Peacemaker Fridays: May 27, 2016

Japanese-Americans interned during WWII come together with Muslim children to address hate with hope; Syrian woman shine in the midst of war; African women fight child marriage with creativity; and a powerful stage show challenges prejudice against Muslim women.

Here are the week’s best stories of people reaching across enemy lines, loving the other, and waging peace…

Addressing hate with hope: Muslim children share the screen with Japanese-Americans interned during WWII 
Frank Chi’s powerful short film features Muslim children reading letters written Japanese Americans who grew up in internment camps during WWII. Chi writes, “I’ve always believed in responding to hate with love. In a time when hate appears so influential in our politics, we need as many acts of love as possible.” He continues: “What is happening to Muslim Americans… reminds me of the hate directed at Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor—a dark period that we should hope never to repeat… We teach our children to believe in this country’s promise and their role in it. But when hate overtakes our debates, it’s children who suffer the most.” Read more… 


Unshakable women: the glimmer of hope in Syria’s hellish war
It is almost impossible to find any silver lining in Syria’s war. But a growing number of women are embracing the role of change-maker in what may provide the sliver of hope their war-ravaged country needs. These women are at the forefront of new efforts to solve local problems and counter the seemingly endless cycle of violence. Syrian women of ingenuity, creativity, and determination have started a host of amazing endeavors to bring peace and stability to their people in the midst of hell, including:

  • Four independent, women-run news radio stations that challenge the notion that Syrian women’s interests are limited to “fashion, beauty, cooking, family and children.”

  • Community centers like Women Now for Development, which offers job training for widows and young women who had to suspend their formal education.

  • Initiatives like Network of Guardians, which offers support and education on how to parent during a war. They equip parents to help their children process trauma and develop curriculum on the effects war has on children.
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Read more… 

Creativity, ingenuity, love: Young women fight child marriage in Africa
From our friend Branden Harvey this week, an inspiring article on six young women in Africa fighting to end child marriage in the most ingenious and inspiring ways—music, street art, movies, and even texting lawmakers. From Senegal, Malawi, Cameroon, Kenya, and Ethiopia, these young women have become a powerful voice for the voiceless in a society where few want to listen. Read more… 

The Hijabi Monologues remind us that Muslim women are more than what they wear
In recent years, the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women, has become a topic of constant public discourse. Consequently, the hijab has become a common way to make snap judgements, positive or negative, about the hijabi—a women who wears a hijab. Bangladeshi-American Sahar Ullah got tired of being reduced to the cloth covering her head. Instead of lashing out, she created a stage show called The Hijabi Monologues—a series of monologues based on the personal experiences of Ullah and her friends.  “We’ve taken [the hijab] and we push it out of your faces by giving the entire woman a voice.” Over the past decade, her show has reached thousands. The monologues—which are genuine, touching, and humorous—touch on broad themes like racial justice. But their real appeal is that they address “ordinary” issues like relationships and self-esteem. “There are always people, lots of people, who say they’re shocked at how ‘normal’ the issues are,” says Ullah. Now in its tenth year, Ullah’s message still connects. In the words of one of her monologues, “Do you know what it’s like to represent a billion human beings every day you walk out of your house? Everyone is watching…and I’m not a bad example. I’m not a good example…I’m a human being.” Read more… 


Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear how you and your community are waging peace right where you are. And stay tuned for more hope-filled peacemaker stories next Friday!