We reached in Portugal, via Skype, Carlos Palma, President of the Youth World Peace Forum, to learn about the prospects of peace open from the third edition of the Forum that ended in Madaba, Jordan, on September 25, 2017. The projects being promoted include a protocol for the dissemination of a culture of peace, "The Charta Peace".
Carlos, though at a distance, we have followed the Forum: we got news from the work camp for the Madaba refugees, along with many greetings and encouragement messages from all over the world, as well as about the Forum, where hundreds of young peacemakers from all over the world have engaged in dialogue, shared their experiences, and their “different” commitment to peace ... Can you tell us something more about what you lived in those days?
"Let us begin with the camp: there were 100 young people coming from 30 countries, some thirty of whom came from various cities in Syria, from Baghdad, and from the Palestine... With all of them, as you said, we lived this experience of the work camp for Iraqi and Syrian refugees. We visited and repaired their homes, while listening not without emotion to their stories, strongly marked by traumatic events, by physical and psychological wounds. We played with their children, we worked with some of them who are mosaicists and survive only through the sale of their small works of art, while waiting to leave Jordan heading to other countries. This experience has disclosed us a daily reality of refugees that is very different from what reported by the media. Their stories, often very hard, have sparked in us very deep emotions! I can say in the name of everyone that the encounter with these people has marked our lives forever!"
And how about the Forum?
"Wait, may I say something more about the Camp? The most beautiful thing was to see the mutual collaboration among the young people who came from the experience of Living Peace, which I co-ordinate internationally, the members of the organization Non dalla Guerra, and Caritas Jordan. Among them, but I could say, among us, a profound relationship, made up of much esteem and gratitude, came about, built by means of many acts of love, listening, self-giving, and much work done together, for and with the refugees".
Then, on September 22, the second part of the Third Youth World Peace Forum started with the title, "Now is the time"...
"At least an additional 750 young people have joined the Forum since last Friday, with background experiences in ecclesial and university movements… there were whole classes of students, or parish communities from different countries, but also of different faiths. With them we spent two very beautiful days, in a climate of joy, brotherhood, and full sharing about who are we and what are we doing.... thanks to a sharing of experiences and projects, and with very interesting workshops that were real peace labs, where peace was lived from various perspectives".
In your opinion, how did and will the Forum impact the prospects for peace in our planet?
"A protocol was drafted, and we called it ‘The Charta of Peace’ - a practical tool to witness the importance of effective actions of conflict resolution. In the Charta, we address all the governments of the world for them to give a prompt response in terms of conflict resolution, especially in the Middle East, and to restore dignity and humanity to all refugees in neighboring countries. But we also make an appeal to citizens all over the world for them to become more aware of what is happening in the conflicts still in progress and their consequences".
"The Charta of Peace is divided into three chapters that outline three main topics. In the first chapter, entitled ‘Conflict Resolution,’ we underline the importance of putting an end to all the ongoing conflicts, especially in the Middle East. Because wars are not only made of weapons and economic or political interests, but also of the future, hopes, and dreams of those people who are forced to leave their homeland. We do not want new generations to grow with the conviction that wars have always existed, and consequently they take it for granted; we want to give rise to violence-prevention activities involving national authorities and individual citizens. We must prevent war through education".
And how about the second chapter?
"It deals with ‘Social and Economic Issues’. We urge local authorities to promote good integration and coexistence practices to overcome prejudices and promote mutual knowledge and understanding. We encourage each single citizen of the world to see ‘the others’ as someone who can bring about development, new ideas, and knowledge. The indicator of successful integration is the ability to cooperate. But this is not enough ... we must find ways to ‘Raise awareness’, and here I come to the third chapter - the most important action is to increase knowledge in order to break down the barriers. We need to provide opportunities for dialogue and debates between different realities, we must involve the whole of society by showing practical examples of integration, we must spread a clear and unequivocal message: Peace depends on each of us".
"Because change is also linked to our daily choices and our commitment. We must have the courage to act and not be afraid of being the first in our circle who make the difference".
Carlos, what can you tell us about the next Youth World Peace Forum?
"On September 25, we greeted each other with many tears of emotion and embraces full of mutual gratitude, because of the unforgettable experience that we have experienced together and that has launched us into a new stage in each one's life. But before leaving, we announced the 4th Youth World Peace Forum, to be held in Metro Manila, in the Philippines, on the occasion of the World Youth Meeting of the Focolare Movement, the Genfest, scheduled for July 6-8, 2018. The title will be, Beyond all Borders".