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Lessons in Tolerance
Irfan Amalee conducting a Peace Generation workshop. Photo: Private Doc
Wednesday, 28 December, 2016 | 07:22 WIB
Lessons in Tolerance

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Zakia Tan Munira traveled a long way from Banda Aceh, Aceh's provincial capital, to visit two elementary schools in North Aceh's remote subdistricts.

The 24-year-old went with three other members of the Salam Damee (Greetings of Peace) Community in Aceh, a group that focuses on spreading peace and tolerance, founded by Acehnese youths. They held a session for fourth graders from the two schools. "We had a one-day sharing session with the children," said Zakia, better known as Ira.

Ira did not come to the school empty-handed. She brought with her the Peace Generation's learning modules. The session was filled with games and activities aimed at promoting the idea of tolerance and coexisting peacefully.

"We did not use the complete module because [the module is designed for] a 12-week session. We merely picked the most relevant topics out of the 12, on self-recognition and prejudice to convey in one day," she said. 

Ira found the children to be enthusiastic and participated in all the games and activities. "They played with balloons, representing the different [types of] prejudices. We also had them put on headbands that said who they were and what their dreams were," she said. 

The Salam Damee Community was invited by Ira's friend who is involved in North Aceh's Indonesia Mengajar (Teaching Indonesia) movement. "I've finally fulfilled my promise. We were scheduled to do this a while ago, but I had to finish my thesis first," she added.

Ira said their peace and tolerance modules are important because Aceh has a conflict-ridden past and prejudice is still rife in the region. She wants to instil tolerance in children to waylay potential sharp conflicts in the future.

The group learned about the peace module from Ibnu Mundzir, 35, a consultant for non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Mundzir, an Aceh resident, signed up for training on how to use peace modules conducted by the Peace Generation organization in Bandung, West Java, in 2014. "I first knew about them in 2007 when they did a campaign in Aceh," said Mundzir.

He knew the module would be useful because he had consulted several youth groups in Aceh with similar concerns regarding intolerance exarcebated by the region's past conflicts. After going through the training, Mundzir brought his knowledge home and passed it to his younger colleagues to use as modules to teach children.

According to Mundzir, the peace module they use is drawn out in full detail to enable facilitators to absorb and use the material easily. Together with the Salam Damee group, he employs the peace module to encourage discussions about conflict and tolerance in several orphanages in Banda Aceh. He noted that the module's central idea is the most engaging, that peace has to begin with oneself. 

"Often, that idea is difficult [to teach], so I tend to spend an amount of time on the subject, particularly with children in orphanages who were abandoned by their parents," he said, adding that it is most important for these children to make peace with their past.  (*)


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