Thursday, January 25, 2007
Thursday (Ku Wa Kane): Circling the globe with messages of hope
Pat, Anne and Wendy spent the morning facilitating a discussion on Business to Peace (B2P). Pat led the workshop by using circles (one for peace and one for business) to help the associates distinguish the "business mission" from the "peace mission" of their businesses. The associates discovered that these missions overlapped in their businesses and that they will have to manage them both.
Pat then asked the group what advice they have for the Bpeace Afghan associates. The associates embraced the question with enthusiasm, and their answers came pouring out:
Esther advises to “look for peace fast, because you can’t have business without peace.”
Jeanne says that “you have to fight for peace and you have to fight to live. Having a business gives you something to fight for.”
According to Languida, “you must vote to make changes. Fight for your rights and speak out to your government.”
Pascasie recognizes that “today’s leaders were yesterday’s children, and women are the ones who will teach the children.”
“Don’t lose hope,” advises Harriette. “The Rwandan women fight for peace alongside their husbands and sons.”
Solina’s advice is to work together. “When you work together, you get the strength to do what you couldn’t do alone. You get ideas you couldn’t think of on your own. And you’ll think about others, rather than just yourself.”
Peggy says not to stay silent. “Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your problems. You never know when someone might be able to help you.”
Leny notes that many people believe that the government is responsible for peace. She recommends teaching people to take responsibility for making peace. “Even if you don’t know your neighbor, you still should respect their rights. If you encounter a problem, you must try to solve it, even if it means changing your culture.”
Finally, according to Nadia, the women in Rwanda learned from the genocide that they are able to take care of themselves, since the men were also victims and could not protect the women. Her advice is to "be prepared to take care of yourself.”
After this lively and uplifting discussion, Anne led the associates in making personal collages that will hang on a mobile, reflecting images of peace. We will bring it back home for everyone to see and then the B2P team aims to bring the mobile to the associates in Afghanistan, who will add to the mobile to return to Rwanda.
Francois, who owns restaurants, sends her love to Eugenie. For those of you who don’t know Eugenie, she is a genocide survivor living in the US and pursuing a Masters in genocide studies and our team member). Francois was Eugenie’s teacher (and would love to see pictures of Eugenie and Mystica, so email some to Richard).
Remembering and Moving Forward
In the afternoon Anne and Marla shared with the associates what they can expect in the coming months from Bpeace-- including the Economic Development Fund, business training and cost sharing for computer training. With rounds of applause, the women expressed their commitment and gratitude to Bpeace. There is a lot of exciting work ahead for the Rwanda Team. Save the date--February 28th --for the mission presentation in New York City to learn all and get involved.
Then Marla and Anne had a fortuitous meeting with the Customer Development Manager of Johnson Diversey (JD). JD is a cleaning products company with its Africa headquarters based in Kenya. A few months ago JD approached Bpeace Associate Leny to be a distributor for Rwanda and Burundi. Since then Heather and Loretta have been advising Leny on this opportunity. JD is extremely interested in Leny as a quality candidate and with Bpeace in her corner, Leny has an even better chance of winning the contract. It is such a great opportunity that, at one point, Anne considered throwing in her credentials to be considered for the position.
Meanwhile Stephanie, Barbara, Wendy and Lee took the opportunity to explore Kigali. They purchased local crafts and paid a visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre. They experienced many powerful emotions as they viewed the exhibits including one on “how the world looked the other way.” The message that we took away from our visit to the museum is that helping one person can truly help the world. This message embodies the Bpeace mission as we strive to improve our Associate’s lives, and bring peace and prosperity to Rwanda.
And Sabra spent a relaxing day with friends of Bpeace--Joy and Janet visiting their craft shop, where all the cool Rwanda earrings come from. They took Sabra to visit a newly developed facility built for the women who are weaving peace baskets for Macys as well as other retail outlets. The facility includes a dormitory and a cafeteria presently under construction.
We topped off a fulfilling day with drinks with friends of Bpeace--the Ambassador Michael Arietti, his wife Leslie and Danny Stoian, Economic Consul at the Embassy. Leslie promised to visit Richard at his office. Richard said he will not let Leslie leave his office until she becomes a member of Bpeace.
From the BBC. "The Rwandan authorities must deal with the killings of survivors of the 1994 genocide, says Human Rights Watch. A significant number of witnesses in the traditional judicial process, known as gacaca, have been killed in recent years, says the US-based lobby group. Prompt and effective law enforcement is needed, or the deaths could trigger a new cycle of violence, HRW warns."
As this news story signfies, peace is a process, not an event. Thank you team for the simply amazing, maybe even profound, work you are doing.