Asia West Pacific

Cultures of Peace among Street Children on the Gajahwong River in Yogyakarta City

By Ruwaida, edited by Petrus

Cultures of Peace among street children on the Gajah Wong River 2020, Photo Ruwaida

Ruwaidah, Neneng and M. Fakhimuddin met in the Interfaith Youth Training 2019. They then volunteered to do Cultures of Peace training at Gajahwong School, a learning space for urban poor children living by Gajahwong River in Yogyakarta City. All three facilitate learning for children aged between seven to 12 years old. The children are vulnerable to violence happening around them, where radicalism is constantly conveyed in religious lectures. Good, rational communication does not fit the exclusive thinking of certain religious leaders, which affects daily decision-making and social actions in our communities.

To fit the local community, the team arranged the materials in 17 sessions of two-hour meetings every Saturday. The first meeting was on 14 March 2020, with a practice designed to get to know positive names and adjectives, and introduce the twelve Cooperative Agreements.

Rayhan Rajin, 12 years old, said, “I am very interested in the point of doing emotion discharge, then talking to a person to see if there is a dispute.” This agreement was inspiring and motivating for Rayhan, and he committed to practice it. At the end of the session, Movi Manis, 11 years old, cried. When Prima Pandai and Ipul Indah (both 12 years old) asked why, Movi explained she had no money for food. So, Prima Pandai and Ipul Indah offered to share their food.

Ruwaidah has attended the International Peace Training at Peace Place for the last three years. She is from West Nusa Tenggara, currently studying at Sunan Kalijaga Islamic University in Yogyakarta. She felt she needed more practice, so she continues to attend training and encourages other to keep training. She has witnessed a great deal of violence around her, and understands that to create a peaceful life she must begin with herself. She said the January 2020 CCP Training motivated her to learn how to create a culture of peace.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused delays in our training schedule, but we will find ways to keep moving forward.