Coffee With Peacemakers, a network of young peacebuilders
Can peace be built over a cup of coffee? Coffee With Peacemakers is an international effort by teenagers that offers an informal setting for young people to be actively involved in building peace (#peacebuilders).
“It all began very spontaneously with a phone call among friends,” says Laxman who is one of the founders of the Coffee With Peacemakers network. Now the project involves many young people from around the world who would like to share their stories of peacebuilding, through different channels such as Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube. Their theme is peacebuilding in everyday life. Their goal is to create a newtwork of peacebuilders who can have a positive impact on many of their peers.
How and why was the project begun?
The idea was born during the first COVID lockdowns. Laxman explains: “We felt lonely and isolated, everybody inside their own houses. One day I had scheduled a telephone call with Azeez, a friend from Iraq whom I met at an internationsl event organized by the Focolare Movement. On that same day I received a phone call from a friend in Uganda. I didn’t want to refuse either call, so I suggested that we all get together on one call, and we began a casual conversation about ourselves, our daily challenges and how we were trying to have a positive effect on others. Then it seemed like a good idea to create similar opportunities for other kids. We decided that peace would be the main theme of our conversations.” Azeez recounts: “I’ve known a lot of people during my life who have beautiful stories to tell, and I’ve had in mind for a long time time to find a way of getting them together to tell them. I had no idea that in the end it would turn out like this. It all happened spontaneously, thanks to a conversation with Laxman. . .”
How is Coffee with Peacemakers doing now?
“The teenagers don’t want to follow a script. They simply want to be channels of positive and authentic dialogue and relationships. This spontaneity and authenticity of our sharing are values that they absolutely don’t want to lose. For the moment, Peacemakers has decided to take advantage of live sessions on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube to create conversations over a good cup of coffee where everyone is free to share their story and help to create this space for sincere dialogue. At first the conversation was mainly in English, but for some time now many people have begun to follow us from Arab-speaking countries and a lot of the content is presented in that language. One of them recently clarified that “Our goal remains the same: to share the positive, so that those who listen can take a cue from our experiences and try to bring some positivity with their own lives.”
What are the main difficulties?
“The main difficulty is the time zones,” says Ivee from Melbourne, Australia. The team that works on coming up with content includes 6 teenagers from Nepal, Iraq, Colombia, Egypt, Australia and India – each with different lifestyles and schedules. Ivee adds: “But it’s very nice to see the effor that everyone makes to be present at our meetings. Each us makes sacrifices, not because of money – we don’t get paid for what we do – but because we believe in the beauty and usefulness that this project contains for us and for those who listen to our stories.”
What is the secret to keeping it going?
“Having patience and carrying on in spite of the difficulties,” says Laxman. Azeez adds: “Even though it is discouraging to see the low level of the content that sometimes receives more attention than ours, we trust that our content can make the difference for someone who see it. And if our efforts help even one person to change something in their life for the better, well, then, we’re happy.”
Are there any new ideas on the horizon ?
The teenagers say yes: to engage the younger generations. There isn’t anything definite yet, but the idea would be to share stories of peace that regard children. Azeez explains: “Laxman and I had difficult childhoods. Our dream is that it would not be the same for the next generations. So it’s very important for us to do our part in helping the younger generations to be more sensitive to peace and peace education. Perhaps, thanks also to our small countribution, the children of tomorrow will be able to grow up in a better world than the one we lived in.”
Never stop dreaming, and keep building your dream ever day. This is the goal of the Peacemakers who are trying to bring peace also through their conversations over a cup of coffee.