When I was doing my internship at Earth Charter International Secretariat based in Costa Rica in the year 2019, one day, Mirian Vilela, Executive Director, suddenly came out of her office and observed a toucan. The entire team went outside and observed the bird with enthusiasm. Back then, I did not care much about the beauty of nature, but living with nature-loving people on a green campus transformed my life. I started observing nature more and realised how the beauty of nature influences us, thereby becoming more peaceful humans.
It was then that I began to think about sharing this spirit of love for nature with younger generations in India as a means to spread awareness of peace through love. When I came back to India, I started working from the ground level. However, the year 2020 proved challenging when the whole world was struck by the pandemic. I was confused with countless questions. I wondered how I can reach more children at this point, whether online space is safe for children and how I can overcome the issues posed by the digital divide.
Furthermore, attending the Peace Practice Alliance programme organised by the Euphrates Institute from March 2021- August 2021 imparted a new direction to my path. It rekindled hope and confidence within me to utilize online spaces in creating connections and building communities without borders. Words of Jamila, my big sister from the Philippines, motivated me to take the first step towards this project. The mentorship has given by James Offuh, Sylvia Murray, Hollister Thomas, Katy Friedman Lunardelli, Sally Mahe, Amanda Bennett and Sarah Oliver also made this journey smooth and more successful.
With a renewed sense of optimism, I started recruiting volunteers in August. I got applications from different parts of the world. My Ecopeace Teen Cafe Team, Aleena, Khadeejah Bint Malik, Vani, Nadia, Joshua, Eduardo, Victor, Amy, Haripriya, and Daniel, have put their relentless efforts behind the success of this venture up till now. I want to thank all of you for your contributions. Moving forward, the selection process lasted about two weeks. We planned a community project that turned out to be a national project. We got participants from different parts of the country. Among the 62 applications that we received, we selected 29 students for the first cohort of the eco peace ambassador program.
On October 2, 2021, Dr Abraham Karickam, Secretary-General of United Religions Initiative, who has been guiding me since my teenage years, officially inaugurated the project. As his student, this is a moment of happy manifestation in my life. Thank you so much for supporting me in each step.
Dr Miriam Vilela, Executive Director of Earth Charter International, delivered the keynote speech. I was fortunate to do an internship under her supervision. She gave me a task to find the impacts of the Earth Charter Movement. That helped me to understand how the Earth Charter helps in creating a just and peaceful world. It motivated me to commit to the Earth Charter and introduce this platform to teenagers to share the soul of this living document that promotes inclusivity and peace. Ecopeace Teen Cafe got life on this Gandhi Jayanti. This project is our tribute to the Mahatma. We are committed to spreading the message of nonviolence and peace to generations.
Let’s grow together and act together.