Learning Fraternity. Peace is the result of people
The two days were very dense and occurred at a very dramatic moment when a blare of voices was raised to heaven in prayer for peace and brotherhood. In a letter to Pope Francis the 650 educators from around the world wrote: “As Christians and citizens we feel it is our obligation and task to begin rebuilding relationships on love and justice through personal witness and with educational action that is aimed at building and spreading the culture of encounter and dialogue as the only pathway to peace.”
They came from 35 countries with 20 national and local stands, plus 35 workshops (from social media to sustainable development), which provided rich insight to how the principle of fraternity is being integrated into every dimension of the most diverse educational experiences. The projects ranged from preventing violence at early ages to school projects in the poorest outskirts of Santo Domingo, Nairobi and Recife.
One project was the Strong without violence project, which was developed through collaboration among the international Gen Rosso Band, the Starkmacher Association, Caritas of Cologne, the German Federal Ministry of Work and Society, local social institutes for youth at risk, immigrants, prisons and orphanages – in all involving more than 25,000 young people.
There were also people from the Dalwal School in Punjab, Pakistan with its 209 students only four of whom are Christian. “We strive to avoid irenism in our educational approach,” says school director Valentina Gomez, “to form consciences that are open to universal values such as the respect for religious freedom, forgiveness, sharing.”
There was a group from Egypt. Elhamy Naguib is an artist who has been giving workshops on mural painting. Her project is part of the Koz Kazah Foundation. She shared how she also used this art form on February 7th during the protests in Tahrir Square. “I went to the Square and began designing murals that depicted the great aspirations of the Egyptian people.” It was in this way that social justice was given the form of a scale of justice, and liberty the form of a bird. “Let us never give up the hope of a democratic future for our country where everyone is equal.”
The promoters of the initiative included New Humanity, the Eucation and Unity Association, Action for a United World (AMU) and the Teens for Unity Movement, as well as the educational agencies of the Focolare Movement, including families and children. Therefore, the project does not end with Learning Fraternity, but continues through educational practices at many levels, forming people who are capable of forming relationships with others in the ever-more complex age in which we live. Their commitment was written down in a 10-point manifesto, an educational pact, which was presented to Pope Francis: to educate with life; to learn together so as to teach together; to create networks of relationships; to assist each person in fulfilling his or her own path; to accept limitations, transforming them into opportunities for dialogue and growth and always beginning again.