"By participating at Play for Peace, I know that different religious and ethnicity can unite and can be a community."
-Kuhn Lar Bway, Play for Peace Trainee in Myanmar
At Play for Peace, our work in regions around the world sometimes involves helping communities heal in the midst situations of ethnic and religious conflict, discrimination and even violence. In 2014-2015, we were invited to South Sudan to help children, youth and communities heal from the trauma of civil war.
Last Fall, our seasoned Certified Trainers Swati Bhatt and Agyat Mitra spent more than 20 days traveling around Myanmar, working with members of several ethnic groups. With the help of their friend Jim Connor, founder of an organization called Whispering Seed, they conducted five trainings in four regions around the country involving 190 participants. The newly trained Play for Peace mentors and youth leaders conducted 19 Practice Peace Sessions in their local communities that involved 450 child participants. Swati and Agyat helped start four new Play for Peace Clubs in Myanmar.
In an op-ed piece in Sunday’s New York Times, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof drew attention to a dangerous situation in Myanmar -- the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group. Members of the Rohingya community are being confined to camps and, with the exception of those set up by nonprofit organizations, children are not able to go to school.
Members of the Rohingya community were among the groups trained by Swati and Agyat to conduct peace education for diverse groups of children. The focus of the trip was create Burmese peace-builders who would take our methodology of teaching inclusion, cooperation and caring to all parts of the country. A shift in local public opinion about the importance of including everyone in their very new democracy could be key in preventing further marginalization and violence.
Our own volunteer blogger, Anu Sood, started her Myanmar Series of blog posts last Fall, and she continues to write stories that highlight experiences of our trainers there. We will continue to provide updates on our work in Myanmar, where much more needs to be done to bring peace across ethnic and religious divides.
In light of the recent developments in Myanmar, we wanted to share Anu’s entire series of posts:
Working with the Metta Center for Nonviolence in Bago
Election Day in Myanmar
Training in Mandalay
Sowing Seeds of Change in Mandalay
Thoughts from a New Play for Peace Trainee
Sharing Play for Peace with Buddhist Monks
Trainees Become Leaders in Naung Taung
Play for Peace in the Jade State
Never Too Old to Play