Empowering her Community for Peace: A Goldin Global Fellow’s Journey
By: Gresë Sermaxhaj
In this captivating piece, Santoshi Wagle, a 2022 Goldin Global Fellow, shares her experience and reflections leading an event for International Peace Day 2022 in her own country, Nepal.
Santoshi unpacks her challenges, the invaluable lessons she learned, and the profound impact she is making by using the skills she gained through her Goldin Fellowship and the transformative Gather platform.
She initially highlights the experience as extraordinarily enriching by further explaining that students, youths, and community groups came together through this celebration: “The participants explored the existing conflicts and causes of violence, the role of peacebuilder, qualities of peacebuilder peace-building process, emotional awareness, emotional regulation, and conflict transformation.”
According to her, coming together was necessary for the community to address common issues and find practical solutions and action plans for sustainable peace and social change: “With the growing conflict among humans at internal and external levels, the event turned out to be a self-reflective program.” she adds.
These meaningful community initiatives come with challenges and hardships too. While discussing this, Santoshi brings up the challenge of bringing the women group together: “Despite their [women’s] interests and will, it was challenging for women to find the time for this activity because of their responsibility to care for their children and daily work.”
Nevertheless, in collaboration and coordination with her local partners, namely NVC practice group Nepal, Radha Krishna Aama Samuha (women group), and Srijana Secondary School, they covered travel expenses and some allowances for women participants: “We also managed a caregiver to care for children during the event, so we could include the mothers having small children.”
In hindsight, she also reflects on the importance of the event timing (holidays seemed better) and the arrangements of essential expenses for participants and pre-sessions. For this, Santoshi emphasizes the pivotal role of safe circles: “Those safe circles are where we can discuss and empower the groups to discuss widely in the community event, so every voice can be expressed and fully heard.”
She also acknowledges how this one-time event turned out very challenging to balance the power and openness among the participants: “Regular meetings and follow-up events are important for sustainability, awareness, and empowerment for promoting peace and social justice.”
On a positive note, Santoshi connects the successful completion of this event with the skills she learned during the Gather course while being a Goldin Global Fellow: “The creative insights that I learned during the course, in identifying community assets, community visioning summit, the idea of technical challenges and adaptive challenges, the importance of bringing the community together into the discussion for the collective issues and developing shared agreement and follow up were constructive in successful implementation and create wider impact in the community.”
“Gratitude to the Goldin family for the profound wisdom that I received during and after the fellowship”, she adds in extension to her appreciation for Goldin’s journey.
She and her team also organize regular meetings, community events, and international day celebrations due to community visioning to strengthen grassroots communities and promote sustainable social change.
This year, she is conducting workshops on nonviolent communication for teachers and women groups, continuing with women groups conducting safe listening circles and awareness programs against the dowry system and caste discrimination as a follow-up to last year’s activities: “I invite the wider community to join this program and synergize to create a wider impact. Let’s join hands to have peace and harmony in this land.”
Conclusively, she invites volunteers to join the programs in schools and communities, organized with her partner organizations The School of Nonviolence and Srijana Secondary Schools: “We offer an opportunity to learn, share and play with the wider community.”