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Alumni News

News from and about MPI Alumni

Sri Lanka has to Endure it and Rise Again

Sri Lanka has to Endure it and Rise Again

The following reflection comes from J.M. Jospeh Jeyaseelan, CMF, an alumnus of MPI's 2018 Annual Peacebuilding Training. Fr. Joseph is a member of the Claretian Missionaries and author of the book Reconciliation and Peacebuilding in Post-war Sri Lanka: through the Healing of Memories and the Role of the Catholic Church. This reflection is part of Fr. Joseph's "Occasional Thoughts" series.

Sri Lanka is experiencing one of its darkest times in history. I am receiving email after email from concerned friends from around the world with inquiries about the situation in Sri Lanka. As I prepare this short write-up, I hear about an incident of a bomb explosion in Colombo (22 April at 4:30 PM). I have received also an alert on my mobile phone about a suspicious vehicle being checked in the outskirts of Colombo (5 PM). The government has decided to declare tomorrow (23 April) as a national day of mourning. Some form of emergency laws is going to come into effect from midnight today. The police curfew that was lifted early this morning is going to be re-imposed. More and more suspicious peoples, articles, and vehicles are being checked or apprehended. And fear and uncertainty is enveloping the entire nation.

The government looks helpless as it is struggling to comprehend the motivation and the culprits behind the mayhem that has rocked the country since the Easter morning. However, people are confused with the announcement by the country's Prime Minister that there was some early warning which had not been sufficiently attended to. And, this is damn serious given the scenario that has unfolded in the country in less than 48 hours. One government Minister, a presidential aspirant, was seen making promises to rebuild to their former glory all the churches that have been damaged. He seems not to have comprehended the fact that the lost lives cannot be recovered and that it is that loss the country is mourning now and not the desecration of walls and sacred objects.

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Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

Friends of MPI, India: A Growing Network of Peacebuilders

On Tuesday, 29 January 2019, 15 MPI alumni gathered at Stella Maris College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. This reunion in India was the third time that MPI alumni came together to mutually support one another, and for them to share what they have been doing since being involved with MPI and to hear about new developments at MPI. This was the first MPI alumni reunion in India.

Welcoming participants to the gatheringMPI took advantage of the opportunity that was presented because of the International Conference on Peace Building and Conflict Transformation: Moving from Violence to Sustainable Peace, that was organized by Stella Maris College (Autonomous) in Chennai from 30-31 January 2019. MPI was invited to attend this conference and thus thought it worthwhile to organize this alumni gathering.

The participants present at the meeting had joined the MPI Annual Peacebuilding Training between 2002 and 2018. Some already knew each other, being from the same year, and were so happy to reconnect. Some were meeting with other MPI alumni for the first time and were grateful for this connection.

The sharing of stories and experiences regenerated a feeling of oneness, a feeling of belonging to the bigger MPI peacebuilding family, a feeling that many had longed for when they first decided to join the gathering. It was such a powerful reunion. Everyone was highly motivated and committed to come up with concrete plans on how to reinforce peacebuilding work in India.

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Using Art as an Expression of Peace

Using Art as an Expression of Peace

Redentor Alejado is a humble peacebuilder who started with hope and is now working to make other youths’ hopes and dreams possible. He believes that art can be an effective tool to express one’s thoughts, feelings and emotions in a nonviolent way.

While still in college, Alejado participated in Southern Christian College (SCC)/Office of the Vice President for Research and Extension (OVPRE) programs such as the Summer Institute for Peace and Development Motivators (SIPDM) in Midsayap, Cotabato, in Southern Philippines. This was part of his early formation and gave him a new perspective in life and how to look at peace and development.

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The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace)

The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace)

  pdf The Invitation (Up the Hills of Peace) (1.62 MB) is a book of poetry by MPI Alumnus Julius Nzang.

"Most of the poems in this collection speak of several distinct times in the progression of the conflict in Cameroon, especially in the wake of its violent turn around. Some of them are based on personal experiences, personal responses to collective experiences, and collective responses to experiences within the confines of the conflict. Others, just like every work of art, meet expressly the unique criterion of the genre, while some fall under free verse. As you read, try to empathize with the human who lives these dilemmas on a daily basis, whose reality has been radically shifted from calm and peacefulness to brutality, insecurity and uncertainty (from the Introduction)."

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Touching Lives and Bringing Smiles

Touching Lives and Bringing Smiles

Working with the Barrackpore Avenue Women’s Culture and Social Welfare Society (BAWCSW), I see the people in the community with whom I work as part of my family. BAWCSW was established in 2016 with the aim to help the most disenfranchised people in India. The social structures of caste and patriarchy in India result in discrimination against minorities, especially against the women, children, and elders. In many cases, the feminist struggles of society are lacking since women are not allowed to express their opinion and are supposed to “stand behind the curtains.”

Culture is something that should be cherished and nurtured. It is an important part of any community or group of people. Yet, when the culture is distorted, it can have a destructive face. If elements of the culture are not benefitting the people, it should not remain as part of the culture.

One way to deal with social problems caused by the misinterpretation of culture values can be seen in the work of BAWCSW. The Peace Support Group (PSG) and the shelter for children and elders were created to decrease communal disharmony in society.

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