Opening of Living Peace: Celebrating 25 Years of Creators of Peace
The Living Peace Conference opened on 6 August 2016, bringing together women, and some men, from 43 different countries at the Caux Palace to celebrate all that Creators of Peace has achieved over the last 25 years and to look forward to what is ahead.
“We are here united in our firm belief that we can make a difference, that we can bring positive change to the place in the world in which we live.”, said Dr Gill Hicks, survivor of the London terrorist bombings at the opening.
"Do what you are passionate about and take one day at a time" - Dr Omnia Marzouk
“People can make a change in their community provided they apply the same values in their daily life”, said Dr Omnia Marzouk, as she shared how her experiences as IofC President and as a pediatrician in one of London's busiest hospital has led her to enriching encounters with people of different faiths and values. Impressed by the global solidarity network created by CoP for last 25 years, Dr. Marzouk commented that interpersonal and informative dialogue during the conflict and in post-conflict situations is a must and that women’s engagement is needed in every level of peacebuilding. She remarked that peacebuilding is not a once in a life time decision but a daily commitment and on-going journey.
"Living our peace is about living our example, advocacy, leadership. Living Peace is our collective responsibility" - Dr Gill Hicks
Dr. Gill Hicks shared with the audience the powerful and inspirational story of how her encounter with terrorism and the permanent injuries she suffered during the London bombings on 6 July 2005 led her to enter life with a different outlook and motivation and her process of healing encouraged her to advocate for sustainable peace. This experience taught her to value people as they have the capacity to make or break situations, make the right choices as to how to react and respond, overcome fear with confidence, and receive and give love as much as possible. Dr Hicks ended her poignant speech by asking the audience: “Does it have to take a tragedy or a disaster for us to feel deeply connected as human beings, as one species?”
The day continued with an enriching session with the seven of the original founding mothers of Creators of Peace. The session comprised of seven of the original group that planned the first CoP conference back in 1991, that saw 700 people come to Caux. Ahunna Eziakonwa of Nigeria, Vijaylakshmi Subarmanyan of India, Paige Chargois and Tata Mbugua of the USA, Amina Dikedi of the UK, Digna Hitzen of the Netherlands and Christiane Garin of Switzerland all shared how they started CoP regionally and then internationally; the challenges they faced; the initial conferences they pulled together in the absence of the internet and other technologies, the way they raised funds and so on.
The most important message the mothers gave the audience was that despite the odds and discouragement they faced, they kept moving forward towards establishing this movement. Deep listening, dialogue and trusting each other is what kept the women going and they were encouraged by each other’s dedication and passion towards bringing sustainable peace in the world.
The session ended with a beautiful dedication to remember CoP women who are no longer with us and a touching moment when the children placed specially made scarves around the founding mothers who then distributed the scarves to all of the women at the conference as a symbol of gratitude and handing over to the next generation.
The conference will explore what is means to "live peace" and will bring forward the incredible stories of women creating peace all over the world.
Graphic Recording Design by Willemijn Lambert