Peace Partners has been supporting screenings of the Peace Education Programme (PEP) documentary ‘Inside Peace’, both through our own forum in central London and more recently through a series of university presentations. We are pleased to include a report by Alan Plummer on a screening that took place on the 7th February in Falmouth, Cornwall .
On a wet and stormy night in February more than 80 people from all over Cornwall came to the Poly Arts Centre in Falmouth to watch a screening of the multi-award winning film Inside Peace. The film very movingly documents the transformation taking place in the lives of some of the inmates in a Texas Prison as they experience The Peace Education Program (PEP) and begin to make positive choices in their lives
Following the screening there was an opportunity during the break for people to pop into an exhibition showing how a PEP works, to ask questions and to register an interest in attending a PEP, or in having one facilitated for their organisation. A healthy interest was also taken in the well-stocked cake stall, which did a roaring trade!
Two volunteers, Liz Norris and Andrew Spiers, who have been running PEPs in a prison setting, and Pauline Cook, representing Peace Partners, very kindly drove down from Somerset and Devon to form a panel of speakers for the Question and Answer session which followed the break. This was a really lively session and, as well as focusing on PEP in a prison setting, there were questions raised about the possibilities for PEP being supported in other settings, such as with young people. In fact so animated was the discussion that it had to be drawn to a close to prevent us all being locked in the Poly for the night!
A number of individuals, and at least one organisation working with troubled younger people, expressed their interest in having a PEP facilitated. This interest will be followed up by the local Peace Education Cornwall team with a view to making it happen in the very near future.
As well as being an enjoyable 'movie' experience in itself, the evening was a perfect introduction to the Peace Education Programme for people who have never come across it before. On a personal note I would recommend anybody to watch this film: Inside Peace. I was moved and so impressed by the intelligence and the insight shown by the inmates profiled, and by the warm human responses evoked in such an uncompromising situation.
Watch some responses to the screening:
On Sunday 3rd. February, at the Friends Meeting House in Reigate, a presentation about the work of Peace Partners was successfully hosted by local supporters of The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF)
Thirty people, including several Peace Partners volunteers, attended the two and a half hour event, which featured a number of short video films about TPRF initiatives Food for People and The Peace Education Programme, both of which Peace Partners are supporting.
The fundraising segment included an interesting short talk by financial adviser David Windsor about the potential of gift aided donations, and there was an opportunity to donate on the day towards the TPRF initiatives. There were some truly generous donors, in total an amazing £1171 was raised (and this excludes several regular monthly pledge amounts). Many people mentioned afterwards how much they had enjoyed the event.
We would like to say thank you to all the team involved in organising the event, and to everyone who attended what was a wonderful afternoon, which concluded with an extra round of applause for our MC and presenter Barbara André and her very informative, thoughtful and heartfelt approach!
Members of the Peace Partners team attended the Westminster Insight Tackling Gangs and Youth Crime Conference in central London on the 23rd January. This a a report by one of the attendees, Barbara André.
What a day! I hadn’t thought a lot about this conference, and hadn’t even looked at the website beforehand to find out more as I knew that I wouldn’t know any of the speakers anyway.
I expected this to be a very long and possibly tiring day, and I was surprised how fast the time went by because the contributions were very interesting. The speakers were from different backgrounds and also viewpoints on the subject, as they are working for completely different organisations or public services, but one can say that all of them were incredibly passionate about it. They were personally engaged, and some even had personal experiences in this field and had been involved in gangs themselves at some point in time during their lives. We heard touching stories of how they were able to eventually turn their lives completely around.
Some of the contributions were rather shocking, opening our eyes to the extent of this situation and the ever more growing areas in the UK where gangs are becoming a problem. It is far from being solely a London issue any more; on the contrary the existing gangs are currently now targeting specific rural areas. Their tactics are nothing short of shocking. Something else which was frightening: the way the gang members exhibit their violence is becoming more and more brutal.
It was also interesting to hear that this is no longer mainly a problem concerning boys or young male adults, but many girls and woman are being ‘sucked into’ gang activities, and are consequently suffering in multiple ways. The age range of gang members seems to be shifting more and more to ever younger kids. Another myth which was exploded was that it is only kids born into a poor family who are prone to get involved with gangs, nowadays it is often middle-class children. Many of the speakers pointed out what a huge role social media is playing in helping gangs to expand in size at an alarming rate. It was made clear that it seems incredibly difficult, or even impossible, for a gang member to leave the gang for good, especially as social media is ever present.
I personally was particularly interested in the reasons why a young person would want to join a gang. One reason which was mentioned by everyone was when a boy or girl gets banned from school; another big reason is too little attention given by the parents; the geographical area where the kids get brought up; poverty; and the well thought out tactics of the gang leaders to entice a young person to get on board, be it by offering drugs for free, making promises that they will become rich and earn lots of money, or blackmailing them in some other way.
It was certainly a very insightful day. The only thing I missed was a discussion on how this malady could be stopped, or at least limited.
Nick Crabb, a Peace Partners volunteer living in Japan, recently interviewed Max Whittle, an integral member of the Kifubon project since its inception. We are very pleased to present Nick’s interview in full. Following the interview is some information about Kifubon in the UK.
To help create a culture of empathy and compassion, the Kifubon Project has now donated over 15,000 books to a variety of settings in Japan and the rest of the world. I spoke to Max Whittle about the Kifubon Project, how it is run and the challenges it has faced.
Hi Max, what does "kifubon" mean? And what does it mean to you?
Well, "kifubon" can be translated into the sharing of books in a society, and I suppose the theme of the Kifubon Project is the sharing of knowledge that's of value to humanity as a whole. Bunya publishing, who run the project, have the motto of "books for 100 years". The project therefore focuses on books with long-lasting messages of peace that people will still want to read even as times and technologies change. The project takes books that have value and creates a system for sharing them. People who enjoy one of the project's books can pay for one or several books to be donated to schools, hospitals, prisons etc., and help spread the book's message of peace. One book can stay where it's donated for decades and have a huge reach. For example, over 15,000 books have been donated in total, with about 30 to 40 people reading them, so hundreds of thousands of people have benefited from these books.
Could you tell us about the author of these books?
Prem Rawat, who is a peace activist that has addressed international audiences of over 15 million people and who's talks have been translated into over 75 languages. Prem's message has touched me personally and had a positive effect on my life. He has been travelling for more than 50 years, and I have travelled with him and seen how busy his schedule is. It has been Prem's quest to educate people about peace and how it's a daily choice we each have to make so we can all live in a kinder world. The Kifubon Project is another avenue for Prem to spread his message.
What are these books about?
Splitting the Arrow, which is titled "Peace is Possible" in the UK, was the first book Bunya publishing produced with Prem. This book contains short quotes and stories, and teachings from Prem's addresses through the years. The opening short story is called the Pot with the Hole, which was so popular it became a standalone book and animation.Of course everyone has their own interpretation, but for me, the core message of these books is that peace is not about countries coming together and signing a treaty etc. Instead, peace is something that manifests within a person. When this happens, the person needs an understanding and awareness that they are experiencing a feeling of well-being, of harmony and of things being right. However, this only sets them up, and they still have to choose to be more kind to others. Making this choice allows them to share their peace, not by them preaching, but by their mood and their positive effect on other people. If you scale this up, then hopefully you achieve more harmonious schools, workplaces, societies, countries and even planet. You cannot start from the planet and scale down with treaties. In the times we are living in, achieving peace of any kind can seem impossible, so we need to concentrate on ourselves and what we can do to bring ourselves to a peaceful and harmonious state. This is not an easy task, but it's not an impossible one.
How can people donate money to the Kifubon Project? How does the process work in Japan?
Originally, Bunya publishing received donations mainly from within Japan, but also from outside, via the Kifubon homepage. There are now other Kifubon projects that have taken up the mantle in different countries.
In Japan, books are donated to hospitals, prisons and orphanages, as well as nurseries, schools, high schools and universities. In particular, boards of education have ordered large numbers of books, as they consider the messages of empathy, compassion and mutual understanding to be part of their curriculum. Further, bullying is a huge problem in Japan, with bullies and those bullied lacking a level of comfort and respect for themselves. We have sent books to schools across Japan, and in many cases received messages of thanks from them.
Sending books to so many places sounds like a massive undertaking. How is the project structured and run?
The set-up is simple with Bunya publishing running a website for the two books, Splitting the Arrow and the Pot with the Hole. People can then donate the books to institutions, as well as suggest new institutions or avenues for the project. Bunya have a warehouse for storage and an internal communication network to send books where they are needed. Bunya publishing also have a PR representative when sending the books to new places or institutions.
What kind of challenges has the Kifubon Project faced?
At the beginning of the project, there was a lot of red tape. Of course you cannot just send books into an education system or prison. You need permission, at the very least from the people running the institution and sometimes from the government itself. In Japan, our PR representative visited the board of education and those running prisons in the government to get approval. We've since used this process for all the institutions that we send books to. Once in place, the process is relatively simple.
Another challenge is that Bunya publishing has to package and send thousands of books, while also making a profit and ends meet. However, we receive letters thanking us for the books. We received one such letter from a person in prison, who could not see a way out and had lost hope and the will to live. They saw a blue book in the library and took it from the shelf. As they read the book, they became filled with hope. They then signed up for an Inner Peace class, where, by coincidence, they saw a video of Prem Rawat giving teachings on peace. For the first time in a long time, they breathed some hope. Letters like these are our reward for the whole system working, and make everything worthwhile.
That's a very moving story, and I'm glad that some of the peace comes back to you and the great work you do. Thank you very much for your time Max.
In the UK the Kifubon project is called Bedrock Books. So far nearly a thousand books have been donated to prisons, family refuges and children's hospitals in the UK. The new title 'Peace is Possible' (an English language version of Splitting the Arrow) will be published in the UK in the summer of 2019. Prior to publication and once published, there will be several ways to support the UK Kifubon project. To find out more write to email@example.com.
If you would like to donate one or more copies of this forthcoming book via the Kifubon project, you can do so now as Bedrock Books will be pre-ordering copies of the new title. Please go to the funding page for Bedrock Books.
Find out more about UK Kifubon projects here.
Date : Sunday 3rd February
Time: 4.30pm to 7.00pm
Venue: Friends Meeting House,
47 Reigate Road, Reigate, RH2 0QT
We are delighted to host a presentation by Peace Partners in support of The Prem Rawat Foundation's global humanitarian efforts.
The presentation will provide an insight into the various activities being carried out in accordance with a vision of providing for basic human needs, and how these efforts can be supported.
In particular, the presentation will highlight the efforts being made by Peace Partners in association with the US based charitable organisation The Prem Rawat Foundation, with whom these aims are shared.
All are welcome to attend. There will be a number of short videos and the afternoon will be both enjoyable and inspirational. The event will consist of two one hour sessions, with a 30 minute refreshment break in between.
No registration fee will be required for this event, although any voluntary donations will be much appreciated. We look forward to seeing you in Reigate! Find out more here.
Directions: The Meeting House is on the A25, between Reigate and Redhill, on the right going towards Redhill. Located adjacent Reigate Grammar School. Stations: Reigate, 3/4 mile; Redhill, 1 1/4 miles.
Members of Peace Partners attended an exciting collaborative music project at Croydon Boxpark on Sunday 2nd December, featuring Croydon artists from different backgrounds combining to perform inspiring compositions.
UK Apache, well known for his 1994 hit ‘Original Nuttah’, closed the Croydon Composers 2018 show with 'Get Up' performed with Badmarsh and Shri. He had a message of peace for the crowd: “I don’t like the violence that’s going on,” he said, referencing the increasing trend of violent crime in London.
Mayor of Croydon Bernadette Khan also attended the event and gave a brief message.She said: “The issue of knife crime and lives being lost is awful,” adding, “lives must not go so terribly and so awfully.”
Peace Partners Introduction – Oxford, 9th December 2018
by Robin Watkins and Didge Hatcher
The train seemed to speed through the heart of England as it followed the route of the Thames river upstream, to Oxford, the city of the dreaming spires. After days of rain, today was lighter and clearer, and I was attending a small event in the afternoon which had been organised locally to promote support for the work of The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF).
Oxford on an early Sunday in December is a busy place, full of tourists and Christmas market shoppers and students. Approaching the small meeting house venue I passed by an Oxfam shop, the internationally known charity started here and took its name from the town, and then the Eagle and Child pub, once frequented by illustrious authors JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.
In the midst of England's oldest scholastic centre I remembered that in 2005 TPRF founder Prem Rawat had been invited here to speak at the university. Just a few years before he had started the Foundation that bears his name.
The event was an intimate and informal introduction to the work of Peace Partners to seventeen local Oxford attendees. It was very ably managed by Emma Thomas who commented, ‘this is a really lovely opportunity for the people of Oxford to find out more about what Peace Partners actually does.’
Pauline Cook, Finance Manager and Trustee, talked us through several evocative videos revealing the purposes of the Peace Education Programme and The Food for People centres which have been initiated and are being maintained in several countries by TPRF.
There was also an opportunity for people to volunteer for a role with the charity. Didge Hatcher, a newly recruited Trustee, spoke briefly about her excitement at her role and her recognition of the potential for growth in Peace Partners.
Much tea and cake was enjoyed in the break, with opportunities for old friends to catch up. Two visitors from the Midlands Hindi community were hoping to arrange their own introductions to Peace Partners in their area. At the end Outreach Manager David Windsor sat with them to discuss possible arrangements for those events.
Everyone was delighted by the opportunity to wish Prem Rawat a happy birthday. Robin Watkins, who edits the eBulletin, invited us all to be filmed saying ‘Happy birthday Prem’, which of course we did with great enthusiasm!
A Peace Education Programme (PEP) is being hosted by Peace Talks Manchester at lunchtime every Friday 1 - 2pm until 24th May (excluding Good Friday) in central Manchester.
The course will be held at:
the Nexus Art Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester M1 1JW
(opposite Vinyl Exchange)
Friday 1pm - 2pm:
14th, 21st December
4th, 11th, 18th, 25th January
1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd February
1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th March
5th, 12th, 26th April
3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th May
entry is free
The purpose of PEP is to help participants discover their own inner resources - tools for living such as inner strength, choice and hope - and the possibility of personal peace.
The course, which is non-religious and non-sectarian, is based on the talks of Prem Rawat, an international speaker on the subject of personal peace. It is facilitated by volunteers and consists of weekly videos, each focusing on a particular theme.
Download and print the PEP flyer (with full details) here:
If you know of someone in the Manchester region who might benefit from this peace course, please let them know about it. If you require more information then email the Peace Talks Manchester contact Alan Wickham at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is not necessary to attend every session.
If you are a part of a group or team which are already working in this area in the region and would like to learn more about the benefits of PEP please email Alan.
Alan told Peace Partners that in part the motivation behind the Manchester PEP was "an awareness that whilst last year was the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, and there was a lot of publicity about it in the media, there is a real need to find more solutions to the personal issues facing someone affected by any severe conflict, and that peace education is a tool that can really help."
The Peace Education Programme is a Prem Rawat Foundation initiative and is being increasingly used in a variety of contexts. Find out more here.
As this tumultuous year draws to a close it feels more of a privilege than ever to be part of a growing movement that is helping to shine a light in the darkness, and helping to bring dignity, peace and prosperity to people in all corners of the world.
Read more here
One of the team from Peace Partners recently visited the Peace Wall, a mural along a highly visited section of Ebor Street in London, created by acclaimed UK street artist Ben Eine, with the words by Prem Rawat. It was a great reminder about this brightly coloured mural and the message it conveys, from June 2018.
Ben partnered with The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) to make the powerful statement that 'Peace is Possible' in response to rising knife crime in London. The message brings hope to communities and inspires people to work towards a practical solution.
The London Evening Standard featured the mural, and Ben stated: “The poignant words in Ebor Street, Shoreditch, are a reminder to both Londoners and visitors of the need to peacefully coexist in the capital."
Prem Rawat says: “We need to address the fundamental causes of violence to stop these terrible tragedies happening again. The voice of boredom for young people has become overwhelming. We need to re-engage them in society."
You can read the full article in the London Evening Standard here.
Read more on The Prem Rawat Foundation website here.