August 28, 2012, 12:36 PM
The training program came to Kottarakkara, Kerala, India from Aug. 23 through 29. Hosted by URI’s International Peace Research Institute and the Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Centre for Dialogue, the session brought together more than 200 participants from Africa, Australia, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. They included URI Director of Regional Development Sally Mahe (United States), URI Global Council Assistant Treasurer Ravindra Kandage (Sri Lanka),URI Global Council Assistant Secretary K. Vasudeva Rao (India), URI India South Zone Coordinator Abraham Karickam (India), URI India East Zone Coordinator Biswadeb Chakraborty (India), URI India North Zone Coordinator Hira Paul Gangnegi (India), Emmanuel Evorgba (Nigeria), Ian Fry (Australia), Hira Paul (India) and Abu Taher (Bangladesh). The Right Rev. Thomas Mar Timotheos Episcopa presided over the meeting.
The program began with an inauguration by the Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Mar Thoma Metropolitan on Aug. 23 at the Jubilee Mandiram chapel in Kottarakkara. The initial meeting featured a scintillating performance on the tabala by Mr. Chakraborty, while the next day included an early-morning yoga session and a walk by the Ithikkara River.
The group then focused on four inspirational tales of peace: how a group of women in Wagir, Kenya helped prevent a war; how the peacebuilding initiatives of the students at a Montessori school in India led to the school being honored by UNESCO; how two girls in Sri Lanka established a truce between two contentious villages; and how a young proponent of peace helped mediate a conflict between two warring factions in Ghana.
The event included a special lecture, “Conflict Transformation: Challenges and Possibilities,” by Sri. Prasanna Venkitachariar Chaturvedi Swamiji, chair of the Sri Ramanuja Mission Trust, on Aug. 27 at the Mar Thoma College of Science and Technology in Kerala. Participants also visited both URI’s Regional Office and the Karickam International Public School, where children greeted them with coconut drinks and a host of cultural performances.
Other participants at the training event included Varun Agarwal (India), Sowmya Ayyar (India), Kaushil Chatterjee (India), Francis Halder (Bangladesh), Lakna Harindi (Sri Lanka), Lukia Kaweski (Uganda), Ashwani Kumar (India), Annie Lagi (India), Niyambura Mundia (Kenya), Chandrika Nayana (Sri Lanka), Irene Petricia (Sri Lanka), C.N.N. Raju (India), Greshma P. Raju (India), Thomadura Rasika (Sri Lanka) and Leya Varghese (India).