Peace One Day Cairo- Mergers, Celebrations and Diversity
In the midst of revolution, chaos and uncertainty, it becomes more and more difficult to envision a peaceful society. News channels and stories of state and civil aggression and injustice make it hard for us to see these traces of peace in our daily lives. It’s easier to just give up on peace all together, give up our idyllic utopia and “live in the reality”.
But as members of CISV, an international peace organization, which aims to “educate and inspire action for a more just and peaceful world” giving up hope is not so simple. Moreover, it shouldn’t be so simple! We feel the obligation and responsibility to do something, instead of giving in to the unrelenting hopelessness.
If our vision has been blurred by the hardships of reality, well then we felt it was our job to make peace as visible as possible. Peace- in your face!
Carrying out Jeremy Guilley’s legacy, JB Egypt decided to organize a huge Peace Day Festival and hereby raise awareness about the international day of peace.
An event of this magnitude was a result of multiple collaborations and a profound dedication from almost 60 CISV and non-CISV volunteers.
JB Egypt teamed up with Masterpeace, a like-minded organization with the aim of establishing Cairo as the Peace Capital of 2014 by organizing a series of activities and events related to peace building and togetherness that lead up to September 21st 2014. Further partners included Darb 1718, a contemporary art and culture centre in Old Cairo, which hosts a number of artistic and musical events, and Bikya BookCafe, a bookstore and café that organizes regular music concerts.
The festival took place on Friday September 21st and was attended by more than 1000 people. About 50 CISV Volunteers dressed in flashy green Peace One Day Tshirts swarmed the location starting 11 o’clock in the morning in preparation for the big event. There was a lot to be catered for an audience of 1200 people.
Guests were entertained by the handi craft bazaars and the NGO fair upon the entrance of Darb 1718. Various NGOs joined us on that day to show support for the international day of peace and to promote their organizations, as well. Some of these like-minded NGOs were Alwan Wa Awtar (Colors and Musical Strings) and Wataneya Society. The first being an organization based in Mokattam, a disenfranchised neighborhood on the outskirts on Cairo, which aims to engage the kids of that neighborhood in musical and artistic activities that are not provided in their regular school curriculum. The latter is an organization which aims to better the standards of orphanages in Egypt by providing legal, social and economic support for various orphan homes in Cairo. These two organizations are just two examples of the various other NGOs that took part in Peace One Day.
The guest would thus walk into the event, get to know about all the great initiatives that are going on in Cairo at the NGO fair, buy an item from one or two local craftsmen at the bazaar and move on to the main seating area in front of the stage.
What was interesting to see on that day was the diversity of people that attended the event. Since the event was a result of a joint project between four organizations, the vast networks of these organizations came with them. The effective use of social media like Twitter and Facebook were detrimental in attracting a large and diverse audience. There were families, parents, grandparents, little kids and young adults. It was quite a pleasant turnout.
In between performances, guests were occasionally asked to answer to a video camera the question: “What is “peace” to you?”. At the kids corner, the little ones drew peace signs and hearts. Furthermore, a task force made of CISV volunteers conducted a two hour long simulation on peace education and conflict resolution. The activity was attended by guests and newcomers along with CISV volunteers who immersed in discussions on violence, the “gray areas of peace”, and the obstacles in implementing peace. The day offered our diverse guests the perfect balance between fun and education.
A line-up of Cairo’s most popular and loved underground musicians started performing at sunset. People sat next to each other on the green grass, listened and sang along to the songs, and as the night went on danced to the upbeat tunes of some of these artists. Each performer was asked to say a few words about international peace day before their performance to show support for the cause. The musical performances varied from mellow alternative rock, indie and folk to upbeat electronic music. What had started out as a chill concert-like setting in the afternoon had turned into a raving dance party by midnight. And we’ve got the videos to prove it J
Everyone agrees that the day went by very smoothly; the musicians were very professional, the food was good, the NGOs were interesting, the simulation was productive and most importantly the volunteers were working with the utmost dedication. Peace was everywhere- on the back of the volunteers’ T-shirts, in the activities that were conducted, on the stage between performances, in the artistic talents of the little kids. In retrospect, JB Egypt managed to make “peace” visible for one day.
The event, on a very basic level, raised awareness about the existence of an international peace day, as it was attended by this large audience and was covered by various media. More importantly, it presented Peace Day as a legitimate, important cause to people who may have thought otherwise. A person who otherwise would take the word “peace” very lightly was challenged to think about the term and its impact more carefully, whether it was through the simulation, the various NGOs that talked about it or the simple peace sign which was to be seen everywhere throughout the event. The Peace Day Festival was an extremely fun and entertaining event, but more so it made people stop and think about it. And even if it was for a split second, it managed to have an impact on them. Mission accomplished!