Sahba, a human rights advocate and community engagement specialist of Iranian background, took part in a Creators of Peace Circle online in 2020. The Circle took place as the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions in Sydney were being felt. Through her Creators of Peace experience, she realized that her 15-year career in working for peace and justice had come about at the cost of her inner peace.
This is Sahba’s story.
‘The Creators of Peace Circle during the COVID-19 lockdown was a transformative experience for me. I had spent the last 15 years of my life working on external peace in the world, on the topics of elimination of racism and gender equality. I had gone into these areas because of trauma I had personally experienced related to these issues. This trauma was a part of my story, and was causing me a lot of pain – literally. At the peak of the #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements that were taking place in the US, I developed a chronic pain condition.
‘The Creators of Peace Circle made me realise a few things.
‘The biggest realisation was that I needed to work on, and prioritize, my inner peace. Without this, I would stay sick, and I would not really be able to have an impact in bringing about a greater peace for the world.
‘After this realisation, a few more changes came.
‘As a woman of colour who is passionate about social justice, I realised I would not thrive working in a large bureaucratic organisation. I resigned and found a job that was more aligned to my staying healthy, feeling valued and respected, and having a direct impact on priority populations. I needed to let go of my ego and professional expectations, and be okay with earning less money! I also went down to working four days a week, so as to focus on my health.
‘In the Creators of Peace Circle where we share our stories, mine was one of pain, guilt, trauma and fear. After sharing it, and having it received in the most loving and supportive way imaginable by my Peace Circle “sisters,” I decided that my story needed to change. I refused to give anymore attention to the pain and injustice I had faced, and decided to turn my experiences into creating a new story of empowerment and resilience. I started to share this story with many women in my life, including my mother. This, I feel, helped her to see her own story differently—a story that was also heavily stuck in guilt and shame.
‘I decided that my most impactful path of service was not to have a high status and high-paying job but rather to run Women’s Circles, through a program called “The Heroine’s Journey.” This was my “peace in practice”— a concept nurtured in the Creators of Peace Circle. These Women’s Circles, based on the empowerment of women, were the most effective way that I could contribute, not only to peace in the world, but also to simultaneously heal and nurture my own inner peace. I didn’t need to be just focusing on my inner peace or only on external peace in the world; I could do both at the same time.
‘The Creators of Peace Circle that I first took part in was so loving. From a group of strangers meeting online, the participants of that first Circle have become some of my dearest friends, supporters and sources of inspiration. With them, I am able to share and open my heart, and be met with such compassion.’
Sahba’s first Creators of Peace Circle formed a close-knit group of friends who continued to stay in touch through other activities within the Initiatives of Change network. The women took part in five-conversation series, Advocating for a New Story of Our Shared Humanity, and a workshop to build skills for ‘Engaging Constructively in Challenging Conversations.’ Learn more about Creators of Peace.
Celebrating new friendships with food at the close of a Creators of Peace Circle/Shoshana Faire