The International Consortium on Nurturing Values and Spirituality in Early Childhood for the Prevention of Violence against Children, which was launched in August 2018 by Arigatou International and its partners, is continuing its activities with a set of roundtables hosted by various members of the Consortium in different countries.
In February, Arigatou International – Geneva attended the World Innovation Summit for Education’s biennial, or WISE@Paris, which was held in Paris on 20-21 February 2019. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative thinking, debate, and purposeful action for new approaches to education, launched in 2009 by the Qatar Foundation.
Following the calls from our network of educators for the adaptation of the Learning to Live Together (LTLT) Programme to middle childhood years, Arigatou International – Geneva is continuing the two-year process of adaptation of the Programme. The first two pilots in this process took place in Lisbon, Portugal, 8-10 February, and Nairobi, Kenya, 18-23 February.
In light of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, Arigatou International co-organized together with several partners, a side event to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Ending Violence Against Children – The Contributions from Religious Communities”, on 6 March 2019. The event was attended by over 100 people and more than 20 representatives from Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva.
“There is no hope for peace without knowledge, which awakens us to our shared identity and connectedness as human beings”, said Mr. Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College (US) and Columnist at Huffington Post.
The first-ever International Day of Education was celebrated on 24 January 2019, to recognize that inclusive and quality education is a human right and a crucial component to building a world free of poverty, achieving gender equality, and creating a better world. It is also the focus of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal, "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all." To honor this commemoration, a panel discussion on Education for Peace and Development was held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Arigatou International, in partnership with UNICEF, organized a panel discussion on Ending Violence in Early Childhood – Working Together with Religious Communities, on 6 November 2018 in Toronto, Canada, in the framework of the Parliament of World Religions.
As part of the 10th-anniversary celebrations of the Learning to Live Together Programme, Arigatou International - Geneva organized a series of seminars in Bosnia andHerzegovina, Colombia, Israel, and Sri Lanka to foster reflections about the critical need for learning to live together in contemporary societies and amidst violence, discrimination, populism and violent ideologies.
The Learning to Live Together Programme (LTLT) was first introduced to Indonesia during a facilitator training workshop conducted by GNRC South Asia and Arigatou International – Geneva, in partnership with the Indonesian National Commission for UNESCO in 2012 and with the help of Ms. Wati Wardani and Mr. Fendra Kusmani. Since then, it has reached more than 1,000 children in more than 30 schools in the country.
During the latest years, Arigatou International –Geneva has received a strong call from its network of educators to develop a new edition of the Learning to Live Together Programme for younger children. The Geneva office is responding to these requests by undertaking the task of coordinating a 2-year-long process of adapting the manual to the ages of 7 to 11.
Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou International, spoke on the significance of religion for keeping children safe in today’s digital world during the Faith Leaders’ Summit at the conclusion of the global conference of the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities on protecting child dignity online. The conference, which took place November 19-20, 2018 in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) Armed Forces, and co-organized by Arigatou International and other partners.
The conference brought together 450 participants including religious leaders, representatives from international and grassroots organizations, governments, faith-inspired organizations, peace practitioners and heads of industry and business entities to discuss the world’s social challenges and develop comprehensive solutions for protecting children and youth from online exploitation and cybercrime.
Rev. Keishi Miyamoto, President of Arigatou InternationalRev. Miyamoto first expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to speak and his deep appreciation that Arigatou International had been selected as a partner organization to help plan and organize the conference. He went on to describe Arigatou International’s mission to build a peaceful world where every child can grow up safe and sound and pursue happiness. He touched on the progress of science and medicine, noting that, although they can inform us about what happens in the world, they cannot give us a vision for what the world ought to be like.
Rev. Miyamoto then posed the question: “What, then, can give us ultimate guidance on what to do with our lives, our precious, finite lives?” His answer was that religion is more needed today than ever before.
“In the pursuit of ultimate happiness, religion is needed, as long as humankind exists. There is a certain glorious joy to be experienced when realizing the pure blessing it is to have been born as a human being — here one can understand true happiness, the meaning and purpose of life. This same joy also makes clear the root causes of greed, anger and envy. So, in a world where science and medicine have made great progress, I am completely convinced that religion can be more helpful than ever, especially for the children, who are the future of humanity, and that religious leaders must do much more for children.”
Finally, he expressed his wish for the conference to result in finding solutions to all the challenges of keeping children safe in today’s digital world and vowed to support this effort in every way possible through both prayer and action.
The other speakers alongside Rev. Miyamoto at the Faith Leaders’ Summit were Her Holiness Mata Amritanandamayi (Hindu Spiritual Leader), Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr. Mohinder Singh, OBE KSG (Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha), Rabbi Michael Schudrich (Chief Rabbi of Poland), His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel (Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of France), and Prof. Dr. Ahmad Al–Tayib (Imam, Al-Azhar Grand Mosque, Cairo).
The conference was co-organized by a number of global organizations including Al Azhar University, Arigatou International, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Gregorian University, International Justice Mission, Religions for Peace International, Shanti Ashram, The Center for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University, The Child Dignity Alliance, UNICEF, WePROTECT Global Alliance and World Vision International.
“Education cannot any longer compartmentalize learning spaces based on socio-economic status, religion, learning abilities or even gender, as these are the very factors that divide and create fear of the other in societies”, said Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International Geneva, at the World Tolerance Summit held in Dubai from 15 to 16 November 2018.
The Good Practices Booklet: Learning to Play Together, has been translated into Romanian language thanks to the joint efforts made by English and Romanian language teachers, as well as literature, physical education, and sports teachers, together with directors of educational institutions and other collaborators in the country.
Ms. Maria Lucia Uribe, Director of Arigatou International – Geneva, participated in the Steering Group meeting of the Partnership for Religion and Development – PaRD, that took place in Toronto from 7 to 9 November 2018 at the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC).
Over the summer, the United Religions Initiative (URI) - Europe and Arigatou International - Geneva partnered together to organize a youth camp involving children from the Netherlands and Bulgaria, between the ages of 12-17.
The issue of how to cultivate a culture of caring in educational settings, and what conceptions and practices are best suited to integrate caring into educational institutions, is complex and yet crucial to creating a peaceful and harmonious society and providing children with a holistic education. This topic led the discussions at the 2nd International Symposium, “Cultivating Caring in Educational Institutions: Conceptions and Practices”, organized by the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace (GHFP) and the Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, with the participation of Arigatou International - Geneva.
The Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) Bosnia Herzegovina, in partnership with Arigatou International - Geneva, organized a Facilitator Training Workshop, which took place on 27 to 30 September 2018 and brought together 22 educators from primary and secondary schools, religious communities, and other organizations.
Sixteen participants took part in a four-day Facilitator Training Workshop on the Learning to Live Together Programme, which was held in Bogotá from 16 to 19 August bringing together religious communities, formal education institutions, and representatives from civil society and faith-based organizations. This included the participation of representatives from 11 Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, and secular organizations.
Arigatou International - Geneva, in collaboration with UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA) is developing a program on “Youth Empowerment for Peace and Resilience Building and Prevention of Violent Extremism in Sahel Countries through Teacher Development” in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.
Education can be a tool for refugee or migrant children to integrate into their new host societies, and has the potential to empower them to lead a joyful and fruitful life. It is with this idea in mind that a panel discussion on Empowering Youth Through Education: Challenging Xenophobia, Discrimination, and Exclusion among Youth in Europe was held, reflecting on the role of education in fostering more inclusive societies and empowering youth.
Arigatou International - Geneva, in collaboration with its partners, the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, Islamic Relief Worldwide, UNICEF, World Vision International, and, facilitated a panel discussion which marked the final event of Geneva Peace Week.
This year marks the 70th anniversary since the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly. It is in this context that the Ninth International Forum of NGOs, in partnership with UNESCO, took place in Tunis, from 26 to 27 September. The Conference was hosted by the Arab Institute for Human Rights, with the theme ‘Another perspective on Migration’, which aimed to discuss human mobility and its impacts on building sustainable peace and development.
UNICEF and Comics Uniting Nations are calling on children and young people to defeat the ultimate supervillain – The Silence – to help end violence in and around schools.
The Silence – a supernatural character that uses its powers to stop children from speaking up and taking action against violence in and around schools – was unveiled at New York Comic Con this week to launch UNICEF and Comics Uniting Nations’ superhero comic contest. Children and young people aged 25 years and under are invited to design their own comic superhero that will defeat The Silence and help keep children safe in school.
“There should be no room for Silence when it comes to children’s safety,” said UNICEF Director of Communication Paloma Escudero. “With this creative contest, we are hoping to get students, teachers, families and communities to speak up and beat The Silence.”
From fighting and bullying to sexual harassment and corporal punishment, violence in and around school can have devastating, long-term consequences for children. The Silence superhero comic contest will encourage children and young people to be part of UNICEF’s global campaign to shed light on and spark action to #ENDviolence in schools through the creative medium of comic design.
The top submissions in the contest will be chosen after the closing date on 25th October by a special panel of judges, including comic artist Gabriel Picolo and last year’s comic contest winner Sathviga ‘Sona’ Sridhar. The public will then have the opportunity to vote online for their favourite comic hero between 16th and 25thNovember. The winner will be announced in December and will work with a professional team to turn their winning idea into a full-length comic book. Their comic will be presented to World Leaders at the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations in July 2019, as well as distributed to schools and children worldwide.
21-year-old Sathviga ‘Sona’ Sridhar, from Chennai, India, won UNICEF’s inaugural superhero comic contest in 2017. With a focus on combatting climate change, her winning character ‘Light’ was a half tree-half human who uses special powers to save nature from a warming planet. The contest received nearly 2,900 submissions by young people from 99 different countries and more than 21,000 votes from 162 countries were cast to determine the winner.
For more information visit: https://uni.cf/school-superhero
In July 2018, the Caux Forum convened a series of training workshops under the thematic Towards an Inclusive Peace which addressed the topic of Restoring Communities and Advancing justice. The workshops looked at the topic of reintegration of those who have been radicalized and are either being prosecuted or returning voluntarily to their communities, through a restorative justice lens.
Arigatou International Geneva in collaboration with the Sarvodaya Movement - Sri Lanka organized a facilitator training workshop (FTW) for representatives of religious communities, government, faith-based and civil society organizations in Colombo from 11 to 15 July 2018. This was the second FTW with open applications held by Arigatou International Geneva since 2012.
The workshop was conducted with a focus on how to use the Learning to Live Together Programme and integrate it in organizational programs to contribute to peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.