Hello all. I hope this update finds you healthy and amongst loved ones. I imagine, knowing this audience, that many are immersed in deep thought and some pain, and maybe even some hope from seeing all the beautiful activism, confronting the reality of the racism embedded in police forces across the country. My inability to understand how some people deem others as lesser and therefore justify violence upon their bodies and dignity, led me to the study and teaching of History. Whether it is women, people of color, or differing classes in society on the receiving end, the phenomenon is so common that I think it’s easy for people to think, “that’s just the way it is,” “that’s just human nature,” or, “It’s always been that way.” I don’t believe that. I believe the realities of racism and gender violence are the result of choices made by those who have power and they can choose differently. Why they don’t is the question scholars and others attempt to explain – and my bookshelf and e-reader reveal my own attempts at understanding. I’m still confused, angry, and saddened.
But this I do know…it reveals limp weakness and incredible lack of imagination to believe that the empowerment of those in our households, our communities, and our nation, who are demanding respect, will somehow lead to our own diminishment. The fact is that if all parts of the body – our communities – are nurtured and treated as important, the whole self becomes strong and healthy and is prepared to live its best life.
I believe BLACK LIVES MATTER
The Peace Center Fund is here to support the efforts of Beena Sebastian, the founder of Cultural Academy for Peace in Kerala, India. We know about Beena’s work of empowering young women because of her friendship with Deanna Brown and her work to connect women across cultures via Cultural Connections sojourns to India. Look at those two beautiful faces! India has been on shelter-in-place orders since March 24. In a recent conversation, Deanna was able to learn how Beena and the Cultural Academy for Peace are doing during this challenging time.
To this date, there have been no cases of COVID-19 among the residents or staff, nor on Komkutta Island, a community of Kerala that Cultural Academy for Peace is much involved with. Because of the need for safety, Cultural Academy for Peace has made it clear that they are unable to take in any more residents until the immediate crisis has passed. Four team members stay with the residents in the ShantiBhavan (shelter) and do not go their own homes. Beena and one other staff member have just recently begun going back into the office.
While the Peace Center Fund is raising money specifically for the purchase of land on which to build a permanent presence, many people receiving this update have donated funds to Cultural Academy for Peace for other purposes. Beena would like to report that recently those donations have helped get food to migrant workers left stranded due to the lock down of the country, provided gaps for ShantiBhavan residents with financial need, and helped a woman in the local community with payment to get her mother discharged from the hospital.
The best note! Each of Beena’s 3 grandchildren were able to spend a week with her and her husband, Sebastian. I am not a grandmother, but I hear from some trustworthy folks that “it’s the best.”
As of May 31, the Peace Center Fund has raised nearly $30,000! This is remarkable given the project is only 6 months old. Thanks to all of you who “get” the message of the importance and effectiveness of the work of Beena Sebastian and Cultural Academy for Peace in nurturing survivors of gender violence to a place of health and self assurance. We have a way to go to hit the target of $150,000 and we live in a world with many needs. If you are like me, you do what you can in a number of areas, and unfortunately, those needs are growing intensely in our own backyards. Recently, someone in my own family was laid off, and another is barely making it in his current job. The needs can be overwhelming, but I firmly believe that every little bit helps.
Thank you to those who have chosen a small monthly online contribution. This keeps the momentum going forward. Never under estimate the power of many small gifts! Speaking of small gifts, please consider honoring a person who is going above and beyond during these challenging times with the gift of photo art from India. With a donation of any amount, we will hand write a message and mail a beautiful note card, created by Lindsay Minchella. Please give online by clicking on the DONATE button below, or mail a check directly to our fiscal sponsor, On Earth Peace, PO Box 188, New Windsor, MD 21776-0188. Write “Peace Center Fund” in the memo line. Then email the address of the recipient and reason for honor to firstname.lastname@example.org
I just want to take this opportunity to thank Deanna Brown for exposing me to Beena Sebastian and the Cultural Academy for Peace. I also want to thank all of you who have supported and contributed to the efforts to help Beena realize the vision of a permanent and stable space for the Cultural Academy for Peace. This has been an incredible learning and loving experience.
Stay safe and healthy.