Twenty-four preschool teachers and parents gathered at a preschool in N. Sumatra to change the way they taught their children. Friends Peace Teams combined games from the Children’s Creative Response to Conflict with Alternatives to Violence Project and trauma healing activities followed by developmental play with young children.
Laughter, positive adjectives, affirmations and communication rolled into sobbing as these women realized how cruelly they were treated as children and how cruelly many of them treat children to astonishment at practicing calm, relaxed listening from the heart as others discharged emotional distress and at the generosity needed to cooperate with one another.
After learning a great deal themselves through play and games, they understood what it meant that “children learn through play.” Learning to love and work with others as well as the Earth through play came so much more naturally once they were able to build bonds of community and trust with each other.
Yunardi of Yogyakarta Paints a Boy Drawn Up By Hope. As Yunardi pointed to the red balloon, he said, “He’s a child with a dream and a dream is like a toy. The bubbles are hopes lifting him upward. He’s going to lift himself up with hope and he’s lifting where he is up with him.”
When asked what they learned the point most referred to was: “To have the courage to speak without fear of making mistakes.” Speaking in groups was not something most of these women had ever done. By the end of six days, all of them were speaking readily and passionately.
Barak Induk, the former refugee camp just over the border of Aceh in the mountains of N. Sumatra, has run Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops for five years and a developmental preschool for over two years and helped developed the AVP trauma healing advanced workshop. Since no other developmental preschool programs existed in their area, they asked Friends Peace Teams to train others.
We agreed. If there were one school that wanted to completely change their program, we would work with them at their school. Other schools could watch us work with this one school to see how to carry out real change in a real place, rather than just talk about it in isolated room somewhere.
After the six-day training, Mislan, the AVP coordinator for N. Sumatra commented, “I have been in all these trainings before, but doing them together makes sense in a way that gives me a whole different understanding. This was amazing!”
A woman some years ago commented after one of our trainings, “We (Indonesians) think we have been free for over 50 years, but we are not. We are colonizing and oppressing our children the same way the Dutch colonized and oppressed us for so many years. Education alone will not free us; we must recognize the violence within our ourselves and our day-to-day lives and learn to choose peace!”
Nadine Hoover, Jamie Carestio, Mislan and Rini Warouw repeated this training in Kota Binjai, East Aceh as well as offering training in making organic compost. Nadine Hoover is now working to write this training in a manual in both English and Indonesian. The Ministry of National Education’s Department of Early Childhood Education has expressed interest in promoting this workshop for teachers and family members. Together we can choose peace!