Janine Farah is a Masters student of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney. A Creators of Peace ‘taster’ experience on campus introduced her to Creators of Peace Circles that enable participants to take practical steps for peace. Intrigued, she signed up to take part in a Circle. It was the start of her ongoing ‘peace journey’ at home and in the wider world.
Peace at a personal level
Janine had always looked at ‘peace’ from an academic perspective, at the level of nations, governments and external structures. Taking part in a Creators of Peace Circle opened her mind to peace as an internal process.
‘I came to the realisation that peace can mean many things. Inner peace and peace at the personal family level is one aspect that drew my attention immediately,’ said Janine, ‘it made me self-reflect on my own heart and mind, and think of peace from a personal family perspective.’
As a migrant to Australia who had fled the civil war in Lebanon, she was aware of the bitterness and trauma that many in her family carried with them. Her grandmother, for one, had always expressed a negative attitude towards of people of Syrian background. The Creators of Peace Circle gave Janine the impetus to put theory into action and seek to mend hearts: ‘it spurred me to take action.’
With an open mind, Janine put her grandmother in touch with a Syrian student she was teaching. A relationship blossomed and both experienced a change of heart.
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 led to Creators of Peace Circles being held online. Through one such Circle, Janine came to know Gena Sturgon , a fellow-participant from Kosovo. Gena runs an NGO in Kosovo, Play2EDUCATE, which has a focus on youth development.
Continuing their friendship beyond the initial Creators of Peace Circle, Janine and Gena facilitated an adapted version of the Circle with a high-school audience in Kosovo in October 2020. This further led to an online Circle that brought together women from Kosovo and Lebanon.
‘The diversity of culture and location meant that they did not agree on everything but that was fine,’ said Janine. The experience has motivated her to continue to host further Creators of Peace Circles with diverse groups of women, and help them experience the transformation that she has seen in her own life.
Practical action for the future
Janine continues to be a part of a global network of Creators of Peace facilitators network, as well as continuing her involvement with Creators of Peace work in New South Wales. In 2020, she was invited to speak at the Initiatives of Change Caux conference, which took place virtually, due to the pandemic. She was able to share with the global audience the life changes she has experienced, and has helped bring to others through practical steps.
‘Creators of Peace Circles have had a transformational, lasting impact,’ she said.
- Parveen Muhammed