I've often wondered exactly how the Taliban goes about convincing kids to become terrorists and suicide bombers. What must that propaganda look like? What are their arguments? Whatever they're doing, it's working. Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy went inside a Taliban training camp to find out exactly how their system works. And it IS working. They target children of very poor families (or perhaps those with no families at all) who are long on despair and short on options. The offer of food, clothing, shelter, and religious training must sound pretty good to a desperately poor family. Similar to a roach hotel, though, the children can check in but they can't check out. Watch Sharmeen's 8-minute talk on TED to see what she found out (then keep reading for a more hopeful outlook):
Click here for link to Sharmeen's video: http://www.ted.com/talks/sharmeen_obaid_chinoy_inside_a_school_for_...
(Couldn't get the embed code to work.)
Now for a solution. Note I said "a solution," as there are presumably many possible solutions and approaches for a problem as complex and pervasive as this. Here's one that's definitely working though. Lori Leyden, PhD, MBA, is a trauma healer who traveled to Rwanda in 2007, 2008, 2009, and is planning her 2010 trip now. She worked with young people ages 16-25 who were orphaned during the 1994 genocide. Many of those kids saw their families murdered, many were maimed and raped. Many of these orphans are now heads of households, raising their younger siblings with no adult guidance at all. Like the kids highlighted in Sharmeen's film, these kids are traumatized and are short on options.
Lori and a small team not only provided traditional forms of humanitarian aid at the orphanage, such as electricity and a water tank, but she's working to provide long-term solutions from many angles. First priority is trauma healing. After Lori's work with these kids, the schoolmaster reported that trauma outbreaks were reduced by 90%. That's huge in an environment where you have 200+ kids sharing one dorm room. Trauma is infectious. But so are hope and humor. Lori's team taught the kids energy psychology techniques--these are easy techniques that anyone can use any time, any where (I use them all the time myself). She's involving the community at a grassroots level to provide job training and opportunities--this gives the kids long-term economic sustainability. She's teaching the kids heart-centered leadership skills--they're learning to teach and lead others from the heart. Lori's program is a "train the trainer" program, and the kids involved will eventually take ownership of the project.
Now imagine the world's first international youth healing center, where kids can come and be taught all these things--holistic ways of healing themselves, job skills, heart-centered leadership skills--and they can network with similar young people in similar centers all over the world, including here in the US. And the network extends to business leaders and philanthropists all over the world . . . NOW what does the future look like for these kids?? NOW what kinds of ideas and input are being fed to them every day? And now how do they respond when fundamentalist recruiters show up looking for new recruits? Seems to me they'll be much less vulnerable. This is Lori's vision (at this time--she says her vision actually expands with every trip she makes to Rwanda). Watch Lori's team in action at the orphanage and look closely at these kids' faces--the potential is incredible:
The team came away in awe of the human dignity, strength, grace, and the willingness to TRY to forgive demonstrated by these kids. As student representative at the orphanage, Celeste, said, "forgiveness is hard . . ." but as Lori says, if they're willing to try, then that should give us real hope that world peace is possible.
Last Sunday, our Denver theosophical group and the Denver IONS group co-sponsored a talk by Lori. About 68 people came to hear her speak about "The Grace Process," a transformative spiritual practice that moves us out of our heads and into our hearts by focusing on love, joy, gratitude and wonder. Lori teaches this to the kids in Rwanda, and she taught us too. Everyone received a great deal, and they gave back--over $600 was raised for Lori's work in Rwanda.
LIGHT: Leadership, Inspiration, Global Healing, Transformation