to others. With so many "family" members being highly uncomfortable with the idea of you writing a letter--at least one asking for compensation--it is important that, if any letter is written, it is only done with the agreement of us all about its contents.
      This segues into what Peter Ongele has said in terms of IDPs, and interestingly, connects in my view to the way he has approached you. I am not going to speak to the veracity (or not) of what he has said, but to his tone, which is "critical". And you, Andrius, have responded to that--understandably--with the same "fire".
      In that same vein, an approach by you (Andrius) to corporations--focusing on what they did not do last year, and in a sense, shaming them for that--is most likely going to elicit the same reaction you have had to what Peter said to you.
      That tone, stance, or approach is not going to encourage them to willingly and gladly give money, for whatever reason.  They may feel shamed, and that may induce them to give money, but I'm sure they would also feel resentment, even a feeling of being extorted, because their giving would not be done from a place of concern and caring.
      We need to try to "be peace" in our approach to them, if peace is our goal. A critical approach may also backfire completely, in such a way that funds we might otherwise have gotten to help IDPs et al would not be forthcoming.
      It may be true that many corps did not do what they might have done. But we should consider the nature of corps to begin with, the bureaucracy and sluggishness that characterizes so many of them. Enlisting them now to help "solve" a problem--the terrible situation IDPs still find themselves in, one year later--is much better than pointing to them as part of the problem, and then asking for money. 
      We might mention to them that a group such as ours can be helpful precisely as a "rapid-reaction", frontline response. Whereas they can help to provide the follow-on, longer-term resources needed for a sustained response.
      This discussion is also pertinent for whatever "we" do related to continuing peace efforts. Is "we" going to be defined as each of us as individuals, working in loose concert but also free to do whatever we see fit as individuals, or is it going to be conceived more as a joint venture, a "family" response?
      Just as Kenyans need to pull together as a larger "we", and government leaders need to think more in terms of "we"--and less of their own positions and interests, however noble or even "right" these might be--my own strong feeling and urging is that we work together more as a "we" now, on whatever is done by this group to address peace in present and future.
      Since there is no money available (from some of us), there is no issue of oversight about that. Since we are all "peers", and have members in Kenya perfectly well-qualified to lead our efforts, I suggest that this is where we place the locus of action and decision-making. Hopefully all of us can act together in terms of feedback, discussion, and action, when and in what ways that seems appropriate.  There is not the "crisis", at least at this time, that there was then, so another rationale for taking a new approach.
      What can we do about the IDPs?  Peter, I did try to address that question when you raised it, and I believe that Rachel, Dennis, and others are working in their own individual and organizational capacities on that. For my own part, I would like to bring more of our friends and members back into this discussion, and to work more closely with people and groups I could not last year, especially the women's groups among us.
      We now have more ICTs-related capacities to respond, thanks to Ricardo, Andrius, and others. This is also where the strengthening of the "individual" can and should be linked to the betterment of the collective, at least in terms of "intangible" benefits (not related to money or equipment, but to opportunity), such as learning about what works and what doesn't, with regard to ICTs in rural areas, for one example. These new capacities can now be enlisted to serve peace.
      The idea to establish "peace centers", which Pam and others broached and were enthusiastic about last year, is as pertinent today as it was then.  A number of members in Kenya were eager to do this, using existing facilities--to which we might add in some way (however "we" is defined)--and I think we should return to a discussion about that, as technically several of our members in different locations within Kenya now have the capacity to exert more influence and do more outreach and organizing locally, as well as link up and work together nationally and even internationally.
      These peace centers might not be able to directly help IDPs, but then again, they could help to generate more awareness about the plight of displaced persons. If corps are approached at all, we might consider asking for enhancement of existing telecenters so they could become full-fledged peace centers, operating in various parts of the country. Solidifying and increasing our emergency-response system and capacity would be another.
      In this case, it is important to think about the "greatest good for the greatest number"...in other words, in collective terms, not just in individual terms. Though "being peace" will start within each individual, with each person deciding how they will respond to anger, fear, frustration, criticism, and to people with whom they disagree.  Each "piece" playing its part for overall "peace".
      This of course can and hopefully will also apply to our approach to development of our collective "culture", and to how our individual sub-cultures link to that and to each other, let alone work internally. Each subject area we address has some meaning and connection to other subject areas, let alone to the "whole system".
      A balance between the individual and the group, the specific sub-culture and the collective culture we are creating is so important to address, not only in our conceptions, our processes of deliberation, and our building approaches, but also in whatever actions we take and projects we make.
      I will close this for now with hopes that we can indeed address the situation in Kenya in some form. But also apply our energies and what we are doing and learning to Zimbabwe, which is actually at the point of disintegration as a country. Kenya is nowhere near the brink in that way at present. And elsewhere too...to Afghanistan, India, and any place needed.  From one global village to the other!!
      I extend love and blessings to everyone, and the greatest thanks for being friends and family (hmm, I wrote "fiends" here first, but sometimes fiends are our best friends :))), teachers and students, for being passionate, if occasionally petulent. This is "all good" for our personal and collective growth.
      Here's hoping that we can keep growing together, extending those ripples of learning and development outwards further and further, into ever-widening circles of inclusion!  Janet

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