Children are the Peacebuilders in India

Children are not often asked for their opinions on the bigissues of life, but church partners in India and the UK havedecided that children are the perfect place to start when talkingabout peace. This Easter, representatives from the Methodist andUnited Reformed Churches are visiting India to ask children whatthey think needs to be done to build a more peaceful future.

Peacebuilders Ð Children for Peace is a programme by the UnitedReformed and Methodist Churches in Great Britain, working with theChurch of North India and the Hyderabad-based Henry MartynInstitute for research, interfaith relations and reconciliation.Starting with groups of children, they aim to share knowledge andexperiences, working together towards peace on many levels fromlocal to international.

The launch of Peacebuilders on Saturday 7 April in Delhi will beattended by street children, UN organisations, NGOs, church leadersand children from local schools. It will feature songs, drama andstories from local children and a preview of the PeacebuildersDVD.

Sudipta Singh, Director of Programmes for the Church of NorthIndia, has warmly welcomed the opportunity of this uniqueco-operation, 'Children are central to our Church, peace is centralto our faith so we are delighted to be working together in this waywith our British colleagues.'

Ruby Beech, Vice-President Designate of the Methodist Conference,is among the visiting party. She says: 'Peace is everyone'sresponsibility and children have a huge role to play, in fact it'sthe children who often push us to work harder for peace. We're nottelling children what to do to create peace in their communities Ðwe are here to listen and let them teach us.'

During their stay in India, Stephen Orchard, Moderator Designate ofthe United Reformed Church, Steve Pearce, Methodist Children'sSecretary and Ruby will visit projects such as the Sultan ShahiSchool, which provides schooling for children, men and women fromlocal Muslim and Hindu communities. It aims to make communitypeace-building central to all its activities. They will also visitschools, an outreach to slum children and an inter faith communitycentre at Bankura. They will celebrate Easter day in localchurches.

Stephen says: 'In today's society, it is so clear that ourcommunities Ð and the whole world Ð need peace. Peacebuilders isabout taking small, and perhaps some larger, steps for peace. Webelieve that by working together and using our enthusiasm andexperience we can make more peace, day by day.'

Groups are encouraged to make their own 'Peace Boxes' featuring thePeacebuilders logo in which they can put ideas for making peace areality in their communities. The box will move round other groupsin the community so that people can share and add to thesuggestions, hopes and prayers. Ruby and Stephen will present twoPeace Boxes made by children in Britain to the children inHyderabad and Delhi.

Educational material to support the initiative will be availablefrom June 2007.