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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Creators of Peace Circles connect women in Wellington

There are sometimes misperceptions that the Creators of Peace Circle Programme was developed solely for trouble-spots of conflict, and questions raised to how relevant it would be in a (relatively) peaceful country like New Zealand. Jean Brown, who developed the Peace Circles, notes that Peace Circles were actually intended for countries just like New Zealand, where although people live in relative peace, misunderstandings over differences in culture, religion and ideals lie just beneath the surface, often not discussed or identified. The growing gap between rich and poor, often along cultural divides, can only add fuel to these divides.

The three Peace Circles recently run in Wellington were opportunities for women to look at these divides, both in our communities and in our hearts, and to ask the question, ‘What role do I have in creating peace in my home, community and country?’ We learnt that peace is not just the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice in our society, that peace is not an end point, but an ongoing process of building relationships starting in the home with each of us.

One of the special relationships built was between a Malaysian Muslim and a Samoan Christian who, although living on the same street, had never stopped and spoken to each other until the Peace Circle. The Christian woman was able to ask her new friend many questions about her faith, questions which had stemmed from common misperceptions. The Muslim lady was keen to tell the group about the peaceful message of Islam and shared her concerns about terrorism and fear of Muslims.

Following one particular Peace Circle the women have kept in touch by meeting to teach each other how to cook something from their country. New comers have been welcomed to this group so in this way the Peace Circles are attempting to reach out into the community and exemplifying the trust-building we would like to see in New Zealand. Thanks to a recent Facilitators Training programme offered by Jean Brown, seven women have now been trained as facilitators to take this vision forward, with more Circles planned for 2014.