"Peace has to be built by everybody for everybody"
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Letter to Friends around the World # 78

In 2010, the 17 October Peace Forum was organised as part of the commemoration of the World Day to Overcoming Poverty. It was prepared in a Family Meeting.

We have been supporting deprived families for many years.  Our dialogue based on their lives is enriched by the debate with other people, and leads to construction of peace, respecting Human Rights, to which everybody can contribute.

Testimonies were given during the Family Meeting:

For me money doesn't bring happiness or peace; peace means that all of us are in good health (...)

For me peace means respecting others, something we much teach children so that they are respectful, change can only start with them. (Mrs J.)

I cannot say I'm living in peace.  There are lots of things that prevent peace. I don't have a job, I can't feed my children. That's why I can't say I'm living in peace. (Mr O.)

For me peace is a minute of dialogue, it's difficult but communication is important. (Mrs A.)

During the Forum we were listening in the groups to families expressing the sad conviction that violence was not going to disappear. At the same time, the examples given by participants, the testimonies of solidarity and mutual support in the neighbourhoods made credible a concrete way of living which enabled us to form a new conviction: peace is possible.

Mrs C. told us how on the day her house collapsed due to a landslide, several neighbours grabbed their picks, smashed rocks and dug out the earth.  Then they helped her rebuild her cabin.  She told us "I felt happy, I realised that I was not alone, contrary to what I had believed." This happiness from knowing that you are not alone, that you can count on others when your life goes off the rails, is the foundation on which we can build real security and therefore peace.  We just have to be capable of learning this from these families who are so familiar with the consequences of the rest of society forgetting, misunderstanding and ignoring them!

17 October Peace Forum,

Guatemala