There’s a magical place called CAUX – Initiatives of Change Foundation. And saying that it’s like a real life Disneyland, is not too far from it. It’s a global village. It’s a place for acceptance, tolerance, diversity, listening, understanding. It’s a place where you see other gender, skin colour, religion, nationality, and you don’t look for differences, but you see the sameness in you. You see their problem as yours, you feel their sadness as well as joy as yours. You see the human in another human and you connect with some of them on a more deeper level than you could have ever thought would be possible.
“I worry sometimes that humans are afraid of helping humans. There’s less risk associated with with animals, less fear of failure, fear of getting too involved.”
– Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories
What brought me to this real life Disneyland was International Peacebuilders’ Forum about peacebuilding among people displaced by violence and war. At the same time there was also another conference called Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business, so the house was full of people, 80 nationalities all together.
This year’s IPF was held to deepen the understanding of the current context of war and violence; to engage with and inspire peers by sharing reflections, tools, and experience; to foster collaboration and joint action to increase impact; and to establish a community of international peers who can support each other.
Being a privileged white person with blue eyes and blonde hair, what I’ve learned about the refugee crisis has been mostly through media while still using my own brain and empathy in me (something I’d recommend to many people out there). In Caux, I met the other side of the situation though – the human side of it. So even when I call Caux a ‘Disneyland’, don’t get me wrong – this place is as real as your home, people there are as real as you are, and they come with their stories and realities just as real as yours. The difference is that up until now, I personally had been very far from that kind of reality. The world needs more places like CAUX and attendance should be mandatory for everyone.
I went there without really knowing what’s going to happen and how it’s going to work and what kind of people are waiting for me there.
“I realize now that it’s way more important to open our hearts than our eyes. If our hearts are closed, then it doesn’t matter what we’re looking at – we would never see everything as it truly is: Buddhaful.”
– Timber Hawkeye, Buddhist Boot Camp
I left with a heart full of gratitude, joy, and sadness, all this at the same time.
I left feeling more empowered, inspired, and with a pressing voice inside me saying that it’s time to take responsibility, it is time to take action.
“Whatever it is that you can do to help, do it,” says the voice.
“Find a way. Find Your Way.”
More importantly, I left with people who, I sincerely hope, will be one of those lifelong friends who you can’t see as often as you wished, but you won’t ever, never ever, forget them, and the moments that you once shared together.
“Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as you can.”
– John Wesley
Official pictures can be found HERE
Until next time,