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APPLICATION TO FELLOWSHIP FUND INCORPORATED,

BRANCH OF AUSTRALIAN FEDERATION OF UNIVERSITY


WOMEN QUEENSLAND

A BRIEF, VERY GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED SPECIAL PROJECT / SCOPE AND
POTENTIAL IMPACT: POVERTY AND PEACE: THE ROLE OF HUNGER AND DEPRIVATION
AMONG CHILDREN IN SITUATIONS OF CONFLICT, WITH A BRIEF REFERENCE TO
SOUTH ASIA. WAR CHILDREN HAVE DIFFICULTY TURNING INTO PEACE CHILDREN:
THE VICIOUS CYCLE.

SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF PEACE, CHANGING THE LIVES OF THE WORLD’S


CHILDREN
(Much of this write-up derives from an article by Gordon Conway, dated April 2002,
courtesy “The Rockefeller Foundation-Mission and Vision”)

“I thought my life had come to a sudden standstill after that gunshot. Today, I see a ray of
hope.”
- A CHILD VICTIM OF TERRORISM, being currently supported by the Rajiv Gandhi
Foundation, New Delhi, India. YES, THERE IS HOPE AS LONG AS THERE ARE
PEOPLE WORKING TO CONVERT HOPES INTO REALITY………

I do NOT believe in any religion…

I am not a Hindu. I am not a Sikh. I am not a Jew. I am not a Christian…


I do not have a religion called Hinduism. I do not have a religion called Islam. I do not
have a religion called Jainism. I do not have a religion called Christianity…

I do not believe in Hatred (Post-Sept 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon)…
I believe in only one ism… and one ity- this is the religion of Humanism and the
religion of Humanity…

My religion has a simple alphabet “E” embedded in it…


This is the religion of PEACE and LOVE…

I do not know whose quote it was but this bit is worth noting.
“LOVE is the greatest force in the world,
And the Word of God the most powerful truth on Earth”
- Anonymous

The 20th Century has come and gone, and now, as never before, we have a rare and
distinct opportunity to assess its most significant events. This is a time for introspection
not only for policy makers but also for each one of us for the world as a whole. The task
is especially urgent now. Terrorist strikes against the United States and others, the
resurgence of ethnic nationalism, the rise and spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the
spread of Westernization in the East, the expanding rights of women and minorities, the
collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union (meaning the loss of an important ideology
for the world), Nazism and Fascism, the two World Wars, the Cold War, the Bretton
Woods Conference and the birth of the United Nations, the rise and spread of technology,
and man in space are some of the most significant events that have left an indelible
impression on the human psyche…

Far too many mind-boggling problems, issues those, if you will…

A recent Gallup International-TNS Poll (Sept 2002) indicated the following:

The biggest problems today are….

Problem Opinion Poll


Terrorism 20
Unemployment 17
Corruption 15
Poverty 14
Overpopulation 6
Global Recession 6
Crime 5
Lack of Education/Illiteracy 5
War & Conflict 3
Others Rest

There is this “big game”; of Peace; Security and Development…Painful disparities in


how people live, among and within nations, generate plenty of fissionable material…
International Peace and Security rest as much on human well being as on law and order…
There is therefore a need to realize the ENORMOUS SCOPE OF THIS IMPORTANT
CORRELATION AND THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF POVERTY, ESPECIALLY
CHILD POVERTY (HUNGER AND DEPRIVATION) ON PEACE AND
CONFLICT…

Countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have
millions of impoverished people without basic services such as food, clothing, shelter,
sanitation and hygiene, clean drinking water, jobs, education and health care, among
others. As the World Development Report 2000 / 2001 has pointed out, the world has
deep poverty amidst plenty… Of the world’s 6 billion-odd people, 2.8 billion, almost
half, live on less than two dollars a day, and 1.2 billion, a fifth, live on less than one
dollar a day, with a majority living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to
latest reports (Sept, 2002), Southern Africa is in the grip of a starvation crisis, sooner, and
worse than anticipated. And of those living on less than one dollar a day, 44% are in
SOUTH ASIA alone…

I wish, at times, that our CHILDREN could lead better lives, and that the rich,
industrialized countries could cut down on their extravagant consumption patterns, waste
dumping, greenhouse gas emissions, etc, to help CHILDREN in the South (as well as
those in the North) enjoy better lives. I wish the rules of trade could be fairer, and that the
dividends accruing therein could be channelized into EDUCATION (‘Feeding Minds,
Fighting Hunger’)…

Remember John Lennon’s ‘IMAGINE’, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the
only one…”

We pause for a moment…and DARE TO STIMULATE OUR MINDS TO THINK…of


those millions of CHILDREN caught up in situations of DEPRIVATION AND
CONFLICT…All over the world, thousands of these “Innocent Flowers”(getting
trampled as they are under the forces of Globalization), die of Poverty daily…THIS IS,
ACCORDING TO JOHN PILGER, THE “TRUE TERRORISM” OF OUR TIMES…
And what better example to give than South Asia, where, in the lives of Children,
Deprivation and Conflict occur on a common platform…

It is a fact that most of us would be able to visualize the recurring image of smoke rising
from the ruins of the World Trade Center…just as we could (or, should I say: could
NOT?) the image of a little flower called a “CHILD” WORKING ON A SHIKARA
(Houseboat) on the Dal Lake in war-torn Kashmir. This child should have been in school
instead…and there are still many South Asians (particularly, innocent women and
children) who are suffering silently the backlash based on religion…

It is but natural that this question should arise: What can we do to help prevent future acts
of terrorism and restore PEACE and normalcy? The answers can never be simple, and
yet these answers lie in the lives of our Children…the “REAL VICTIMS” (of
Terrorism)…Let us examine, in brief, the impact of Conflict/Terrorism on the lives of a
few such Children:
Imkong Sema lost his father to unidentified assailants, in Nagaland, India, when he was
16 years old, an age when most children need to be guided for their future;
Ajay Kumar is a very quiet and withdrawn child. His father and uncles were killed before
his eyes while he stood helplessly on the terrace of his house. He has been unable to get
over this trauma in life and feels scared of the terrace. This happened in the state of
Punjab in India.
Little Anjali lived with her five sisters and parents in Srinagar, where they had a well-
established carpet business. One unfortunate day, Anjali’s father was kidnapped and later
killed. The family then lost most of its assets as a direct result of the death of the father
and was forced to leave their home…the ordeal had just begun…
- Case Studies, (courtesy of the) Rajiv Gandhi Foundation online, New Delhi,
India.

There is, I believe, a bit of a link between terrorism/war/(ethnic) conflict on the one hand,
and childhood poverty and exclusion on the other. It is evident that those involved in
conflict have themselves either grown up in poverty (with much needed love and
attention being denied to them as children) OR that they draw much of their support and
justification from those who are, or perceive themselves as, unjustly impoverished.
Surely, no one individual or group of individuals would want to become “Scavengers of
Peace”, as I would call them. They sure deserve better lives, but circumstances in
childhood have been somewhat unkind to them…

More precisely, appreciating the REVERSIBLE CORRELATION between Deprivation


and Conflict, it can be safely asserted that children growing up in conflict situations are
particularly vulnerable, as they get exposed to familial destruction, forcible displacement,
child conscription, long-term physical and psychological wounds and abandonment,
among others. FOR ONE WHO HAS KNOWN ONLY VIOLENCE, THE FACULTY
OF ADAPTATION TO PEACE AND SOCIAL SOLIDARITY WILL BE
IMPAIRED IN ADULTHOOD…AND THE VICIOUS CYCLE CONTINUES…

LET US LEARN TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF PEACE IN A WORLD


FILLED WITH VIOLENCE…AND HATRED…ITS HIGH TIME WE STARTED
WORKING FOR A MORE PEACEFUL WORLD FOR OUR CHILDREN, OUR
FUTURE…