Today is Peace Day, a day where the world is invited to pause and reflect on what peace means wherever we are and whatever is happening; a task that is harder for some than others. It may seem impossible for those who have known nothing but conflict in their lives, and yet there is something amazing about the human capacity to hold the possibility of peace in our hearts even whilst at war or in personal conflict situations.
People have inspired us throughout time with their ability to share their soul’s yearning for peace - Nelson Mandela springs to mind - and many many others who have found ways to reconcile with others who have caused them harm and from that place of peace gone on to influence the lives of thousands who follow.
All our thoughts, feelings and actions matter. Everything we do, feel and think affects everyone around us. Which is why we believe that education for peace is probably the most important thing to do in the world. If we can support children to grow in a way that helps them to understand, feel and believe that as humans it is within their power to respond to every good and bad thing that happens in a way that can contribute to a better world for all, then as educators we will have done the best job imaginable.
Children in Rwanda are growing up in the shadow of a terrible recent past where every adult in their lives will have been directly affected in some way by the genocide of 22 years ago. They are also growing up in a country which is stable, prospering and optimistic, and they have the opportunity to transform the suffering of their parents into the most shining example of peace in the world today.
APIE is committed to supporting that journey. We focus on creating an ethos for children to thrive as human beings, learning to take care of themselves, others and the environment, to celebrate life and its infinite possibilities and to have compassion for those in need. Our pilot project, Umubano Primary School, is fully inclusive, welcoming and providing for children of all backgrounds and circumstances.
All this week at Umubano Primary School there are activities allowing everyone to reflect on what peace means - on a personal, national and global level - and to come together with parents and the wider community. On Friday this will culminate in a day of reflection and celebration for the journey travelled so far and to greet the challenges of the journey ahead.
With both gratitude and determination in our hearts, we feel privileged to work with the wonderful people in Rwanda to support it to become a country the world looks to as a beacon of hope. The signs are good! Human beings are amazing and out of the ashes of genocide can come the phoenix of peace. We wish everyone a Happy Peace Day and hope that peace will come to you wherever you are.
If you want to find out more about Peace Day and explore some of the ways in which it is influencing change, see Peace One Day for more information.