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Peace Is Possible 16 January 2013

Allegany County and surrounding area residents have sent contributions of homemade dolls, children’s toys, story books and financial support twice a year to Aceh and North Sumatra for post-tsunami relief and reconstruction. Nadine Hoover, Alfred resident and Coordinator of Friends Peace Teams in Indonesia, has over 30 years of experience in Indonesia.

Peace Place in Pati, Central Java is an 11 meters x 11 meters traditional Javanese home that was moved to this location to house a preschool, after-school lessons and adult workshops for family members and teachers.

Small groups of western New Yorkers travel twice a year to Indonesia. After five years, 2005-2009, Nadine decided to cut back. It was like pruning; the growth since then has been astonishing! People who get to know the work invariably comment, “You do all that with so little? It’s hard to believe!”

East Aceh and North Sumatra lie on the equator. Blasting heat become the hardest part of the trip. Incessantly over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night, westerners lay spread eagle on concrete floors to soak up the coolness and take frequent cold baths. Indonesians fear they will all “catch the wind” (rather than “catch a cold”).

Nick Rozard, ceramic engineer from Alfred, New York, working with (left to right) Tony, Adi, Rina, Wahyu and Ari to set up a ceramics research lab in Yogyakarta to study and develop silver-treated, ceramic water filters.

John Michaelis of England and Coordinator of Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific wrote, “Now that I have seen a portion of the work here and met the people face to face, I realise that I had no concept of the scale of the Friends Peace Teams initiative here in Indonesia. Nadine is a well-loved, respected and significant public figure in this part of the world with an extensive network of supporters… Their influence ranges from grassroots to the leadership of the community and in some cases the national government, with particular involvement in schools, preschools and parenting.”

The work builds on people-to-people relationships across sides of former violent conflicts, with people who cooperatively agree to practice basic principles in daily life:
•    Value and enjoy life enthusiastically
•    Respect and affirm self and others
•    Listen, don’t interrupt
•    No put downs of self or others, even in joking
•    Speak simply & fully without fear of mistakes
•    Be teachable, change one’s self
•    Ask for and give feedback and help
•    Physically discharge pain and distress
•    Express emotion directly to someone in words
•    Enjoy differences among people
•    Use what you need and share the rest
•    Speak from one’s own experiences, not others’
•    Volunteer one’s self only
•    Exercise the right to pass & to consolation
•    Take care of one’s self and the group
•    Work to develop every person, community and society
Some of the worst violence in history has been perpetrated in families or among neighbors; being friends is not enough. We must be clear about our principles and share them with one another. Whether Christian, Muslim or other faith, whether Javanese, Acehnese or American or other ethnicity, participants agree that that we’re all called to common principles, as people of faith and conscience living on this Earth together.

Everyone says that this is what they are taught by their faith and ethnic group, but they seldom practice actually doing it. So many participants have posted these in their homes, schools and offices and in their family members’ homes. They consider them one of the first tools we share.

Nick Rozard beside all that is left of the old timber forest removed from the area of Barak Induk by the 1970s and replaced now primarily with brush, rubber or oil palm.

This year we opened a training site in Central Java called Peace Place, offering preschool for young children in the mornings, after-school programs for school-aged children and weekend workshops for parents, teachers and community members. We conduct regular workshops in nonviolence, trauma healing, developmental play, listening to conscience and discernment.

Nicholas Rozard returned to Alfred from a year service in Yogyakarta working with a team on developing silver-treated ceramic water filters. He is continuing the research and development with Dr. William Carty of Alfred University, while SHEEP (Society for Health, Education, Environment and Peace) in Yogyakarta continue to conduct necessary research protocols in the ceramics and microbiology labs we established.

Once again the Governing Board of Mount Leuser National Forest claimed that the refugees in North Sumatra are living in the UN protected forest, even though the High Provincial Court of North Sumatra has ruled twice that they are not in the forest territory. At the request of the refugees, we submitted a request to the UN Office in Geneva concerned with internally displaced peoples and to the World Heritage Committee in Paris concerned with protected lands requesting that they come, see for themselves and settle this dispute.

As Nadine began to wind down her post-tsunami service, increasing numbers of people asked for this ministry of nonviolence, healing and reconciliation to continue. Therefore, rather than close Friends Peace Teams to Indonesia, the work expanded to Friends Peace Teams in Asia West Pacific! People from Australia, New Zealand and Nepal have requested that the training be brought to communities there and have expressed interest in traveling. Friends Peace Teams members have gone to the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia to help with trainings there and hope to invite them to Peace Place, Central Java for more training. We hope to respond to people in Korea and Japan who have requested visits, but this would require more resources.

Participants of the Trauma Healing Workshop offered by Nadine Hoover in Perth, Australia in January 2012.

We achieve amazing things when we connect people with people who are open to what rings true. As the refugees have found out, speaking the truth may be a long, hard road, but there is strength in the truth. With enough patience and persistence, a powerful stand can be made. You too may consider joining us:

Write to Nadine Hoover at Indonesia@FriendsPeaceTeams.org to get on the e-news list, offer to help out with simple tasks, or join a peace team trip (typically three weeks or more).
Read the stories and sharing the news about how peace is possible when we meet face to face, give one another direct attention and share basic principles.
Provide simple supports by:
Convening, recording, translating and meeting on a conference call once a month.
Writing, editing and publishing on the web, in newsletters and over an e-list.
Managing an e-list by adding and deleting names and following up on bounces.
Request and host a speaker or a workshop on nonviolence, trauma healing, developmental play, conscience or discernment.
Travel with Nadine to conduct workshops or speaking tours and get to know others investing in peace.
Send funds to Friends Peace Teams, 1001 Park Ave., St. Louis, MO 63104 with Asia West Pacific in the memo line.
Thank you to everyone who has participated in the past seven years and is willing to participate still to make this ministry a blessing for so many people throughout the world!