Saturday, August 18, 2007
A small group meets during the occasion

A small group meets during the occasion

Fifty women from many backgrounds gathered in Belmore Community Centre on Sunday 12th August for the annual get-together of Peace Circles from around suburban Sydney.

The community centre in Belmore – a multi-cultural suburb in the heart of Sydney – was buzzing with women on Sunday, 12th August 2007. Fifty women from many different backgrounds arrived waving plates of tasty snacks to share from an improvised buffet. This was the second such event in the centre, which was offered free of charge by the local authorities.

The important ‘welcome to country’ introductory speech was given by an Eora woman, Aboriginal park ranger Lisa Madden, who was joined by her mother, two young daughters and nephew. After lunch the women were divided into discussion groups by MC Zahra Hijazi, according to their months of birth. Each group was asked to think about a different theme: Inner Peace, Peace in the family, Peace in the community, and Peace in the world. All the thoughts were collected and written up. An amazing amount of wisdom was forthcoming, and quite a bit of humour!

Diana Damsa, lawyer and musician from Romania and Long Seng To, Australian-Chinese PhD student were guest speakers. Both Diana and Long Seng shared their recent experiences on Action for Life 3, a nine month international leadership and outreach program of Initiatives of Change. (see www.afl.iofc.org). They moved the audience with the depth of their experience and honesty.

Diana described her experience of life growing up under Communism and the anger and violence the system created in the hearts of Romanians. 'For the first time Action for Life gave me the chance to talk about the hurts of the past and to understand what I had been through and what the consequences were. Since then I was able, not to forget, but to forgive and to feel peace in my heart'. Expressing her personal conviction and hopes for the future she said: 'I consider corruption a form of abuse and aggression in society. Opposing corruption is one way in which I can contribute to bringing about peace.... Peace Circles is one of the wonderful things I want to take home with me from Australia. There is a great need for women in Romania to have a space where they can share their stories, to listen to and learn from each other, to grow in confidence and believe in themselves and in their capacity to be agents of peace in society.'

Long Seng, who participated in the first Sydney Peace Circle, which launched her into the AFL program, warned: 'Be careful, you don’t know where the peace circles will take you!'

Trish McDonald-Harrison spoke about the vision for an international Creators of Peace women’s conference in Australia in 2009, and afterwards a group of women who wished to assist with this put their names on a list. Salam Deeb encouraged everyone who had not already experienced a Creators of Peace Circle to sign up.

Chichi Seii from Kenya and Australia encouraged everyone to donate some money for Creators of Peace and we were all amazed at the outcome! She and her colleague Thandie from Tanzania ended with a wonderful Swahili song which made everyone sway and clap and offer, as the words expressed, gratitude to God who accepts our small efforts and uses them.

Lisa Madden gives a 'Welcome to Country' at the beginning

Lisa Madden gives a 'Welcome to Country' at the beginning

Diana Damsa sings in her Romanian costume

Diana Damsa sings in her Romanian costume

Long Seng To

Long Seng To

A Hyun from Korea and Zahra

Romanian, Korean and Australian women get to know each other

Diana Damsa sings to the group

Diana Damsa sings to the group

A Hyun from Korea and Zahra

A Hyun from Korea and Zahra

Co-chair Zahra Hijazi

Co-chair Zahra Hijazi

Co-chair Zahra Hijazi

Co-chair Jane Mills

Display of different Sydney suburbs where Peace Circles have taken place

Display of different Sydney suburbs where Peace Circles have taken place

A small group meets during the occasion

A small group meets during the occasion

Salam Deeb from the Australian/Lebanese community

Salam Deeb from the Australian/Lebanese community

Reporting back from discussion on

Reporting back from discussion on "Peace in the Family'

Discussing over lunch

Discussing over lunch

Ending with a Swahili song

Ending with a Swahili song