The three Cooperation Circles featured today have a common theme: helping disadvantaged youth. By reaching out to the children of the next generation, these groups are not only making a difference in the lives of children, but are also making a wise investment in the future. When youth learn at an early age that cooperation with people of other faiths and traditions is necessary for a healthier, happier community, peace has more chances to flourish.
Springtide Opus, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Springtide Opus focuses on mentorship and interfaith bridge-building with disadvantaged youth. They provide access to safe activities and programs (such as working with music teachers) to help children engage in constructive social opportunities. By providing educational programs to at-risk children, the group hopes to break the cycle of youth violence and drug addiction. “Our objective is to help children develop habits for peaceful living in a community of different religious groups.”
The Cooperation Circle helps children to develop money-saving habits through pooling shared resources for community benefit.“ When the money from their collective savings is used, it creates a sense of cooperation among children of different religious groups.” The ultimate goal is interfaith and intercultural peace building. “Through our Bachat Gat Program (Self Help Group), we spread messages of love and peaceful coexistence among members of different religious groups using music. This kind of activity leads to the creation of an atmosphere in which it will be difficult for children to participate in religiously motivated violence.”
Society for Welfare of Handicapped, Saidfipur, Punjab, India
Society for Welfare of Handicapped is the only residential school in North India focused on providing the needs of deaf, and blind children through empowerment and education. The Society provides free education, food, and lodging to boys and girls from all different communities, religious backgrounds, and age groups. Students receive both formal and vocational education through qualified teachers with modern teaching equipment. The Society for Welfare of Handicapped values an integrated approach to education which stresses sustainable life skills, self-esteem, and courage to enable students to become “service providers, not service seekers”.
“Our CC, Society for Welfare of the Handicapped, is working for the cause of free education and rehabilitation of deaf and blind children as creative and equal partners in community building. The school is open for everyone irrespective of caste, class, color and region. As a URI CC, we strive to consciously maintain gender and community diversity both in staff and student strength.”
Based in rural western Kenya, Angalidom spreads a “peaceology” doctrine to members of various faith and cultural traditions through books, dialogues, and community programs in order to solve community challenges. The Cooperation Circle promotes peace education and training alongside its program offering support for orphans and vulnerable children. In order to support the children, the group engages in small scale farming and cultivating nippier grass.
By reaching out and helping the upcoming generation, Angalidom has high hopes for the future of the community. “We focus on addressing root-causes of such problems before they erupt; and this has yielded fruits. The fact that some of our members prior to engaging with us had open prejudices against their counterparts, but are now in good terms with each other is a sign that things have changed.”