Friends Peace Teams Epistle 2016

Greetings to Friends everywhere,

The Friends Peace Teams’ Coordinating Council met in Olympia, Washington USA from Thursday, May 19 to Friday, May 20, 2016. Friends from U.S. Yearly Meetings and Australia Yearly Meeting, the African Great Lakes Initiative, the Asia West Pacific Initiative and Peacebuilding en las Américas gathered to share meaningful worship and discernment about our work together.

We are looking forward to our 25th anniversary in 2019, when we can highlight all our progress. We decided we would work together in more joint Peace Teams outreach that helps out supporters understand that Friends Peace Teams’ Initiatives work together worldwide.

We discussed fund raising strategies in the manner of Friends Peace Teams to support our work. We decided to invite major donors to become more involved in our work.

Peacebuilding en las Américas reported that work in Colombia is focused on helping displaced persons. In Colombia, the current peace process opens up more opportunities for Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) initiatives.

In the Honduras, Nellie DelSid is working with indigenous Garifuna groups to resist corporate takeovers of native lands. Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) is also working in La Ceiba with the Mennonite Church In Honduras in the Federal prison.

Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) work continues in San Salvador, El Salvador with the Comadres and people in prison.

In Guatemala, PLA is working with a Middle School.

PLA has a new coordinator, Monica Maher, who will begin work in October, 2016. Read more about Monica here.

The Asia West Pacific Initiative reported on their work in Nepal. AVP Nepal was there in Nepal during the earthquake that occurred in April, 2015. AVP Nepal helped organize an earthquake relief fund after a major earthquake in April 2015 and raised $85,000.00 in conjunction with qualified local groups. Three villages whose residents were Dalit, an “untouchable” caste, suffering 95% destruction of their communities, were selected for assistance. The first priority was given to providing emergency supplies, especially for pregnant and nursing mothers. Relief efforts were next directed to obtaining supplies to help with housing and critical infrastructure. After these efforts were completed, AVP and Trauma Healing workshops were offered.

In Indonesia, Peace Teams efforts were focused on supporting Peace Place in central Java, including development of green space, parking, gardens, a playground and provisions for potential expansion. Peace Place supports peace and nonviolence movements in West Papua, Nusa Tenggara Timor and the Mentawai Islands in Indonesia, and in Bohol, Manila and Mindanao in the Philippines, as well as connecting with Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand, Korea, and the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Many U.S. Friends with AVP facilitation experience responded to a concern from Subhash from Nepal about the suicide rate among Bhutanese resettled in the United States.

Our Asia West Pacific Initiative recording clerk, Margie Hunter, has taken over coordination of efforts to host Jamuna to visit U.S. Friends and Bhutanese communities in the United States. AWP also supported SHEEP Indonesia, a program for small scale production of ceramic water filters. Read more at here.

We are very excited about collaboration with people in the United Kingdom on the Power Of Goodness global story pool. The stories have been translated into Indonesian, and new Indonesian stories have been collected. We look forward to a new translation of stories that inspire and guide peace and nonviolence movements worldwide.

The African Great Lakes Initiative has attracted considerable interest from organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, Mennonite Central Committee, and the American Refugees Committee to use the Healing And Rebuilding Our Communities (HROC) program. The African Great Lakes Initiative is responding with vigor in peacemaking in Burundi as the situation has deteriorated and violence in that nation has increased. Plans for violence prevention work before Kenya’s August 2017 election are under development. Read more about African Great Lakes Initiative on their website.

Friends Peace Teams looks forward to our next council meeting in 2017 in the Boston, Massachusetts area. We extend our deepest gratitude to all who support the work of FTP through their spiritual, material and financial contributions to our organization and its programs, and the greetings and thanks of all the people whose lives have been touched by this work.

Thomas Martin
Clerk, Friends Peace Teams