While we are lucky to be able to post countless photos and videos of our clubs looking happy, unified, and full of laughter, many of these groups face turmoil and unrest in their communities on a regular basis. One area that has recently experienced such conflict is New Delhi, India, where violent riots resulted in much destruction and the loss of at least 42 lives.
Shortly thereafter, in a corner of Mumbai, a group of vibrant youth—part of the Play for Peace Mumbai Club—conducted a peace session to address the devastating recent events. Led by certified trainer and mentor Neelu Grover, the 49 youth in attendance—ranging from age 15 to 25 from diverse religious backgrounds—participated in cooperative play activities and talked about the riots. They also discussed their values and how despite their differences, they are able to come together to work toward peace and can engage in volunteer activities that benefit their community.
While the group was not directly involved in the riots, there were minor clashes nearby as a result. And since their parents in Mumbai saw similar riots back in 1994, their community has experienced much post traumatic stress and impact. The group’s overall feeling is that inequality is the major cause of the riots—and much of the conflict in the country. However, there are other factors as well—Islamophobia is on the rise in many Indian communities and the threat of communalism and fascism also exists.
To combat these issues, Play for Peace Mumbai works in local communities experiencing conflict, organizing sessions with youth and children to create peace and safe spaces where they can express their opinions and share their ideas and stories.
According to Neelu, at the end of their recent session, the group came to an important conclusion.
“They have the opportunity to use the gift of choice to create a world where love speaks louder than hate, and where peace speaks louder than violence.” he said. We are proud of the work our club in Mumbai is doing and that despite conflict and the differences that exist in their community they are coming together to create peace.