An account of the screening event at the David Lean Cinema in Croydon on the 29th May. Many thanks to Maneesh Bharadia and Alan Plummer.
A very special screening of the film, Peace is Inevitable, took place in Croydon at the end of May, attended by forty six interested people from the local community.
Barbara welcomed the audience and outlined the agenda for the evening, which began with an introduction to the Ubuntu Roundtable by Kheron Kenardo, a motivational speaker who works to facilitate dialogue between the Police and young people at risk in pupil referral units, young offender units and prisons across the country.
Kheron very movingly recounted his personal experiences of struggling with dyslexia, challenges at school and the violent death of a relative in Jamaica which had a profound effect on him. Kheron's life appeared to be spiralling inevitably into gang membership and crime. However, after the violent deaths of numerous friends in his community he had an epiphany to break the cycle of violence, and became inspired by motivational videos he encountered online. His new understanding, that we all have an innate desire for peace, led to a dramatic change of direction in his life. He is now dedicated to spreading this message and he has subsequently become a championship boxer.
Kheron's personal story led seamlessly into the showing of Peace is Inevitable, which documents the work of The Prem Rawat Foundation in Ecuador. Focusing primarily on former child members of the Bloods gang, the film explores their personal experiences of gang membership and the culture of gang rivalry and violence, against a backdrop of a poverty stricken neighbourhood. The young people being filmed described the transformative effect that The Peace Education Programme has had on their lives; numerous success stories were shared and the view was expressed that this programme would be of immense benefit to other communities facing similar problems. The film also included inspirational footage of Prem Rawat during his visit to Ecuador, with excerpts from his addresses and interviews with local media.
The film was followed by a powerful message of support from members of the Bloods gang, who described the beneficial effects of the Peace Education Programme, and felt strongly that it should be made available in all educational settings worldwide.
The evening concluded with a Q & A session during which Christian, a former gang member, participated via a live Skype session with the audience. Christian strongly emphasised that young people at risk needed to be approached with respect, love, humility and kindness. He also described how as part of the transforming process local government in Ecuador had assisted in the creation of workshops in the arts and sport, and with vocational training.
Kheron then responded to questions about the Ubuntu Roundtable project, describing how the Police in Brixton repeatedly stopped him and his friends, with mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides. These negative experiences were the impetus for the Roundtable initiative to set up a regular face-to-face forum, which has been successful in building rapport between the police and local young people.