The Foundation for Universal Responsibility with WISCOMP commemorated the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2017 by visiting refugee communities from Afghanistan, Tibet and Myanmar in New Delhi through a day-long engagement primarily facilitated by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and their implementing partner BOSCO (Bosco Organization for Social Concern and Operation).
The partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947 witnessed one of the largest refugee flows in history, and the region has experienced many international migration flows and internal displacements since. Yet, India has remained hospitable and welcoming to refugees inspired by the traditional wisdom of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. In this context, guided by values of compassion and understanding and the wisdom of universal responsibility of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, we commemorated the day listening to stories of displacement, belonging and hope shared by over 150 refugees including children, adolescents, and the elderly. Even as they live amidst grave vulnerability, we were inspired by their deep resilience and hopes for a safe future with equal dignity and respect for themselves and their children. We also led a collection drive to donate basic utility items to support the displaced families. Artwork around the theme of ‘peace’ and music sessions with children enriched the day and served as a different language to express their fears and aspirations.
The idea of ‘peace’ was reflected in most paintings through access to schools which connected them with a community of friends and opportunities for growth and freedom. The day was spent listening and learning, with the hope that it created a safe space for dialogue, deep listening and sharing, along with bearing witness to their resilience and hopes, all of which will collectively guide a more sustained project on Stories of Displacement and Belonging.